HC Deb 02 July 1987 vol 118 cc627-40 3.31 pm
Mr. Neil Kinnock (Islwyn)

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

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

The business for next week will be as follows:

  • MONDAY 6 JULY—Debate on a Government motion on the future of the Today newspaper until 7 o'clock, followed by
  • Second Reading of the Local Government Bill.
  • TUESDAY 7 JULY—Motion on the Northern Ireland Act 1974 (Interim Period of Extension) Order, followed by motion on the Appropriation (No. 2) (Northern Ireland) Order and motion on the Northern Ireland Electricity Supply (Amendment) Order.
  • Afterwards motion on the Jury Trial (Amendment) (Northern Ireland) Order.
  • WEDNESDAY 8 JULY—Second Reading of the Finance Bill.
  • Motion on the Army, Air Force and Naval Discipline Acts (Continuation) Order.
  • Motion on the Channel Tunnel Bill.
  • At Ten o'clock the Question will be put on all outstanding Estimates.
  • THURSDAY 9 JULY— Second Reading of the British Shipbuilders (Borrowing Powers) Bill followed by Second Reading of the Dartford-Thurrock Crossing Bill.
  • FRIDAY 10 JULY — Debate on a motion for the Adjournment of the House entitled "The Importance of Quality in Manufacturing to International Competitiveness".
  • MONDAY 13 JULY— Motion for the Summer Adjournment.
  • Proceedings on the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill.
The House will wish to know, Mr. Speaker, that subject to the progress of business it will be proposed that the House should rise for the Summer Adjournment on Friday 24 July until Wednesday 21 October.

Mr. Kinnock

I know that I speak on behalf of the whole House when I say that I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his statement. I welcome the right hon. Gentleman to his new position. We hope that he will show the same very original mode of thought— the description that the Prime Minister used — as that shown by his predecessor, regardless of the jeopardy which that imposes on his future career.

I also welcome the concession made by the Government to our call for a debate on the future of the Today newspaper. Does the right hon. Gentleman share the public concern about the fact that another takeover by Mr. Rupert Murdoch does nothing but further diminish choice and the freedom of the press in our country as well as showing the Government's contempt for the procedures that provide for the reference of newspaper purchases to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission?

The Leader of the House will be aware that an all-party early-day motion about televising the proceedings of the House has attracted a very large number of signatures. May we have the right hon. Gentleman's assurance that there will be an early debate not only on the principle of televising our proceedings but on the best method by which that experiment can proceed? I know that the right hon. Gentleman's personal disagreement with the proposal to televise our proceedings will not in any way impede his anxiety to ensure that we have a fair debate on the subject.

Will the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House arrange for an urgent statement on the announcement yesterday that the Government intend to diminish the role of the National Economic Development Council? He will know that NEDC, which was established by a previous Conservative Government, provides the regular main opportunity for dialogue between the leaders of both sides of industry. In yesterday's announcement, was there not further evidence that we have a Government who hold such co-operation in contempt?

In view of the 52 per cent. increase in crime in the past eight years and the fact that yesterday's report from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis showed that the Met is just one of the police forces in Britain suffering from what Commissioner Newman called the lack of "basic policy requirement", will the Leader of the House arrange for an early debate on police force staffing levels in Britain?

The right hon. Gentleman will know that it is now seven years since the Education Act 1981 relating to special needs was passed. Is he familiar with the recent Select Committee report on the operation of the Act and the conclusion that it reached that the working of the Act has been restricted, as the Select Committee put it, by the lack of resources and the absence of "clear coherent" policy by the Government? Will the Leader of the House arrange for an urgent debate on that most important topic well before the Cabinet begin consideration of next year's public expenditure proposals?

The right hon. Gentleman will know that, for the past four years, some of the conventions and procedures in the House have been amended to take account of the rather special relationship that has existed between the Liberals and the Social Democratic party. In view of the apparent change that is taking place in that relationship, does the Leader of the House envisage any further amendments to our procedures and conventions to take account of the pending democratic diffusion?

Mr. Wakeham

I thank the Leader of the Opposition for his kind words at the beginning of his remarks. Slow as my shorthand was, I think that I got the points about which he asked. I shall seek to answer them in the order in which he asked them.

