HC Deb 19 November 1987 vol 122 cc1208-19 3.56 pm
The Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. John Wakeham)

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement about the business for next week.

MONDAY 23 NOVEMBER—Opposition Day (4th Allotted Day). Debate on a motion in the name of the leader of the Liberal party entitled "The Future Government of Scotland".

TUESDAY 24 NOVEMBER — Until about Seven o'clock Second Reading of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency Bill.

Motion to take note of EC documents on CAP reform and agricultural stabilisers. Details will be given in the Official Report.

WEDNESDAY 25 NOVEMBER—Remaining stages of the Urban Development Corporations (Financial Limits) Bill followed by remaining stages of the Scottish Development Agency Bill.

Afterwards motion on the Food Protection (Emergency Prohibitions) (England) Order.

THURSDAY 26 NOVEMBER — Opposition Day (5th Allotted Day). There will be a debate on an Opposition motion entitled "Worsening Financial Pressures on National Health Service Hospitals".

Motion relating to financial assistance to Opposition parties.

FRIDAY 27 NOVEMBER—Private Members' Motions.

MONDAY 30 NOVEMBER — Second Reading of the Education Reform Bill.

[Debate on Tuesday 24 November Relevant European documents:

(a) 8250187 Common Agricultural Policy Reforms

(b) 8761/87 & ADD 1 to 4 Agricultural stabilizers

(c) 9066187 Certain oranges: prices and budgetary stabilizers

(d) 6116/87 & COR 1 Income support for. farmers.

Relevant Reports of European Legislation Committee:

(a) HC 43-iii (1987–88), para 1

(b) HC 43-iv (1987–88) para 2

(c) HC 43-v (1987–88) para 4

(d) HC 43-i (1987–88) para 2]

Mr. Neil Kinnock (Islwyn)

I am grateful to the Leader of the House for the statement. The right hon. Gentleman will have noticed that even some of the Government's most ardent supporters in the other place, who debated the matter yesterday, registered the fact that they had little or no confidence in the present handling of science and the science budget. I have asked previously for a debate on the Government's failures in that area. Will the Leader of the House now give us a date for such a debate?

There is growing concern over the recent report of the National Radiological Protection Board about the safety levels of exposure to radiation. Will the Leader of the House arrange for a statement to be made on the report as soon as possible, since there is widespread and justifiable concern?

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman why there will be only one day's debate on the Education Reform Bill? The Education Bill of 1944, which is the foundation of the provisions that the Government are now seeking to destroy, was given proper time in the House. Will the Leader of the House, even at this late stage, arrange for a two-day Second Reading debate because it is a matter of general and considerable interest and concern?

I assume that we shall have the Second Reading of the poll tax Bill some time before Christmas. I am sure that the Leader of the House shares my view that such an important constitutional matter should not be debated too close to the festive season, with all its natural distractions. Could he therefore tell us when the Second Reading debate will be?

Finally, I note that the Prime Minister's PPS has been breaking his Trappist vows on the subject of the televising of the proceedings of this House. As there is strong support on both sides of the House for the change, will the right hon. Gentleman tell us when this important debate will take place?

Mr. Wakeham

The right hon. Gentleman asked me five questions. First he asked whether I could announce a debate on science and research matters. I cannot give him a date for that. I shall be happy to organise a debate as soon as I can—time is pressing—because I am sure that the Government would like a further opportunity to point out that our contribution to science and research compares very well with that of many of our major competitors.

The right hon. Gentleman asked me about the National Radiological Protection Board report. The board's speedy response to the statement of the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment is welcome and the Departments with regulatory responsibilities will be considering the report in detail to see whether any changes in United Kingdom policy are needed. They will report to the House if anything should arise from that.

The right hon. Gentleman asked me about the Education Reform Bill and asked whether there should be a two-day debate rather than the one-day debate that is intended at present. I do not think that a two-day debate is necessary but I can arrange for discussions on the matter through the usual channels to see whether we can extend the one-day debate later into the evening.

The right hon. Gentleman asked me when the Second Reading debate on the Community Charge Bill would be. I cannot tell him the exact date, but I believe that many millions of people will consider that to have a Second Reading debate before Christmas would be an excellent opportunity.

