HC Deb 10 April 1986 vol 95 cc343-56 3.31 pm
Mr. Neil Kinnock (Islwyn)

May I ask the Leader of the Houe to state the business for next week?

The Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. John Biffen)

Yes, Sir. The business for next week will be as follows:

MONDAY 14 APRIL—Second Reading of the Shops Bill [Lords].

TUESDAY 15 APRIL—Timetable motion on the Social Security Bill.

Second Reading of the National Health Service (Amendment) Bill.

Motions relating to legal aid and advice orders and regulations, details of the relevant statutory instruments will be given in the Official Report.

WEDNESDAY 16 APRIL—Remaining stages of the Agriculture Bill.

Motion relating to the Education (Schools and Further Education) (Amendment) Regulations.

Motion on the Commission on Disposals of Land (Northern Ireland) Order.

THURSDAY 17 APRIL—Opposition Day (11th Allotted Day) until about seven o'clock there will be a debate on education. The debate will arise on a motion in the names of the Leaders of the Liberal and Social Democratic parties. Afterwards there will be a debate on regional policy on a motion in the names of the leaders of the Scottish Nationalist party and Plaid Cymru.

FRIDAY 18 APRIL—Private Members' Bills.

MONDAY 21 APRIL—Opposition Day (12th Allotted Day) there will be a debate on an Opposition motion. The subject for debate to be announced.

[Legal Aid Regulations for Debate on Tuesday 15 April 1986:

Legal Aid (Scotland) (Assessment of Resources) Amendment Regulations 1986

Legal Aid in Criminal Proceedings (General) (Amendment) Regulations 1986

Legal Aid (Assessment of Resources) (Amendment) Regulations 1986

Legal Aid (Assessment of Resources) (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1986

Legal Advice and Assistance (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1986

Legal Advice and Assistance (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 1986

Legal Advice and Assistance (Amendment) Regulations 1986.]

Mr. Kinnock

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. Will he give an undertaking to use his considerable influence to ensure that there is a free vote among Conservative Members on the Second Reading of the Shops Bill next Monday? As he is a supporter of choice, does he not believe that choice should be extended to members of his own party as well as to other hon. Members over something that is very much a matter of conscience for many hon. Members? Will the right hon. Gentleman give an undertaking to discuss through the usual channels the possibility of giving extra time for the debate on Monday night?

During the debate on the legal aid and advice orders next Tuesday, serious and very complicated matters will arise that will require extensive examination. May we have extra time for that debate?

May I remind the Leader of the House of his promise before the Easter recess of a debate on the future of British Leyland and its constituent parts? Will he ensure that the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry comes to the House as quickly as possible to make a statement about the recent developments and, in particular, the claim by current bidders, as reported in this morning's edition of the Financial Times, that they had been "misled" by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry?

Last weekend's letter from the National Advisory Body for Public Sector Higher Education to polytechnic directors caused justifiable alarm at the proposed cuts in the next academic year. The knowledge that the University Grants Committee is preparing letters for all universities to plan 2 per cent. cuts in the same year is likely to meet a similar alarmed response. There is widespread concern at the continuing reduction in opportunities at universities and other institutions for higher education for young people with the necessary qualifications. Will the right hon. Gentleman grant Government time very soon for a proper debate on higher education before the NAB and the UGC have their proposals taken any further?

Finally, can the Leader of the House ensure that an opportunity is granted soon for a debate on the test ban treaty? This and many other international issues are growing in importance and completely justify the allocation very soon of at least two days for a comprehensive foreign affairs debate.

Mr. Biffen

The right hon. Gentleman will realise that the conventions of voting lie with my right hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary, who will have heard the eloquent plea just made and will evaluate it accordingly.

I realise that the Shops Bill is causing concern in all parts of the House, and I shall be happy to have the matter of extra time for debate further considered through the usual channels.

Perhaps we can also consider, through the usual channels, the timing and duration of Tuesday evening's debate on the orders on legal aid matters.

Obviously, I stand by the previous statements I have made about the timing of the debate on British Leyland. Meanwhile, I will convey to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry the right hon. Gentleman's interest in a statement on this matter.