I do not accept for a minute the right hon. Gentleman's strictures about the Today newspaper, but I recognise the Opposition's concern. I have arranged the debate on Monday so that the Opposition can express their fears and the Government can put what I believe to be a strong case for their position.

I am sure that we shall be able to arrange a debate on televising the proceedings of the House. Discussions will take place through the usual channels as to the best form in which we can arrange it. I certainly will not allow my views to dominate the issue, and they would not be allowed to do so even if I wanted them to.

Neddy is relevant to today's debate. No doubt the Chancellor of the Exchequer will have something to say about it. In any case, I shall refer the Leader of the Opposition's points to him.

We had a debate on crime earlier in the week when many of the issues were raised. I cannot promise the right hon. Gentleman that I can shortly arrange another debate.

On the matter of the SDP and the Liberals, we shall have to watch how the situation develops. No doubt the usual channels will be able to discuss matters as the situation changes.

Sir Ian Lloyd (Havant)

My right hon. Friend's promotion will have been received with widespread approbation by the House. Will he give an assurance, which I imagine is sought on both sides of the House, that the six-month delay which preceded the setting up of Select Committees at the beginning of the last Parliament will not be matched by a similar delay on this occasion which would represent a serious and unnecessary waste of resources?

Mr. Wakeham

I recognise the concern on both sides of the House to get on with setting up the Select Committees as soon as possible. I pay tribute to my hon. Friend for the work that he and many others have done on Select Committees. Discussions are taking place through the usual channels. The setting up of Select Committees takes a little time, but we shall do it as quickly as we can.

Mr. Alfred Morris (Manchester, Wythenshawe)

Can the Leader of the House arrange for a statement next week on Manchester's applications for Government support for a light rapid transport system? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the crucial importance of that project for the regeneration of the inner city of Manchester?

Mr. Wakeham

I cannot give the right hon. Gentleman an undertaking, but I shall refer the matter to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport.

Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)

May I ask my right hon. Friend for an early statement on the rights of tenants in council accommodation, bearing in mind Ealing council's decision to take away tenancies from anyone accused of racism, simply on the basis of the accusation, whether the person is guilty of not?

Mr. Wakeham

It seems to me that that is a suitable subject for my hon. Friend to raise in the Summer Adjournment debate next week.

Mr. David Alton (Liverpool, Mossley Hill)

May I associate my right hon. and hon. Friends with the remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition in welcoming the Leader of the House to his new job? I also thank his predecessor, who showed characteristic generosity, courtesy and civility not just to us but to hon. Members throughout the House. We hope that that will be extended to everyone in future by the Leader of the House.

Can the right hon. Gentleman give the House any guidance about when the new Select Committees will be established? Is it his intention to re-establish the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs?

Mr. Wakeham

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind remarks to me, and particularly his kind remarks to my right hon. Friend the Member for Shropshire, North (Mr. Biffen), who held my post before me. I know that that feeling is shared by everybody in the House.

I cannot add anything further to what I have said to my hon. Friend the Member for Havant (Sir I. Lloyd). We shall get on with setting up the Select Committees as soon as we can.

Mr. Richard Alexander (Newark)

Does my right hon. Friend recollect that, shortly before the previous Parliament terminated, the Select Committee on the Environment produced a report on historic buildings and ancient monuments? Has he noticed that the organisation called English Heritage has described it as one of the most important reports on the man-made environment for many years, and has said that it should provide debate for some years to come. Could that debate start with an early debate in the House.

Mr. Wakeham

That is a good subject for debate. I shall see what can be done, but I cannot promise a debate in the immediate future.

Miss Marjorie Mowlam (Redcar)

May I draw attention to early-day motion 8?