On the televising of Parliament, I have already said that I will discuss the matter through the usual channels and with other interested parties, and I hope that the debate can take place around the turn of the year — perhaps very soon after Christmas.

Sir Dudley Smith (Warwick and Leamington)

In view of the constant allegations by the Opposition and the media about Health Service cuts and delays in operations, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he is aware that our hon. Friend, the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security announced two days ago at the European Health Ministers conference that we now lead the world in transplant surgery and in the number of operations performed? Is he further aware that despite next Thurday's Opposition debate many Conservative Members would welcome a full debate on the financing of the Health Service and its future in the latter part of the 20th century?

Mr. Wakeham

I was aware of my hon. Friend's points. I hope that, in the absense of a better opportunity, he will be able to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, in the debate next Thursday.

Mr. James Wallace (Orkney and Shetland)

I am sure that we wish the Secretary of State for Social Services better health. However, will the Leader of the House make it known that there is some disappointment that the long-awaited statement on primary care has not been made? Can he tell us whether it will be made before Christmas? If the statement is made, will there be an opportunity for the Secretary of State for Scotland, who is responsible for health in Scotland, to make a separate statement so that Scottish Members have the opportunity to question him?

Mr. Wakeham

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his good wishes to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services. Certainly the statement on primary health care will be made very shortly. I cannot answer the hon. Gentleman's question about a Scottish statement, but I shall refer it to my right hon. Friend.

Mr. John Townend (Bridlington)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that early-day motion 275 concerning the future of the national dock labour scheme has now been signed by more than 100 hon. Members?

[That this House believes that the National Dock Labour Scheme is an anachronism which both endangers the viability of jobs in the scheme areas and acts as a deterrent to job creation by new ventures; and calls on Her Majesty's Government to abolish the scheme, and open negotiations immediately with employers and unions to bring that about.]

Is he further aware that a growing number of Conservative Members feel that the national dock labour scheme is not in line with the Government's principles. Will he find time for a debate on the matter in the near future?

Mr. Wakeham

I have indeed seen my hon. Friend's motion. The Government made it clear in the last Parliament that they have no plans to change the operations of the scheme, and that remains the position. However, such matters are kept under review and I shall certainly refer my hon. Friend's remarks to the Secretary of State.

Mr. Michael J. Martin (Glasgow, Springburn)

Is the Leader of the House aware that in my constituency and in other Glasgow constituencies, review committees, which are not democratic bodies by any means, are considering the future of primary schools? Some of the proposals will entail young children having to negotiate the Townhead interchange, which is one of the biggest motorway interchanges in the United Kingdom. Furthermore, young children are being expected to cross main roads. If the future of our children is to be considered in this manner, we should surely debate the matter in the House.

Mr. Wakeham

I certainly take on board the concern that the hon. Gentleman expresses on behalf of his constituents. The first step is for me to have a word with the Secretary of State for Scotland to consider how best to proceed.

Sir Hugh Rossi (Hornsey and Wood Green)

Will my right hon. Friend consider giving time for an early and urgent debate on an act of arrogant political dictatorship by Haringey borough council? The council has removed all opposition members from its committees and outside bodies on the ground that they have refused to sign a questionnaire, which goes far beyond a declaration of legitimate interest, and which is at least impertinent and at most an infringement of individual civil liberties, as has been confirmed by the National Council for Civil Liberties. This act has deprived the majority of my constituents of proper representation on the authority that looks after their local interests.

Mr. Wakeham

My hon. Friend makes an important point. I understand that there is no statutory obligation on councillors to complete such a questionnaire, but there is a statutory obligation on them to declare a pecuniary interest when it arises in debate. That appears to be the better approach. The Government are considering carefully the prevention of such abuses in the light of the recommendations made in the Widdicombe report.

Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)

Will the Leader of the House find time to read the report of Tuesday's Supply day debate on the provision of public transport in this country, and see what was said about the state of London Regional Transport? Will the Leader of the House arrange for an early debate on the provision of emergency services in London, given that we face the loss of hundreds of uniformed fire brigade officers and that we are suffering cuts in the ambulance service and in the National Health Service generally. London's emergency services do not want simply to hear tributes from this House for the service that they provide in times of emergency ; they want to hear that the Government are taking action.