I take note of what the right hon. Gentleman says about the desirability of a debate on the higher education problems, related to the work of the National Advisory Body and the University Grants Committee. We will consider the matter through the usual channels and there is at least a chance of having a debate on education on Wednesday next week.

Finally, I take at once the point the right hon. Gentleman makes about the test ban treaty, underlining the importance of a foreign affairs debate; perhaps we might consider that matter further.

Sir Paul Bryan (Boothferry)

Do the Government intend to have the Shops Bill committed to a Special Standing Committee?

Mr. Biffen

Such a matter, by tradition, is discussed through the usual channels, but I take note of my hon. Friend's interest in it. I believe there would be merit in such a procedure, and we might consider it.

Mr. David Alton (Liverpool, Mossley Hill)

Given that the proposal to introduce Sunday trading was not contained in the 1983 Conservative party manifesto, will the Leader of the House accept that opinion on these Benches very much supports the idea that there should be a free vote? Will he communicate that fact to the Patronage Secretary? Will he also accept that many of us would like the debate extended to midnight on Monday, so that all sides of the question can be put?

I notify the Leader of the House that, during the debate on Thursday next, the Liberal party and the Social Democratic party intend to move a motion of no confidence in his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education.

Mr. Biffen

As to the final point, we will bear the rigours of a "no confidence" vote with such equanimity as we can muster. The hon. Gentleman will appreciate that the points he made earlier about the Shops Bill were also made by the Leader of the Opposition, and I am favourably disposed to both requests.

Sir William Clark (Croydon, South)

Will my right hon. Friend consider an early debate on the future of occupational pensions? Is he aware of the urgency of this matter? If occupational pension funds were forced to invest in a national investment bank, which would invest in lame ducks, it would affect 11 million occupational pensioners who are looking forward to pensions for which they have subscribed?

Mr. Biffen

My hon. Friend makes an extremely fair and pertinent point. I have no doubt that we shall recognise that one of the new badges of Socialism is not the ownership of equity by the state, but the political direction of private funds. I cannot immediately offer the prospect of a debate, but I suspect that the course of the Finance Bill itself will allow the matter to be dealt with.

Mr. Peter Shore (Bethnal Green)

In view of your important ruling yesterday, Mr. Speaker, on hybridity with respect to the Airports Bill and Manchester airport, when does the Leader of the House expect to announce the formation of a Joint Committee on Private Bill Procedure which can fully consider hybridity and other matters?

Mr. Biffen

The matter is under consideration. I hope to be in touch with the right hon. Gentleman about it.

Sir John Biggs-Davison (Epping Forest)

Has my right hon. Friend noticed that the substantial support by both sides of the House for early-day motion 280 is still growing? [That this House notes the widespread concern felt in Parliament by eminent scientists, by other responsible observers and by members of the public who have viewed programmes on the matter screened by Channel 4, that Anne Maguire, Patrick Maguire (senior), Vincent Maguire (then aged 17), Patrick Maguire (then aged 14), Sean Smyth, Patrick O'Neill and the late Giuseppe Conlon, sentenced in 1976 to long terms of imprisonment since served, now appear, despite confirmation of their convictions at the time by the Court of Appeal, to have been entirely innocent of the crime with which they were charged; further notes at the conclusion of a debate in the other place on 17th. May 1975, the recognition by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Home Office of the strength of feeling on this matter in that House and his pledge to draw the attention of the Secretary of State for the Home Department to what had been said; and therefore earnestly urges the Secretary of State for the Home Department in the interests of the highest standards of British justice of which this country needs to feel rightly proud, to move without delay for a review of these convictions, either under the provisions of section 17 of the Criminal Appeal Act 1968, or by such other public process of review as he may deem appropriate to this disturbing case.] Will we at least have an interim statement next week on the Government's position on the miscarriage of justice in the Maguire case?

Mr. Biffen

My hon. Friend has made this point to me a number of times. I shall certainly look at the matter and refer it to the appropriate Department so that it is considered.

Mr. Alfred Morris (Manchester, Wythenshawe)

Further to the right hon. Gentleman's reply to my right hon. Friend the Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore), is he prepared to refer to the Joint Committee my exchange of correspondence with Mr. Speaker about hybridity and the Airports Bill?