[That this House, in the light of recent reports of child sexual abuse issuing from Cleveland and elsewhere, recalls with acute concern the claims registered by Incest Crisis Line, supported by many other agencies both statutory and voluntary, that children subjected to sexual abuse are the source of 90 per cent. of all rapists, 30 per cent. of all rape victims, 40 per cent. of alcoholics, 40 per cent. of drug addicts, 30 per cent. of children in care, 75 per cent. of female and almost 100 per cent. of male prostitutes; notes with extreme anxiety the total lack of co-ordination between bodies charged with a statutory responsibility for providing safeguards and ensuring justice in these matters; and calls on Her Majesty's Government to fund the resourcing of agencies specialising in proper counter-measures and to establish, as a matter of urgency, a Royal Commission to receive evidence to establish the true scale of child sexual abuse and make proposals for legislative measures designed specifically to ensure a framework of true justice for everyone, genuine remedial provision for the culprit and, above all, protection and fairness for the child victims.] The motion was submitted last Thursday by my hon. Friend the Member for Stockton, North (Mr. Cook). More than 100 hon. Members have signed it. In view of the importance of the issue and the fact that it has been announced to the House that the recess will begin on 24 July, will the Leader of the House consider giving time to discussing that most important matter?

Mr. Wakeham

I recognise the importance of the matter, but my hon. Friend the Minister for Health expects to receive reports early next week from the Northern regional health authority and from the social services inspectorate team, which at his request is examining the situation in Cleveland. In the light of those reports, the Government will decide what further action may be needed and what form it should take. I think that I had better not deal with anything in the House until I have received that information.

Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)

As we know, my right hon. Friend is a generous and charitable man, and, as he knows, the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Dr. Owen) is an exceedingly ambitious man. As the latter is now a captain without a ship, and as he now does not have the prospect of a hung Parliament before him, can my right hon. Friend do the decent thing and find a way for the right hon. Gentleman to join the Conservative Party?

Mr. Wakeham

I think that the right hon. Member for Plymouth, Devonport has work enough on his hands at the moment, and we will leave it to him.

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

Is the Leader of the House aware that there is an urgent need for a complete Government boycott of all the products of Eli Lilly, the firm that manufactured Opren, because that firm has paid compensation to people in the United States who were damaged but has refused to pay one penny to the British people who were appallingly damaged by the same drug? As the British Government are involved in that great drug disaster as a result of accepting and agreeing to that drug by registering it, may we have an early debate, and will the Leader of the House look at early-day motion 16?

[That thiss House notes that United States citizens who were seriously damaged by the medical drug Opren have been paid compensation by the pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly: further notes that British victims suffering the same dreadful injuries after taking the same drug are refused compensation by the same firm, which is hiding behind the inadequacies of British law; calls upon Eli Lilly to pay the same compensation to British victims as to those in the United States of America; urges Her Majesty's Government to support this request; and, if it is rejected, to refuse all further National Health Service contracts with Eli Lilly, and to boycott its products where alternative suppliers are available.]

Mr. Wakeham

As the right hon. Gentleman himself recognised, the Government are a party to legal proceedings that are before the courts and it would be wrong of me to say anything on the subject at this stage.

Mr. Ivan Lawrence (Burton)

My right hon. Friend will know that the Foreign Affairs Committee of this House today produced a most important, constructive and elegant report on Cyprus. May I ask him that the matter not be subsumed in a debate on foreign affairs but that a special debate be set aside so that this urgent matter, about which Britain has deep concerns, can be debated properly?

Mr. Wakeham

I recognise the importance of the subject and the report, but the first thing for me to do is to talk to my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs about the matter.

Ms. Joan Ruddock (Lewisham, Deptford)

Will the Leader of the House give an assurance that a debate will be held on the Defence Estimates before the House goes into recess?

Mr. Wakeham

I cannot promise a debate on defence before the House goes into recess, but I promise that there will be a debate soon after we come back.

Mr. John Heddle (Mid-Staffordshire)

Does my right hon. Friend accept that, following representations from right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House, there is great concern about the unfairnesses suffered by dairy farmers and others because of the iniquities in the compensation for coal mining subsidence? Is he aware that the Waddilove committee was set up some four years ago, and that that committee's recommendations languished within the Department of Energy? Will he use his best endeavours to ensure that the House debates the recommendations of the Waddilove committee at the earliest possible moment?

Mr. Wakeham

I shall certainly refer that matter to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy. I wonder whether my hon. Friend might use the opportunity of the Summer Adjournment debate to raise it.