Mr. Wakeham

I think that it would be better if the hon. Gentleman, not I, read the report of last Tuesday's debate. He has given what sounds to me a very distorted account of the proceedings, during which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State made an extremely good speech. Of course, it is right and proper for emergency service matters to be debated in this House, but not on the basis of the hon. Gentleman's wild allegations. The best way to proceed after the recent tragedy is to wait for the inquiry's report and then for the House to consider how best to proceed.

Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)

Will my right hon. Friend arrange for a statement from the Home Secretary or an early debate on broadcasting so that the concern of the Salvation Army and some of the churches about the withdrawal by the broadcasting authorities of the film "The Love of God" can be considered? The arrogance of the broadcasting authorities allows them to show violence and other objectionable material for hours on end, while a valuable film such as this cannot be shown at all. We want to know why.

Mr. Wakeham

I shall refer the matter to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. Even if my right hon. Friend does not think that it is right to make a statement next week, I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway), can find a way of raising the matter on the Floor of the House.

Mrs. Margaret Ewing (Moray)

Is the Leader of the House aware that his statement will be followed by a statement on education by the Secretary of State for Scotland. Given that we are to have a debate on Monday week about the English education system and that we are about to hear our second major statement about Scottish education, could we not at least have a meeting of the Scottish Grand Committee to enable us to pick up the issues affecting Scottish education so that the democratic voices of the Scottish people can be democratically heard?

Mr. Wakeham

I understand the hon. Lady's concern to debate those issues. This is a matter that we can best discuss through the usual channels.

Mr. James Pawsey (Rugby and Kenilworth)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that we are delighted that we shall be debating the Education Reform Bill a week on Monday and would be happy to see that debate extended, because we understand that the Bill will do a great deal to improve the quality and standard of state education?

Mr. Wakeham

I recognise my hon. Friend's desire to ensure that as many as possible can take part in that debate. I cannot add anything to what I said to the Leader of the Opposition, but I shall consider the matter through the usual channels.

Mr. Andrew Faulds (Warley, East)

A practical point and then a theoretical one. Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that the more malfunctions of the fire warning system within the premises, the less Members are likely to regard those clamant sounds when there is some point in them? We have had two or three malfunctions this week.

The theoretic point. Will the right hon. Gentleman carefully resist the enticements of even the most charismatic sirens—honourable sirens—within this place on the televising of these proceedings? Will he accept that the elder statesmen, who have been here for somewhat longer than our younger colleagues, know the dangers of the provision of television cameras within this Chamber, because not only will it lead to even worse behaviour on the part of some of my colleagues, but it may also lead to worse behaviour within some of the Galleries where other people will want to show off for the cameras?

Mr. Tony Banks

My hon. Friend will get a walk-on part.

Mr. Faulds

I shall be one of the stars and my hon. Friend will be a walk-on.

Mr. Wakeham

The answer to the hon. Gentleman's practical point is yes, Sir. His point is right and I shall look into it and see that we try not to have too many of the things about which he complains.

On the televising of Parliament, I have my own views, but I take my responsibilities as Leader of the House carefully and seriously. The right thing to do is to have a debate. I know how persuasive the hon. Gentleman is in debate; if he finds one or two other people to put the argument his way we shall have an interesting day's debate, and I have no doubt that the result will be close.

Mr. Michael Fallon (Darlington)

Does my right hon. Friend recall that three Labour Members are paid ministerial salaries but are not directly accountable through questioning to hon. Members — the Leader of the Opposition and his Chief Whip and Deputy Chief Whip? Will he consider widening the scope of Thursday's business from simply the financial assistance provided to political parties to the more general question of the taxpayers' value for money from those office holders?

Mr. Wakeham

My hon. Friend tempts me, but I think that I shall resist that temptation. Some things in life are best done in private, and discussion through the usual channels is one.

Mr. John Garrett (Norwich, South)

I have already mentioned this question to you, Mr. Speaker. Will the Leader of the House arrange for an independent study of the management of the House and its departments? I particularly have in mind the wrangles that have gone on for years over grading, the relationships between departments of the House, the use of space and the style of management, particularly the management of those who work here.

Mr. Wakeham

I know that the hon. Gentleman has considerable experience in these matters, but I have recently come into a job that gives me some responsibility for and insight into such matters, and my first impression is to be impressed at the amount of progress that has been made in recent years. However, if the hon. Gentleman would like to have a talk with me about it, I should be interested to hear his views.