Mr. Biffen

I cannot answer that question specifically in the terms in which it has been presented. I think that we should wait until we have had initial discussions on the topic. I shall bear the right hon. Gentleman's anxiety in mind.

Sir Dudley Smith (Warwick and Leamington)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Bill passed its Committee stage just before Easter with flying colours? Because that legislation is well in advance of other European legislation and because it deals specifically with animal rights, will my right hon. Friend consider bringing forward the Report and Third Reading stages sooner rather than later?

Mr. Biffen

I take note of my hon. Friend's comments. I should like to underline what he said about the way in which the Bill was handled in Committee. I think that my hon. Friend will appreciate that, at this time of the year, there are a number of competitors for parliamentary time.

Mr. Jack Ashley (Stoke-on-Trent, South)

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that nearly two months have passed since a deputation went to see the Secretary of State for Defence? That deputation was composed of hon. Members on both sides of the House, gravely disabled service men who had been crippled by alleged negligence and the parents of service men who had been burned to death, again by alleged negligence The deputation asked the Secretary of State to repeal section 10 of the Crown Proceedings Act 1947 and to enable disabled service men on non-combatant duties or their survivors to claim the same compensation as that claimed by any other public servant. However, we have not received a reply from the Secretary of State. Will a statement be made next week?

Mr. Biffen

I appreciate that point and the difficulty that would be faced in raising it on Second Reading of the National Health Service (Amendment) Bill. Those matters are not totally unrelated. I shall refer the right hon. Gentleman's point to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence.

Sir Adam Butler (Bosworth)

Does my right hon. Friend accept that many Conservative Members object to the fundamental principle of total deregulation in the Shops Bill? Does he accept also that we want change and would genuinely like to help him put the right legislation on the statute book? Does he agree that, during Monday's debate, one or both of the Ministers should give us a categorical assurance that the Government will support amendments that would remove total deregulation in a suitable way?

Mr. Biffen

I very much appreciate my hon. Friend's point about the necessity for legislation and about the vitality of the debate about the appropriate type of legislation. I shall certainly draw the attention of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to that point.

Mr. Dafydd Wigley (Caernarfon)

About the business on Friday next week, will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that, if the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Bill is talked out tomorrow because of the intervention of the Government Whips Office—which has asked Conservative Members to talk at length on the Bill—that will happen on the very day that the Prime Minister is visiting disabled people in Devon? Will the right hon. Gentleman assure us that there will be time next Friday to consider that legislation?

Mr. Biffen

The usual procedures will be followed.

Sir John Farr (Harborough)

Can my right hon. Friend set at rest the fears of those in the knitwear and hosiery trade about the current negotiations on the future multifibre arrangement? If the discussions come to a head, as they may well do, within the next week or two, will he arrange for any proposals to be placed before the House?

Mr. Biffen

I know that my hon. Friend will appreciate that the House debated the multi-fibre arrangement on 13 February. Negotiations on renewal of the multi-fibre arrangement are under way and the House will be kept informed of progress.

Mr. Andrew Faulds (Warley, East)

As the right hon. Gentleman will know, tomorrow Christie's is quite improperly auctioning a painting by Goya which the Spanish Government—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] In that case I shall withdraw my question. I am relieved to hear the change of mind by Christie's.

Hon. Members

It has been sold.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I do not know whether there is any Government responsibility for that.

Mr. Conal Gregory (York)

Will my right hon. Friend find time during the following week to have a major debate on Britain's fastest growth industry, tourism, in view of the slur that the chairman of ICI has made equating service with servility? We should also debate the fact that this country desperately needs a growth in manufacturing industry as well as in tourism and a chance to debate the Select Committee on Trade and Industry's report?

Mr. Biffen

Before I answer that, perhaps I might be allowed to maintain my self-sought standard of being a philistine. I did not know that Christie's was selling a painting tomorrow.

I am attracted to the fact that there should be an opportunity for the House to debate tourism, which is such an important element in our economy and provides so many jobs. I think that my hon. Friend may find that the Committee on the Finance Bill will give him the chance he is looking for, one way or another.