Mr. Andrew Faulds (Warley, East)

Before the House launches into yet another examination of the inadvisability of televising its proceedings——

Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)

My hon. Friend would be on every day.

Mr. Faulds

Some of us would be better stars than others. Will the hon. Gentleman——

Mr. Speaker

Order. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman needs any prompting.

Mr. Faulds

I am relieved, Sir. Will the right hon. Gentleman seriously consider providing an audio Green Paper containing recordings of some of the previous proceedings of the House to show how appallingly the media handle what happens here? They choose the punch-up and the rudery instead of the hours of serious debate.

Mr. Wakeham

I shall certainly take note of what the hon. Gentleman says. I cannot help recalling that some years ago he and I toured New Zealand together, and every night there appeared to be a repeat of "Lorna Doone" in which he starred regularly.

Sir Dudley Smith (Warwick and Leamington)

May I reiterate the request that I made to my right hon. Friend's predecessor just before the election for a debate in prime time about AIDS in the not too distant future? I understand that it will be difficult because of the recess, but it is a serious and important matter which affects the whole country. It is important to have regular updating of the Government's position on the problem.

Mr. Wakeham

I fully recognise the importance of the matter, but I want a little time in which to think about when we can have a debate on it.

Mr. D. E. Thomas (Meirionnydd Nant Conwy)

Has the Leader of the House had an opportunity to study early-day motion 32 in the name of my hon. Friends and myself?

[That this House notes with dismay the absence of the Secretary of State for Wales, the Right honourable Member for Worcester, from the Chamber of the House for the debate on the Queen's Speech on Monday 29th June, particularly in view of the subject of that day's debate, namely, 'The Social and Economic Divisions of the Nations and Regions of Britain'; further notes that he only entered the Chamber to listen to the speech of the Right honourable Member for Henley on the inner cities' needs and that he preferred to spend time talking to Tory colleagues from English constituencies, rather than give attention to a major debate on disparities within Britain; and concludes that he has as little interest in Wales as had the Prime Minister in appointing him to his present post.]

If the right hon. Gentleman has had an opportunity to study the motion, will he arrange time for an early debate on its contents in view of the fact that the Prime Minister has refused my request to discuss with her the nature of this ministerial appointment and the constitutional crisis that it provokes in this House and in Wales?

Mr. Wakeham

I know that representatives of the ministerial team from the Welsh Office were on the Bench for most of that debate. In my view, the appointment of my right hon. Friend the Member for Worcester (Mr. Walker) can do nothing but good for the Principality of Wales. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will agree that what matters is not whether a person has this or that background but the way in which he does his job. I know that my right hon. Friend will do his job very well indeed.

Sir Anthony Grant (Cambridgeshire, South-West)

In view of the many demands for debates in parliamentary time that my right hon. Friend receives, is he aware that some of us consider it a complete waste of parliamentary time to debate a clapped-out newspaper with a minor circulation? If the Opposition were so fussed, why did he not tell them to use a Supply day?

Mr. Wakeham

My hon. Friend would perhaps best make his trenchent points in the debate next Monday if he should catch your eye, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Nigel Griffiths (Edinburgh, South)

Will the Leader of the House arrange for an early debate, preferably before the recess, on the cash crisis faced by Edinburgh university and other Edinburgh further education establishments? Is he aware of the plight of further education as a result of Government policy?

Mr. Wakeham

I cannot accept the hon. Gentleman's strictures, nor can I undertake to find Government time for a debate. However, there are other times in the parliamentary timetable between now and the recess when he should find an opportunity to make the points that he wishes to make.

Mr. Anthony Nelson (Chichester)

Despite the past and personal misgivings of my right hon. Friend on the question of broadcasting, I hope that he will understand that some Conservative Members support representations from all parties for it and, indeed, that many hon. Members from all parties have signed the early-day motion standing in my name. Will he therefore consider favourably the question of a debate before the summer recess on the basis that it is wholly unreasonable that the proceedings of the House may be listened to, read and viewed, but may not be seen on television?

Mr. Wakeham

Those are powerful arguments, but I do not see a chance to have a proper structured debate before the summer recess. I hope that my hon. Friend will not get me a reputation for stubbornness too early in my term of office.