Mr. Robert Key (Salisbury)

As it is nearly two years since the House had the opportunity to debate AIDS, since rapid progress is being made in that area, since the Government are hosting a conference of all Health Ministers early in the New Year, and in view of the great public concern about the protection of workers in the Health Service and other health areas, and the responsibility of those working in them who have the misfortune to have contracted the virus, may we have a debate at the earliest opportunity?

Mr. Wakeham

It is an extremely important subject and one which the House has debated in the not too distant past. I am sure that we shall come back to it again. I cannot promise my hon. Friend a debate in the near future, although, subject to your ruling, Mr. Speaker, some of the points that he might wish to make might be relevant to the debate on the Health Service next week.

Mr. Harry Ewing (Falkirk, East)

Did the Leader of the House see last week the photographs of the Secretary of State for Defence dressed in full military uniform, with beret and regimental badge, attending the exercise in the south-west of Scotland? Will the Leader of the House come to the House next week and advise us whether it is now the intention that Ministers should dress in uniform — the Secretary of State for Transport as a lollipop man, the Home Secretary as a policeman and the Secretary of State for Scotland as a demolition contractor because of the job that he is doing on all the Scottish services?

Mr. Wakeham

I have a feeling that the hon. Gentleman is jealous because my right hon. Friend looked rather fine in his uniform.

Mr. Richard Holt (Langbaurgh)

If my right hon. Friend can find time for the debate on televising the House, will he recognise that the public outside are not as concerned about the televising of this establishment, as they are about crime? When shall we have a debate on the restoration of capital punishment?

Mr. Wakeham

I cannot add anything more to what I have said about the debate on televising the House. I have no doubt that, when the Criminal Justice Bill comes from the Lords to this House, whatever I might do about it, there will be a debate on that matter.

Mr. David Young (Bolton, South-East)

I know how difficult it is for you to fix a date for a debate on the poll tax because of the Government's arguments about the matter, but will you please——

Mr. Speaker

Order. I would have no difficulty.

Mr. Young

In the interest of truth, can the Leader of the House give us a definitive debate by next week? Many of my constituents are extremely worried about the fictitious estimates of payments placed in the papers yesterday. They would like a debate, and to know when it is to take place, as soon as possible. May I have the assurance, please, that it will be announced by next week, if not today?

Mr. Wakeham

I am delighted to know of the enthusiasm that there is on both sides of the House to get on with this matter. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that, as soon as I am in a position to announce such a debate, I shall do so, and it will be before too long.

Mr. Ivor Stanbrook (Orpington)

May we have a statement on the extent to which the Upper Waiting Hall and the refreshment facilities of the House are being used by firms to promote their own commercial interests? Not a day passes without hon. Members receiving invitations, sometimes signed by their own colleagues, but often signed by research assistants and others who purport to act on behalf of their colleagues, inviting them to functions in the House to suit a commercial interest that is not related to the constituency interests of the Members concerned, or, indeed, to any desirable parliamentary object. Is it not right that Members' own use of the facilities of the House for constituency and parliamentary purposes should be made a priority and that commercial interests should take a back seat?

Mr. Wakeham

My experience of visiting such exhibitions is not complete. I do not think that I have seen all of them. I have found some of them interesting and some less so. I shall consider whether the arrangements made are satisfactory and I shall find a way of communicating with my hon. Friend.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. The House knows that I am always reluctant to curtail business questions. I shall call those hon. Members who have been rising, but I draw their attention to the fact that there is a statement from the Secretary of State for Scotland and we have a heavy day ahead of us.

Mr. James Lamond (Oldham, Central and Royton)

If the Leader of the House was present at Question Time yesterday, he may have noticed that Foreign Office Ministers were calling on a number of other countries to conform to United Nations' resolutions, yet were trying to brush aside the resolution passed on the Malvinas Islands. Would it not be best for the Leader of the House to try to arrange for someone from the Government to come to the Dispatch Box and clarify that position, lest the Government lay themselves open to accusations of hypocrisy?

Mr. Wakeham

I do not believe that that charge could be levied by any hon. Member, and certainly not by any hon. Member who was in the House yesterday when my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary adequately dealt with those points.