Mr. Roland Boyes (Houghton and Washington)

Will the Leader of the House investigate and make a statement on press speculation that the Prime Minister is to be invited to open the Nissan factory in the north-east of England? As the Member of Parliament for that constituency, I would find her presence unwelcome and unacceptable because of the great damage that the Government's policies have caused to the economy of the north-east and the suffering they have caused our people in the region with the highest unemployment in Great Britain. Further than that, it would be an insult to the three authorities which negotiated the Nissan deal to attract it to my area. It is totally unacceptable and we do not want her there.

Mr. Biffen

Well there we are. I must say that many people in the north-east, earning a great deal less than the hon. Gentleman, will be only too delighted to see Nissan located there and will be happy to see the authority of this country symbolised by the commitment of the Prime Minister to that project. I do not know whether she is going but I shall refer the hon. Gentleman's comments to my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Kenneth Warren (Hastings and Rye)

Bearing in mind the fact that my right hon. Friend is aware that over two weeks ago the Select Committee on Trade and Industry published a unanimous report on the tin crisis, will he persuade his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to come to the House next week to reply to that report and tell the House what the Government will do to help the Cornish tin miners, before there are none left? Will he give time, as recommended in the report, for a debate on the refusal of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to allow civil servants to answer our questions in full or to answer them himself?

Mr. Biffen

My hon. Friend has raised an important point and I shall certainly look into it.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

Does the leader of the House recollect that, during the Easter Adjournment debate he undertook to look, with the Ministry of Defence and the Treasury, at the case of Mr. Jim Smith, and at the case of Mr. Clarence Robinson? In the light of the fact that Secretary Weinberger has apologised to the Secretary of State for Defence over the Clarence Robinson episode, should not some statement be made next week? How is the right hon. Gentleman getting on with the Ministry of Defence and the Treasury?

Mr. Biffen

I recollect the Easter Adjournment debate, not least because the hon. Gentleman reminded me specifically to include the Treasury in my consideration.

Mr. Dalyell


Mr. Biffen

There, we are at one. I shall look at the matter afresh and be in touch with the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Michael Fallon (Darlington)

Can we have an early debate on mortgage tax relief so that every household with a mortgage will be able to understand how expensive a vote for either of the alliance parties would be?

Mr. Biffen

The point which my hon. Friend makes is not only topical but one of growing public interest. The earliest opportunity for the matter to be debated will he in Committee on the Finance Bill.

Mr. David Penhaligon (Truro)

May I remind the Leader of the House that, next week, it is six months since the tin crisis started. Is it not appropriate that the House should provide time—

Mr. Brian Sedgemore (Hackney, South and Shoreditch)

And money

Mr. Penhaligon

—for the Select Committee report to be discussed? The Government would have the opportunity to defend their total lack of action to date.

Mr. Biffen

I could not accept those astringent and ungenerous remarks. I realise that the tin crisis continues to be a lively concern in the House. I shall draw the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to the points which have been made this afternoon.

Sir Kenneth Lewis (Stamford and Spalding)

Since the Second Reading of the Shops Bill will take place next Monday, will my right hon. Friend consider making it a two-day debate and bring us here on Sunday so that we will know what it will be like when the shops are open?

Mr. Biffen

With a modicum of success, I have resisted the temptation to be an innovative Leader of the House. I certainly have no intention that we should come here on a Sunday to discuss the Shops Bill.

Mr. Harry Ewing (Falkirk, East)

Will the Leader of the House arrange for the Secretary of State for Scotland to make a statement on the crisis in Scottish prisons? Is the Leader of the House aware that Scotland has the highest male prisoner population per head of the population in western Europe? Prisoners on remand are being transferred to youth institutions, which is totally unsatisfactory. Prisoners are held and prison officers work in absolutely intolerable conditions. I urge the Leader of the House to urge the Secretary of State for Scotland to make a statement on this crisis.

Mr. Biffen

I will draw the attention of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland to the points that the hon. Gentleman has made. I realise that the hon. Gentleman feels that it is an important topic.

Mr. Richard Ryder (Mid-Norfolk)

In view of the Government's commitment to conserve unique parts of the British landscape, as witnessed by their welcome decision to bring forward the Bill relating to the Broads and the success of the Halvergate grazing scheme, does the Leader of the House agree that this is a suitable moment for a major debate on conservation?