Mr. Andrew Welsh (Angus, East)

Will the Leader of the House state when the next meeting of the Scottish Grand Committee will take place and give an assurance that there will be no changes in the membership of that Committee? Given that the Conservative party is a minority party in Scotland, will he accept the evidence of his predecessor that we cannot go on as before with a minority party governing Scottish affairs?

Mr. Wakeham

This is a United Kingdom Parliament, the Conservative party has a substantial majority and we shall proceed very much as before. I cannot give the hon. Gentleman the undertaking that he requests.

Mr. James Hill (Southampton, Test)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that during the election campaign one of the most serious complaints was against the standing charges for telephones, gas, electricity and water? Certainly they are affecting elderly persons. Is it not time to have a debate on whether the standing charges are desirable or, indeed, can he sustained?

Mr. Wakeham

My hon. Friend should perhaps try his luck in the Summer Adjournment debate next week.

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

In view of the serious public disquiet in Liverpool and elsewhere at the mistakes made in cervical cancer screening in that city, is it not time that we had a statement from the Secretary of State so that there could be both a short debate and some restoration of public confidence in this service which is vital to more than half the population?

Mr. Wakeham

Naturally, I share with the hon. Gentleman his deep understanding of the importance of these matters, but I cannot add anything to what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in answer to questions this afternoon.

Mr. Jonathan Aitken (Thanet, South)

Will my right hon. Friend give some further details about the surprise motion on the Channel tunnel which is to be debated next week? Is he aware that the opposition to this misguided, underwater white elephant has now been reinforced by the arrival of my hon. Friends the Members for Dover (Mr. Shaw) and for Canterbury (Mr. Brazier) and other hon. Members and that we may therefore need more time to debate these issues, and particularly the question why the Department of Transport has suppressed all its traffic forecasts on the Channel tunnel — presumably to help Eurotunnel publicise its much more optimistic forecast?

Mr. Wakeham

My hon. Friend may not have got the situation quite right, because the motion asks that the Lords message of 7 May be considered. Therefore, there has been a little time.

Mr. Graham Allen (Nottingham, North)

Given the Leader of the House's reservations about televising our proceedings in the Chamber, with which even ardent advocates of such a scheme who have been here just one week may begin to sympathise, will he consider the Select Committee on Sound Broadcasting recommendations that, at least initially, Select Committees should be televised? Will he provide time for a debate on that matter?

Mr. Wakeham

That is one way in which the House may decide to proceed. It will be up to the House to decide when we have had a proper debate and have considered all the issues.

Mr. Michael Fallon (Darlington)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that those of us who want to see fresh investment in the north are becoming increasingly fed up with those who talk down the region? We would welcome an opportunity to debate the document "Regional Trends" and to draw attention to the real progress that has been made in the north-east in home ownership, new enterprise and self-employment.

Mr. Wakeham

I agree with my hon. Friend. I hope that before too long it will be possible to have a debate.

Rev. Martin Smyth (Belfast, South)

Will the Leader of the House acknowledge that it is significant that in the debate on the Gracious Speech, while welcoming back Ulster Members, none of the Ministers who wound up the debate each day referred to any of the Ulster contributions? Although in the coming week there is a day for a debate on Northern Ireland issues, most of it is under Order in Council and, therefore, we cannot suggest amendments. Would it be possible to have a debate in the near future so that we can get off this siding into which we have been shunted and can become part of this Parliament and part of the nation? Will it be possible to have a debate in the near future on the concept of federalism arising out of the way that the nation has now voted to give regions a greater say?

Mr. Wakeham

Of course I welcome the greater part that Ulster Members are playing in the House. However, I cannot offer the hon. Gentleman the debate that he wants in the near future.

Mr. Michael Brown (Brigg and Cleethorpes)

Will my right hon. Friend consider making Government time available to introduce legislation so that the people who voted Liberal and SDP at the general election can have a referendum about whether they might want to change their vote now that they have been sold what is clearly a false prospectus? They were told that there would be some great alliance, unity, coalition. They have been sold a pup and need to have an opportunity to change their minds so that they can see the sham for which they voted.

