HC Deb 12 February 1979 vol 962 cc783-5
30. Mr. Adley

asked the Lord President of the Council if he is satisfied that he has sufficient powers to enable him to carry out his responsibilities; and if he will make a statement.

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Michael Foot)

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Adley

The House will be glad to hear that. In view of the Prime Minister's predeliction for gerrymandering and the Government's obvious determination to stay in office—until October if they can—will the Lord President give us, in as clear, short and precise a way as he answered my original question, an assurance that the Government have no proposals to amend, alter or play around with the Parliament Act?

Mr. Foot

The suggestion in the second part of the hon. Gentleman's question is absolutely ludicrous. We have no such proposals. On the first matter, the hon. Gentleman is under a considerable misapprehension. It is not only that we intend to stay in power for the rest of this year, but that we intend to be in power for several years to come.

Mr. Lee

What does my right hon. Friend and the Government propose to do about their Lordships' decision to louse up the Rhodesian sanctions commission inquiry?

Mr. Foot

That does not really arise from the original question, but I agree that it was a serious decision made by another place and it is most regrettable that their Lordships should have come to a conclusion which was in conflict with the motion passed by this democratically elected House. It is always highly regrettable when another place, which has no responsibility in this sense, decides to take action in such direct conflict with a decision of this House. I am sorry to say that that is bound to lead to further difficulties in future.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

The right hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the difficulties are not in the future, but have already arisen. On the important question of the sanctions commission, which concerns this House intimately, can the Lord President tell us what action the Government propose to take?

Mr. Foot

The Government will come forward with proposals for dealing with the situation. The House of Commons made a decision to set up a commission, and we shall abide by that decision. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will do the same.

Mr. Lawrence

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that industrial action is yet again being taken in Her Majesty's Stationery Office? Can he say how often such industrial action has taken place and harmed the activities of Parliament while his Government have been in power? Since the right hon. Gentleman has a special responsibility in this matter, can he tell us what he is doing about it, bearing in mind that it has been shown again that the Government have no special relationship with the trade unions which can avoid industrial action?

Mr. Foot

I repudiate the last part of what the hon. Gentleman said. No doubt these will be matters for discussion and debate later this week and for several weeks or months to come. I certainly regret any industrial action which interferes with the flow of documents to the House. That has happened afresh in the past day or two. We are taking every possible step to try to overcome the problem. The hon. Gentleman asked what further steps we were taking. We have had an investigation into the matter, and I believe that if all parties will follow the sort of recommendations contained in the report of that investigation we can overcome the difficulties.