Mr. Biffen

Yes, if there were much more time available than I possess at present.

Mr. Robert Parry (Liverpool, Riverside)

Has the Leader of the House noticed the three early-day motions 673, 680 and 700?

[That this House recognises that while the Prime Minister has condemned dictatorships, her Government has invited Chun Du Hwan to visit Britain following the brutal suppression of trade union and civil rights in his country; and accordingly calls for his visit to be cancelled.]

[That this House registers acute concern at the findings of Amnesty International in relation to the incidence of repression, suppression and torture in South Korea, exemplified by the case of Kim Keun-tae who was subjected to persistent police harassment, arbitrary arrest, denial of basic civil and legal rights, detention incommunicado and severe physical beating and abuse; urges the Prime Minister to take the opportunity of the visit to this country of President Chun Doo-Hwan to make strenuous representation of such acute concern, as she has been wont to do publicly in cases of other countries accused of similar or even less severe charges; and further urges her most earnestly to ensure that on the occasion of her reciprocal visit to South Korea next month she insists on meeting opposition representatives, especially Mr. Kim Dae Jung, Mr. Kim Young Sam, Mr. Lee Min Woo and Cardinal Kim Sou Dwan to satisfy herself and this country that they are made fully aware of prevailing circumstances and publicly to express British support for systems of government where opposition can be expressed freely, organised openly and demonstrated without penalty.]

[That this House calls upon the Prime Minister in her meeting with President Chun of South Korea to call for democratic reforms and the restoration of human rights in South Korea, to support Her Majesty's Government's official policy of the peaceful re-unification of the peninsula of Korea and to press for the withdrawal of all foreign troops and nuclear bases on Korean soil.]

The early-day motions deal with the visit of President Chun of South Korea. Will the Leader of the House ask the Prime Minister or the Foreign Secretary to make a statement, next week, from the Dispatch Box, to say whether the matters of human rights and freedoms of trade unions and the peaceful reunification of North and South Korea have been discussed? Unification is the official policy of the Government.

Mr. Biffen

I am sure that the House hopes that the visit of the President of South Korea will result in success from every point of view, not least in the mutual commercial interests that we have. I will certainly draw the attention of my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary to the points that the hon. Gentleman has made.

Sir Geoffrey Finsberg (Hampstead and Highgate)

Reverting to the Shops Bill, when my right hon. Friend has his talks through the usual channels, will he do two things? Will he refuse to succumb to the siren voices who believe that two hours extra debate will make the slightest difference, since most minds are already made up?

If my right hon. Friend listens to the advice of my hon. Friend the Member for Stamford and Spalding (Sir K. Lewis) and brings us here on a Sunday, will he arrange to make sure that public transport and public utilities are not working? That is the obvious wish of those who want nothing to be done on Sundays.

Mr. Biffen

I have had quite enough problems with the Shops Bill without trying to fine-tune our experiences on a Sunday. I will leave that to one side. I take account of what my hon. Friend says about the extension of time on Monday. I believe that a number of Members would like the time extended and it is something to be considered through the usual channels.

Mr. Ron Brown (Edinburgh, Leith)

Will the Leader of the House arrange an early debate on the middle east, bearing in mind the unstable nature of that part of the world and recognising that Mr. Reagan has not helped the position? Indeed, will the Leader of the House understand that all the threats against Libya, for all its faults, can only endanger our citizens who work legitimately for the Libyan Government?

Mr. Biffen

I have told the Leader of the Opposition that I thought we should try to find some agreed time for a foreign affairs debate. While I do not agree with overmuch of what the hon. Gentleman said, I agree that the middle east would be a central feature of such a debate.

Mr. Michael McNair-Wilson (Newbury)

In view of the important remark of my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) about the poisonous effect of certain legislation passed during the permissive sixties, does not my right hon. Friend think that the time that we shall use on the unnecessary Shops Bill could be better spent on reforming some of that legislation—for example, the Obscene Publications Act 1964?

Mr. Biffen

If one moves from the generality to the specific proposition, the whole matter becomes rather more contentious. However, my hon. Friend may well have the good fortune to make that point in Monday's debate.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. I am always reluctant to curtail business questions, but we have an important statement and a heavy day before us. I shall allow a further 10 minutes and then we must move on. If questions are brief, I shall be able to call every hon. Member who has been rising.