Mr. Wakeham

In my constituency people thought that the alliance was a building society! I am afraid that there is no chance of a debate next week.

Mr. Dennis Canavan (Falkirk, West)

Will the Leader of the House arrange for an early statement by the Home Secretary about the directions by the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis on peaceful demonstrations outside the South African embassy? This morning I and three of my hon. Friends, after negotiations with a senior police officer, were allowed peacefully to demonstrate on the pavement immediately adjacent to the South African embassy while other citizens were arrested for attempting to exercise the same right.

In order to avoid any allegations that there is one law for Members of Parliament and another law for everybody else, would it not be in the best interests of all concerned for the Home Secretary to use his position as the police authority for the Metropolitan police to ensure that all citizens are given equal rights of peaceful protest outside that embassy against the evil apartheid regime in South Africa?

Mr. Wakeham

Obviously, I am not able to comment on that. However, I shall refer the matter to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.

Mr. Eric Forth (Mid-Worcestershire)

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that next Monday's debate on the effects of a merger of major publicity organs would be the appropriate moment for the House to debate the possible effects of a merger between the SDP and the Liberal party; or would my right hon. Friend be prepared to undertake in the public interest a reference of the possible merger of the SDP and the Liberal party to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission?

Mr. Wakeham

Their market share may be rather too low for such a reference. Whether the speech that my hon. Friend wishes to make on Monday will be in order is not a matter for me.

Mr. Roland Boyes (Houghton and Washington)

Does the Leader of the House accept that many of us in the Opposition do not agree with the Prime Minister's contention that London is the best location for the European trade mark office, and that a constituency with high unemployment such as mine ought to have been considered for its location? Will he arrange for an early statement on this matter so that the outrage of my constituents can be given expression in this Chamber, because my constituents have once again been ignored by the Prime Minister, who does not give a damn about the north of England?

Mr. Wakeham

I cannot accept the strictures of the hon. Gentleman on my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. I do not think that I can add anything to the statement that she made during Prime Minister's Question Time.

Mr. Kenneth Hind (Lancashire, West)

Will my right hon. Friend ensure, in the light of our neglect of our archaeological heritage—which is a most important part of our tourist trade — that a Minister from the Department of the Environment who is responsible for our archaeological heritage will be present for tomorrow's debate on tourism to answer points raised by Back Benchers?

Mr. Wakeham

I can confirm that the debate tomorrow will be on tourism, and I shall see that the appropriate Ministers are here to listen to the contributions of my hon. Friend and others.

Mr. Greville Janner (Leicester, West)

Is the Leader of the House aware how fortunate he is that all three Leicester seats are now represented by Labour Members, all of whom support the prodigious efforts of the excellent Labour-controlled council there? May I ask an uncontroversial question? Will the right hon. Gentleman arrange for an early debate on war crimes, and in particular on the refusal of the United Nations to open up the files that it recently discovered which show the personal complicity of Adolf Hitler in the holocaust, and which also reveal the activities of President Waldheim during the war?

Mr. Wakeham

If the hon. and learned Gentleman believes the substance of his first question, he will believe anything, but I do not think for a minute that he does. As for his second question, I agree that it is a serious matter. Although I cannot offer Government time, I think that the hon. and learned Gentleman could chance his luck in the Summer Adjournment debate on Monday.

Mr. Andrew MacKay (Berkshire, East)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, in the light of the recent election campaign, there is widespread concern about the regulations governing applications for postal votes, which seem to make it as hard as possible for anyone to exercise his democratic right. Will it be possible before the Summer Recess for my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to make a statement on his findings on how the new regulations worked at the last election?

Mr. Wakeham

I shall certainly refer the matter to my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Tony Banks

Notwithstanding the blighted thespian career of my hon. Friend the Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds)——

Mr. Faulds

A blighted parliamentarian now.

Mr. Banks

—and his refusal to accept the lifeline that the televising of Parliament would give him, does the Leader of the House accept that there is considerable support on both sides of the House for the televising of Parliament? Would it not be most acceptable and advisable, if the Government cannot arrange a debate before the recess, for us to have some form of consultative paper so that, during their quiet and reflective moments during the three-month recess, hon. Members may think about coming back after the recess and voting in favour?