Mr. Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North)

Will the Leader of the House arrange some time next week or soon afterwards for a debate about emergency services in London? While the inquiry into the tragedy at King's Cross is to be welcomed and while tributes should be paid to the police, the fire services and the station staff for all the work that they did, as other hon. Members have said, it is also necessary that there be a full debate on the provision of emergency services as a whole. The London fire brigade gets no Government grant, the health services in London are being continually cut, and the ambulance service is under severe threat. I am sure that the Leader of the House would not want us to go into the winter period with the danger of other accidents, perhaps on the railway system, without a full examination of the need for proper funding of the emergency services throughout London, so that, should another tragedy such as the King's Cross fire occur, at least there will be the infrastructure to deal urgently and immediately with the horrors caused.

Mr. Wakeham

Of course, the subjects that the hon. Gentleman raises are perfectly proper subjects for a debate. However, I do not believe that I can add to what I said to his hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) about a debate in the immediate future.

Mr. Neil Thorne (Ilford, South)

Following the tragedy yesterday at King's Cross and the tributes that have rightly been paid to the emergency services, will my right hon. Friend reconsider the decision that he has just given to the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn)? It is important that the emergency services should have experience in dealing with those matters. My right hon. Friend will remember that there were tragedies at Moorgate and at Oxford Circus before the fire at King's Cross. Does he agree that, despite the magnificent work of the emergency services, quite clearly they need every possible opportunity to practice their skills, backed up by the civil protection organisation?

Mr. Wakeham

I certainly take note of my hon. Friend's view and I know of his great experience with part of the voluntary services. It is a matter that we must consider again, but I do not believe that I can offer a debate immediately.

Mr. Greville Janner (Leicester, West)

Following the tragic death of my constituent, Billy Walker, who swallowed the top of a Bic pen, and as several other children have died in the same way, may we have a debate on how that sort of apparently unnecessary tragedy can be avoided and on whether the design of pens should not be subjected to some form of governmental approval? As the appropriate executive at Bic has persistently refused to speak to me on the matter, and has avoided doing so, which is a callous and wicked disregard for the misery suffered by the family, friends and school of the child, is it not all the more important that the matter should be ventilated in the House and in public?

Mr. Wakeham

I must say that, if the executive of Bic thought that he would not get it ventilated by refusing to speak to the hon. and learned Gentleman he does not know the hon. and learned Gentleman very well. That being said, I recognise that it is a serious matter and that it is a proper concern that he has for his constituent. I cannot promise a debate in the immediate future but it is something that we will have to bear in mind.

Mr. Harry Cohen (Leyton)

May I again press the Leader of the House for a full and immediate debate., on the deteriorating standards of London Regional Transport, especially in the light of the King's Cross disaster? As well as expressing sympathy to the relatives of the victims and paying tribute to the emergency services, some hon. Members want to put the case that the rundown in stations and in the infrastructure of LRT has been far greater than the patching-up investment by the Government, and that the staffing cuts have played fast and loose with safety at hundreds of stations in the London area. The King's Cross disaster is a prima facie case of criminal negligence by the board of LRT and the Government. Can we have a debate to prove that?

Mr. Wakeham

To put the case in such an exaggerated form does not encourage me to change my mind immediately. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport in his statement made it abundantly clear that safety is the prime consideration of all the railway networks. They have a very high record of safety. The matters are important and we will have to find time for a debate at some time, but I cannot promise one immediately.

Mr. Andrew F. Bennett (Denton and Reddish)

Will the Leader of the House reconsider his decision to allocate only one day to the Education Reform Bill? Does he recall that in the summer Ministers were talking about two Bills —one to deal with schools and one to deal with higher and further education? If the two Bills had proceeded, there would have been two days of debate. If he really wants an ordered debate, would it not be far better to allocate one day to deal with the destruction of the schools that the Government are proposing and a second day to deal with the destruction of further and higher education?

Mr. Wakeham

I am not likely to be more forthcoming to the hon. Gentleman than I have been to the Leader of the Opposition. There is a matter of principle. I gave an undertaking to the Leader of the Opposition ——

Mr. Kinnock

I do not mind if the right hon. Gentleman goes further with my hon. Friend.