Mr. Robert N. Wareing (Liverpool, West Derby)

Has the Leader of the House noticed that more than 100 hon. Members from both sides of the House have signed early-day motion 627 congratulating the Disablement Income Group on its 21st anniversary?

[That this House congratulates the Disablement Income Group on achieving 21 years of service to the cause of disabled people; recognises its important role in informing Parliament and the public of the needs of disabled people; and looks forward to the attainment of its objectives, including the provision of a comprehensive national disability income, including a disablement costs allowance, and a society in which disabled people enjoy full equality of opportunity.] Does he agree that, if he wishes to be associated with that notice, he should respond to that organisation's press release of today calling for an abandonment of the Government's amendments to the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Monklands, West (Mr. Clarke), which is due for debate tomorrow? Does he agree that, in view of the curtailment of the debate on the Social Security Bill next week, the Government should respond by giving Government time to allow my hon. Friend's Bill to go through?

Mr. Biffen

First, the point of substance should be directed to the Minister who has responsibility for handling the Bill from the Government Bench. Secondly, there is a reasonable case to be made for the timetable motion that is being proposed next week. I do not wish there to be any misunderstanding whatever: there is no prospect of Government time being made available for the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Bill.

Mr. Richard Holt (Langbaurgh)

My right hon. Friend will recall that, although I am the Member of Parliament for Middlesbrough, South, I am banned from Middlesbrough council. He may care to bear in mind the disgraceful scenes at Middlesbrough council on Monday night this week when Labour councillors fought physically among themselves. If the Labour party does not have a topic for discussion next week, will my right hon. Friend suggest law and order, so that we could perhaps instil some sense of decency into the so-called leaders in our society?

Mr. Biffen

Those of us who have been students of the Labour party over many years have recognised that there has been a certain fraternal breeziness and occasionally a resort to excessive legalism, but that is a problem for the Leader of the Opposition. However, I shall bear in mind my hon. Friend's thoughtful proposal.

Mr. Eric Deakins (Walthamstow)

In view of the constitutional importance of the European Communities (Amendment) Bill which is now before the House, will the Leader of the House assure us that, in accordance with precedent, the Committee and Report stages will be taken on the Floor of the House?

Mr. Biffen

I shall certainly bear the hon. Gentleman's point in mind.

Mr. David Harris (St. Ives)

In underlining the pleas already made from both sides of the House for a debate next week or as soon as possible on the tin crisis, can I ask my right hon. Friend to bear in mind the extreme urgency of the position, brought home by laying off workers in the Geevor mine in my constituency and the shadow that that has cast over the whole industry in Cornwall? Is he aware that, if we are not careful, that industry, which has existed for more than 2,000 years, could disappear?

Mr. Biffen

My hon. Friend has conducted his advocacy of the cause of the industry and of his constituency with dignity and effectiveness throughout. I shall be only too happy to refer his remarks to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.

Dr. John Marek (Wrexham)

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the British Railways (Stansted) Bill, upon which debate was adjourned recently, should wait its turn so that other private Bills can be debated on the Floor of the House?

Mr. Biffen

Private legislation does not properly fall within my authority.

Mr. Peter Lilley (St. Albans)

Will my right hon. Friend seek to accommodate the excellent suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Darlington (Mr. Fallon) that we should attempt to have an early debate on mortgage income tax relief, by persuading the alliance parties to use their time to clarify their policies on the issue? This is increasingly important in view of their attempts to resile from clear statements. The environment spokesman for the Liberal party clearly stated that he would abolish mortgage income tax relief, and there was an equally clear statement by the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Deveonport (Dr. Owen) for the Social Democratic party, in an article in The Times, that he favoured the abolition of mortgage income tax relief. There are some doubts on those Benches, and hon. Members need to clarify their views on the matter.

Mr. Biffen

I am a hardened realist on these matters, and I do not believe there is any prospect of those on the alliance Benches providing a debate in which they have to face reality. That is why we have to use the much less seductive opportunities of the Committee stage of the Finance Bill. I realise that my hon. Friend has particular difficulties in that sense, and I am sorry about that.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

Down at Wapping, about 500 people have had to be provided with passes to reach their homes. Murdoch has robbed 5,000 people of their jobs and of the compensation that should have followed. The Government provided Murdoch with taxpayers' money to build fortress Wapping. In view of those facts, why are the Government frightened to have a debate on those and similar issues?