Mr. Wakeham

There is quite a lot of documentation about the issue. I have no doubt that it is a decisive issue on both sides of the House and within both parties, and I think that we shall need a proper structured debate, probably in the autumn.

Mr. Ivor Stanbrook (Orpington)

Has my right hon. Friend's attention been drawn to early-day motion 6 on the denial of war service credit to Overseas Civil Service pensioners?

[That this House deplores the fact that, alone among public service pensioners, those whose service was overseas cannot count pre-appointment war service towards their pensions; and culls upon Her Majesty's Government to remedy this injustice to a dwindling group of elderly people whose working lives were spent in adverse conditions while dedicated to the service of British interests overseas.] Does he agree that this situation is disgraceful and ought to be remedied? Overseas Civil Service pensioners administered the Empire, but they are treated worse than the meanest little scribblers in the Home Civil Service. Should not the Government remedy this injustice immediately?

Mr. Wakeham

We recognise how strongly colonial service pensioners feel about the issue, and we are keeping it under careful review. However, there are many claims on public expenditure resources, and we have not so far been able to accommodate the extra commitment. I am sorry to disappoint my hon. Friend.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. We have a full day ahead of us, with a large number of maiden speeches. I shall endeavour to call every hon. Member, but I ask for brief questions.

Mr. Harry Ewing (Falkirk, East)

May I return to the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) about peaceful demonstration, not only in London but elsewhere? Will the Leader of the House examine the circumstances that prevail when petitions are presented at the door of No. 10 Downing street? My right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) and I went to extreme lengths to negotiate with Cannon Row police station and No. 10 to present a petition at 11 o'clock this morning, a time set by No. 10. However, when we arrived with the people who were petitioning the Prime Minister, the police —obviously acting on instructions from No. 10— kept us waiting for a very long time, and then told us that no one was to be allowed into Downing street. When they were telling us that, almost every representative of the press, both inside and outside——

Mr. Speaker

Order. Does the hon. Gentleman want a debate on the matter?

Mr. Ewing

No, Sir.

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Gentleman must stick to the convention, which is to ask for a debate next week.

Mr. Ewing

I am not asking for a debate next week. I am asking the Leader of the House to come back next week and make a statement on the circumstances prevailing when arrangements have been made for the presentation of a petition. Petitioning is still part of the democratic process in this country, and No. 10 Downing street ought not to try to frustrate it in any way.

Mr. Wakeham

I shall see to it that the hon. Gentleman's representations, along with those of his hon. Friend the Member for Falkirk, West, (Mr. Canavan) are put to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. We shall see how we go from there.

Mr. Frank Cook (Stockton, North)

The Leader of the House has already listened graciously to my hon. Friend the Member for Redcar (Miss Mowlam). Sadly, he found himself unable to give a firm commitment— although I can understand his caution— about a debate on the subject of child abuse until he has received the results of the inquiry now taking place. However, will he bear in mind that this is not just a Cleveland problem, but one that concerns the entire United Kingdom? Will he give the House an assurance today that, when he and his colleagues have received the results of the inquiry, those results will be made available to the House for consideration?

Mr. Wakeham

I recognise the importance of the matter, and that it does not relate only to Cleveland: there is concern about it in many parts of the country. However, I do not think that I should go any further than to discuss the matter with the Minister responsible before deciding what to do.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

Did the Leader of the House hear the careful and legalistic words of the director of finance for Lothian region on "The World this Weekend" to the effect that, in his professional opinion, at least 90 statutory instruments would be needed for the implementation of the poll tax in Scotland? Next week, had we not better start on the 8,100 minutes of parliamentary time? My Scottish colleagues and I will go to the end of each separate statistic. Otherwise, would it not be better to have a quiet think over the summer and ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for example, how he will pay for the 70 full-time canvassers needed in Lothian region alone to keep an updated register? Should not the Government think about the mechanics of what they propose?

Mr. Wakeham

The hon. Gentleman always puts his points with great courtesy. However, I do not accept his strictures. We must see how we get along.

Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)

May we have a statement next week from the Secretary of State for Transport on the axe that is currently hanging over the Settle to Carlisle railway? The railway is a very valuable facility, not only for the people of Bradford and west Yorkshire, but for those in a much wider area, but it has now been under threat of closure for four years. The Secretary of State says that it is a complicated case, but in fact it is very straightforward. The railway makes a profit, and it is an important trunk route and a valuable part of our heritage. The people want it to be saved. Will the Secretary of State come to the House next week and make a clear statement to the effect that this profitable service will be maintained for the people of Yorkshire?

Mr. Wakeham

I shall certainly refer the matter to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport.

Mr. Robert Parry (Liverpool, Riverside)

The Leader of the House will have seen early-day motion 5.

[That this House condemns the repression of the democracy and human rights in South Korea; supports the Opposition leaders, church spokesmen and students in their opposition to the present discredited government; and calls upon Her Majesty's Government to make the strongest protest to the South Korean Government or else break off diplomatic relations until democracy and human rights are restored.]

It relates to democracy and human rights in South Korea. Matters have improved in the last few days, but will the Leader of the House ask his right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary to make representations to the Government of South Korea and ask for full democracy in South Korea and for the right of the opposition leaders, Kim Dae Jung and Kim Young Sam, to campaign freely for the release of all political prisoners in that Fascist régime?

Mr. Wakeham

I shall see that the hon. Gentleman's concern is conveyed to my right hon. and learned Friend.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

Will the Leader of the House arrange for the Secretary of State for Energy to make a statement on the sale of National Coal Board houses at Calverley Creswell in my constituency several months ago, since many of the tenants are still unaware of who their landlords are, despite repeated requests in this House and elsewhere for the board to find out to whom it has sold those houses? Scores of tenants in that area are unable to find out who now owns their properties. Will he also bear in mind that it would show up the Government's legislation to sell off council estates in the light that we forecast many times: that if the board can sell off properties and six or nine months later people do not know who their landlords are, God knows what will happen when this Government get permission to sell off large council estates.

Mr. Wakeham

I do not accept for a moment the hon. Gentleman's strictures, or the points that he has made. However, I shall certainly refer his question to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy.

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

I assure the Leader of the House that the Labour party will not allow the Guinness affair to disappear during the summer recess. When will we have the interim report? Are we to get it? Is there to be a statement before the summer recess? In the light of the very lenient sentence that was imposed yesterday on Mr. Collier, which was shameful and a disgrace to the British courts, may we have a debate before the recess on that matter?

Mr. Wakeham

I cannot promise a debate before the summer recess. The hon. Gentleman knows that it is not the practice for Members of the Government to comment on matters that are before the courts. Nevertheless, I shall refer the hon. Gentleman's points to my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Alex Salmond (Banff and Buchan)

Is the Leader of the House prepared to extend the scope of Monday's debate on the Today newspaper to include the crisis at The Scotsman newspaper where management and owners seem intent on turning a national institution into a regional rag?

Mr. Wakeham

Monday's debate will take place on a Government motion whose terms will be discussed through the usual channels.

Mr. John Maxton (Glasgow, Carthcart)

In view of the Government's crushing defeat in Scotland on 11 June, is it not a gross insult to the people of Scotland that the first piece of major Scottish legislation should be tagged on to the end of the Local Government Bill? Would it not be better that this legislation, for which the Government have no mandate in Scotland, should be taken out of that Bill and that a separate Bill for Scotland should be published and put before the House?

Mr. Wakeham

However many times the hon. Gentleman repeats those remarks, the fact is that the Labour party lost the general election and that the Conservative party won it. The legislation that we are bringing before the House is good legislation, and I hope that it will be passed by a large majority.

Mr. John Home Robertson (East Lothian)

The Leader of the House will obviously have to be taught who won the election in Scotland. Will he expand on the reply that he gave to the hon. Member for Angus, East (Mr. Welsh) about the composition of Scottish Committees? Will he accept it from me that the people of Scotland who have just elected 62 Opposition Members of Parliament and only 10 Tory Members of Parliament, will not tolerate the packing of Scottish Committees with English Tory Members?

Mr. Wakeham

The composition of the Committees is a matter that will be discussed through the usual channels. I have no doubt that we shall find a satisfactory solution to all our difficulties.