Mr. Wakeham

That is to protect myself, not the right hon. Gentleman. I gave the right hon. Gentleman an undertaking that I would look at the matter again. I did not indicate that I thought it very likely that we could have two days, but that we might be able to extend the one day to a later hour.

Mr. Nigel Griffiths (Edinburgh, South)

May we have an early debate on the disgraceful refusal by the Secretary of State for Scotland to reappoint Mr. Ted Matthews of the Edinburgh council of social service to the Lothian health board, which is now sadly under-represented by the voluntary and charitable sectors that play such a vital role at a time of shameful cuts? Will the Leader of the House ask the Secretary of State for Scotland to make a statement on that?

Mr. Wakeham

My right hon. and learned Friend has no doubt heard what the hon. Gentleman has said would not like to encourage the hon. Gentleman to think that there will be a debate, but I will certainly refer the matter to my right hon. and learned Friend.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

Has the Leader of the House reflected on early-day motions 228, 253, 272, 273 and 286? With his considerable personal knowledge of the matter, is not the best way to settle it to announce next week an inquiry and to have before the inquiry on oath Mr. T. P. Abraham, Sir Robert Armstrong, Miss Collette Bowe, Sir Brian Hayes, Mr. Richard Mottram, Mr. John Mogg, Mr. John Michel, Mr. Bernard Ingham, Mr. Charles Powell and Sir Clive Whitmore?

[That this House notes in the book, Campaign, by Rodney Tyler, the Selling of the Prime Minister: from behind the doors of Downing Street and Conservative Central Office—A unique inside account of the Battle for Power that the author on page 1, chapter 1, paragraph 1, sentence 1, states 'It was an extraordinary turnaround in fortunes from the moment on 27th January 1986 when Mrs Thatcher secretly confided to a close associate that she might have to resign. … ' and on page 3 that 'On the eve of the crucial Westland debate she herself felt shaky enough to doubt her future' though some around her later sought to dismiss this as late evening anxieties of the sort that had disappeared the following morning). It is certainly true that if Leon Brittan had chosen to, he could have brought her to the brink of downfall, by naming the real culprits inside Number 10. Instead, he chose to remain silent', and calls on the Prime Minister to give a full account of what transpired between 3rd January and 27th January 1986, at Number 10 Downing Street, in relation to the selectively leaked Law Officer's letter concerning the Westland Affair.]

[That this House notes that the Member for Aldershot on page 136 of his book Heseltine: the unauthorised Biography, states in relation to the Westland Affair that 'John Wakeham issued an order of the day which contained the trite, if effective message, that it was time for all good men to come to the aid of the party. We did and calls on the Leader of the House, the Right Honourable Member for South Colchester and Maldon, to explain when he first knew the role of the then Trade and Industry Secretary, the Right Honourable Member for Richmond, Yorks, in the matter of the disclosure of a selectively leaked Law Officer's letter.]

[That this House notes that in his book Mrs Thatcher's Revolution, published this week by Jonathan Cape and Co., Mr Peter Jenkins writes, on page 200 'Brittan himself refused to enlighten the Select Committee on any point of substance. However, he is reputed to have told close friends subsequently that not only has she known perfectly well what had happened but that, on the day following the leak, had expressed her satisfaction to him at the way things had been handled. However at that time, the downfall of Heseltine had not been achieved. … He (Mr Brittan) might point the finger at her (Mrs Thatcher). Potentially he now had the power to destroy her'; and calls on the Prime Minister to give the House a full account of her conversations with the then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, the Right honourable Member for Richmond, Yorks, over the period from 3rd January and 27th January 1986, in relation to the selectively leaked Law Officer's letter concerning the Westland Affair.]

[That this House notes that in The Thatcher Years—A decade of Revolution in British Politics, published by BBC Books, Mr John Cole, on page 170, considering the selectively leaked Law Officer's letter in the Westland Affair, writes 'why did he ( Sir Robert Armstrong) not give her a quick interim report when he discovered that the leak was an inside job, authorised by her office? Why did Leon Brittan not tell her? Or the private secretary concerned? Or his chief, who sits in the same room? Or her press secretary? And why did she never ask?'; and calls on the Prime Minister to inform the House of the answers to these questions.]