Mr. Biffen

I do not suppose that those who are demonstrating outside the works at Wapping are now, or have been in the past, among the most sensitive members of the community. It seems to me that they have been tough and that they exploited their economic position when they were able to do so. However if the position is really as disastrous as the hon. Gentleman suggests, it is quite clear what we should debate on Monday 21 April.

Mr. John Mark Taylor (Solihull)

When my right hon. Friend discusses the Leyland statement with the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, will he seek his reaction to the fact that the JCB offer apparently falls outside the deadline set by the Secretary of State himself? Will he also ask the Secretary of State to clarify the importance of the integrity of Freight Rover within the Land Rover group?

Mr. Biffen

That point has already been raised this afternoon. I will ensure that my right hon. Friend is made aware of my hon. Friend's remarks.

Mr. Dave Nellist (Coventry, South-East)

Has the Leader of the House seen early-day motion 699 on Government financial support for conductive education?

[That this House congratulates the BBC documentary team which produced 'Standing up for Joe' transmitted on Tuesday 1st April; is dismayed that the benefits of conductive education, having been recognised in the United Kingdom for over 20 years, have never been seriously studied with the intention of fully introducing them here; notes the signing of the Anglo-Hungarian cultural agreement on 21st March in Budapest which commits both sides to encouraging the conclusion of an agreement on co-operation between Birmingham University and the Teacher Training and Education Institute for the Motor Disabled; calls on the Government urgently to find the necessary £ ¼ million to ensure the successful start of that project and therefore to match the £200,000 promised by both Birmingham City Council and by Dr. Barnardo' s who, along with the Parkinson's Disease Society and others, have already committed themselves to the project's success; and firmly believes that conductive education could bring hope to the thousands of families with children unable to control bodily movements because of damage or disease in the brain or central nervous system, that their children will not be denied the opportunity to learn to master their difficulties, and that conductive education introduced into Britain could emulate the successes of the Budapest clinic where over 70 per cent. of the children completing the course go on to normal state education.]

On 21 March the Government and the Hungarian Government signed a cultural agreement promising close co-operation on the setting up in Birmingham of an institute similar to that in Budapest which teaches brain-damaged children to sit, walk and talk.

Will the right hon. Gentleman arrange for a statement to be made, either during tomorrow's debate on disabled people's rights, or on Monday, on whether or not the Government will find the £250,000 necessary to match the £200,000 that Dr. Barnado's and Birmingham city council have given so that British kids, instead of having to raise money through charity and go to Hungary, can look forward to having their degenerative diseases being properly treated in this country?

Mr. Biffen

I realise that the hon. Gentleman feels that the matter is germane to tomorrow's debate. I will therefore draw it to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services.

Mr. Peter Bruinvels (Leicester, East)

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the concern in the country about the random selection of potential jurors? Does he not agree that many of those selected have not the intelligence to he members of juries, and do not even acknowledge that prisons deter those who are guilty? They are social misfits, to an extent. They do not believe in punishment. Should there not be a debate next week to consider how jurors are selected?

Mr. Biffen

My hon. Friend's contribution is most interesting. I do not think that I can help him better than by saying that I will, of course, see that his remarks are referred to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.

Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)

Instead of curtailing discussion on the Social Security Bill next Tuesday, would it not be better to give that day's debate over to foreign affairs so that hon. Members could raise their concern about the bombing of the Island of Kaho'olawe in Hawaii, referred to in early-day motion 697?

[That this House, aware of the threat posed to the Hawaiian island of Kaho'olawe by bombing and shelling practice in the U.S. Navy's RIMPAC exercise, and aware of appeals by both the Hawaiian State Government and Hawaiian people for the protection of this sacred island with its many valuable historical sites and unique ecology, and knowing that the United States Government does not consider the bombing and shelling of Kaho' olawe to be essential to the RIMPAC exercise, and conscious that Australia, New Zealand and Japan have all refrained,from this target practice, calls upon Her Majesty's Government to consider withdrawing our naval forces or at least to instruct the Commander of the British contingent assigned to the RIMPAC exercise during Global '86 to refrain from bombing and shelling Kaho'olawe.] A large number of hon. Members have also signed three early-day motions about central America—553, 619, and 677. These important matters need to be debated in the House.

[That this House recognises the need to achieve a peaceful solution to the problems of Central America; is aware of the importance of the recently signed Caraballeda Declaration calling on the end to all foreign aid to irregular forces operating in Central America, the progressive elimination of all foreign forces in the region and the reduction of arms acquisitions; is further aware of the repeated calls of the Contadora countries to cease United States funding of the Contras and of the well-documented, appalling human rights violations by the Contras; calls on the United States Congress to reject President Reagan's request for increased aid, including military aid, to the Contras; calls on the United Kingdom Government to join with other European Economic Community countries to oppose publicly the request for military and other aid; and calls on the United States Administration to stop all efforts designed to bring down the Nicaraguan Government and to resume direct bilateral talks with the Nicaraguan Government which have been unilaterally suspended by the United States of America.]

[That this House is alarmed at the recent revelation of activity by the Contras against the democratically elected government of Nicaragua; is appalled that on 25th January 1985 in Waslala, Zelaya, a group of civilian travellers and children were ambushed on their way to meet President Ortega; is horrified that on 29th June 1984, Paco Sivilla, a teacher from Brownback, was hunted by a group of Contras and his ears, tongue and private parts cut off before he was brutally murdered; is shocked that in July 1984 Adám Flores, a 70-year-old man, was murdered by a force of 70 Contras; further believes that these are a few examples of the most appalling murders by Contra forces against the people of Nicaragua; believes that President Reagan's attempts to send a further $100 million in aid to the Contras can only continue the war and result in further murders of the Nicaraguan people; and accordingly demands that Her Majesty's Government put all possible pressure on President Reagan to cease all support for the Contras and respect the territorial integrity and peaceful wishes of the people of Nicaragua.]

[That this House is alarmed that President Reagan is further attempting to send military aid to the Contra forces in their desperate struggle to destroy the democratic government of Nicaragua; congratulates those members of the United States House of Representatives who voted to prevent the granting of $100 million aid and calls upon members of the United States Senate to do likewise; and further calls upon Her Majesty's Government to disassociate itself from United States policy in the region and declare its full recognition of the territorial integrity of Nicaragua.]

Mr. Biffen

Many hon. Members want an early debate on foreign affairs. However, in planning a programme, one must achieve a balance between general debates and specific commitments to legislation which must follow to some extent a pre-determined timetable based on the length of the Session.

Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)

Could my right hon. Friend give a little mild education to the Leader of the Opposition, and put right many campaigning organisations, by reminding them that a three-line Whip is a requirement to attend a debate, not a requirement to vote in a certain way? Members of this party, and probably of the Labour party, will vote according to their consciences. If the Patronage Secretary wants a three-line Whip, the reason may be that colleagues might otherwise be tempted to find more important business elsewhere.

Mr. Biffen

Well, there we are. My hon. Friend reminds me that Lord Hailsham reminded us during the Profumo debate that a three-line Whip was merely a summons to attend. In my experience, if one turns up on a three-line Whip and then goes off to the Tea Room, the Smoking Room or the Television Room, the Whips will not be entirely detached and other-wordly about the situation. The public know perfectly well what three-line Whips mean.

Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington)

On five occasions over the past four months I have raised the question of kidnap insurance policies being sold in the City, and the fact that those so insured are at risk. We hear from Ireland that Mrs Jennifer Guinness has been kidnapped. As the Leader of the House cannot comment upon what is happening over there, does he not feel that it is time for a statement to be made at the Dispatch Box telling the House and the country what the Government intend to do to stop such insurance policies from being sold, as they act as an incentive?

Mr. Biffen

I have sat on this Bench and heard exchanges between the hon. Gentleman and my hon. Friends—

Mr. Campbell-Savours

Five times, and no action.

Mr. Biffen

I did not necessarily hear five exchanges, but I can well believe it; it seemed like 50. I recollect that the hon. Gentleman was invited to produce further evidence.