[That this House notes that, in the book 'Not with Honour — The Inside Story of the Westland Scandal', on page 142, Magnus Linklater and David Leigh write that 'Instead, following Havers's complaint, she spoke privately to Brittan about the leak. Although this is something the Prime Minister has failed to disclose, to widespread disbelief, the evidence comes from an authoritative source, who told us: "The Prime Minister knew about the leak. She was pleased it had been done. There was a meeting between Brittan and her after the complaint from Mayhew. Only the two of them were present … Brittan assumed she knew of [the leak's] origins. You must draw your own conclusions." One of Brittan's friends adds, "Nobody thought it was a problem. The complaints were out of the public domain and any inquiry was expected to be a formality. Leon wasn't worried at all about it." ; and calls on the Prime Minister to give a full account to the House of the meeting between herself and the Right honourable Member for Richmond, Yorks, referred to therein.]

Mr. Wakeham

As the hon. Gentleman knows full well, I have no intention of adding to the full statements and replies that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has made.

Mr. Graham Allen (Nottingham, North)

Will the Leader of the House cease the constitutional outrage and insult to parliamentary democracy in failing to bring forward the orders necessary to reconstitute the Select Committees, and will he do that either in whole or in part in the near future? So that that does not recur, will he consider re-instituting the Select Committee on Procedure so that the whole matter of how Select Committees are constituted and perform their duties can be re-examined and a decision made by the House rather than by the representatives of the Government and the shadow Government?

Mr. Wakeham

I think that it is the hon. Gentleman who is making a constitutional outrage by seeking to ask me to do things that are not in accordance with the rules of the House. I am sticking strictly to the rules of the House. The question of Select Committees is a matter of some concern. I am happy to tell the House that the Committee of Selection made certain changes and additions to the names originally nominated for Departmental Select Committees. Those are now on the Order Paper and will appear above the line early next week. If they are not objected to, the Select Committees will be able to start work immediately. If they are objected to, I will provide time for the Chairman of the Committee of Selection to put the matter to the House for resolution and will announce a debate in my business statement next Thursday.

Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)

Can the Leader of the House discover whether it is the Home Secretary's intention to make a statement before the Christmas recess about what the Government intend to do about those people living here who have been accused of serious Nazi wartime crimes against humanity? Later today the distinguished French citizen, Beate Klarsfeld, who has done so much to help bring Nazi criminals to justice, will speak to an all-party group of MPs. Therefore, can the Leader of the House also find out whether she will be meeting the Home Secretary at some stage?

Mr. Wakeham

On the main part of the hon. Gentleman's question, I have nothing to add to the answer that I gave last week or the week before. However, I shall refer the points that he has raised to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.

Mr. Roland Boyes (Houghton and Washington)

Has the Leader of the House had an opportunity to read the extensive coverage in the Daily Mirror of the ludicrous decision of the Football Association to sell the FA Cup — the most prestigious and famous football trophy in the world — to a brewery? That is especially unacceptable, since a major cause of football hooliganism and the ban on English football clubs in Europe is drunken slobs who have no interest in the game. Will the Leader of the House make arrangements for the Minister for Sport to come to the Dispatch Box to hear the opinion of the House on this serious matter?

Mr. Wakeham

I have not read the Daily Mirror but I know the substance of the matter that the hon. Gentleman has raised and I shall refer it to my hon. Friend the Minister for Sport.

Mr. Brian Wilson (Cunninghame, North)

Will the Leader of the House consider the possibility of a debate on the decline in the Merchant Navy? I understand that the number of ships flying the red ensign has now plummeted to the 300 mark. That was highlighted in south-west Scotland during the past few days when it was necessary to hire £6 million-worth of ships to conduct a military exercise. As it might not be possible to contact shipbroking companies in the event of a national crisis, might it not be a good idea to consider the strategic implications of the slaughter of the Merchant Navy, as well as its civil implications? I know that a Merchant Shipping Bill is due and I am interested in its timetabling, but as it has tragically failed to address the problem of the decline in the Merchant Navy, I believe that a major debate is also necessary.

Mr. Wakeham

I recognise that this is an important issue. There is a Merchant Shipping Bill which will enable the hon. Gentleman to make his points if we cannot find time for a separate debate. Speaking from memory, I do not believe that his analysis of the recent NATO exercise squares with the facts. As I understand it, the difficulty was not the inability of British ships to take part, but the price that they wanted to charge for their services.