HC Deb 16 June 1988 vol 135 cc592-606 4.57 pm
The Lord President of the Council 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 20 JUNE—Completion of remaining stages of the Criminal Justice Bill [Lords].

Motion relating to the Wireless Telegraphy (Broadcast Licence Charges and Exemption) (Amendment No 2) Regulations.

TUESDAY 21 JuNE—Remaining stages of the School Boards (Scotland) Bill.

Motion on financial assistance to Opposition parties.

WEDNESDAY 22 JUNE—Opposition Day (14th Allotted Day). There will be a debate on an Opposition motion entitled "Chaos in the Government's Housing and Planning Policies".

Motion to take note of EC document on European Community telecommunications policy. Details will be given in the Official Report.

The Chairman of Ways and Means has named opposed private business for consideration at seven o'clock.

THURSDAY 23 JUNE—Opposition Day (15th Allotted Day). There will be a debate on an Opposition motion entitled "Deprivation and Disadvantage in Wales".

Motions on the Building Societies (Commercial Assets and Services) and (Limits on Commercial Assets) Orders.

The Chairman of Ways and Means has named opposed private business for consideration at seven o'clock.

FRIDAY 24 JuNE—There will be a debate on policing in London on a motion for the Adjourment of the House.

MONDAY 27 JUNE—Timetable motion on the Housing Bill.

Motion on the Sex Discrimination (Northern Ireland) Order.

Motion on the Church of England (Ecumenical Relations) Measure.

[Debate on Wednesday 22 June 1988

Relevant European Community document:

4634/88 Telecommunications services and equipment

Relevant Report of European Legislation Committee: HC 43-xx (1987–88) para 2]

Mr. Frank Dobson (Holborn and St. Pancras)

I thank the Leader of the House for his statement.

I repeat my question of last week: when are we likely to have the oft-promised debate on foreign affairs? Also, further to the question that I put to the right hon. Gentleman last week, can he tell us when we can expect to consider the Procedure Committee's proposals on short speeches?

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that last Thursday both my hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith (Mr. Soley) and I asked for more time to consider and debate the Housing Bill? Why did he and his colleagues insist on trying to rush it through this week? Apparently it is not so urgent, because it is not now included in the business for next week.

The right hon. Gentleman asserted at the end of the debate on the Housing Bill yesterday that the official Opposition had done a deal to help the Government get the Bill through, and had gone back on that deal. Will he, on reflection, confirm that such allegations are unfounded? Does he not, on reflection, consider that if the Government want to make such allegations in future, it would be better if the several people making the allegations made the same ones about the same time for a finish and about the same people, rather than different ones about different people and a different finish time, if only on the grounds that it would carry a little more conviction?

Is it not time that the Leader of the House recognised that the Government's business is in a mess and that there is no one to blame for it but himself and his right hon. and hon. Friends who introduced this ridiculous Housing Bill in the first place?

Before we debate the motion on financial assistance to Opposition parties on Tuesday of next week, will the Leader of the House clarify exactly what he was threatening yesterday about money for Opposition parties to my right hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley) and, both before and after that, through leaks to the press? If he now complains that he was not making threats about the funding of Opposition parties, why did he raise the subject at all, particularly as he had previously promised the Leader of the Opposition that he would help to get that motion through?

Is it not shameful that a Government with a majority of 140 over the Labour party should behave in this shoddy and unprincipled way, which is more characteristic of a banana republic? Or has Al Capone taken over from Pontius Pilate as the role model for the Prime Minister?

Finally, will the Leader of the House, before next week, still the rumours that the Government intend going even further with their threats and that, if we field a candidate in the Kensington by-election, they will vote against the Short money?

Mr. Wakeham

I shall treat that last question with the contempt that it deserves.

The hon. Gentleman asked about a foreign affairs debate. I had indicated that I was hoping to arrange a debate in the near future, and I confirm that that is the position.

With regard to the Procedure Committee report on short speeches, I very much regret that I have not been able to bring the necessary motion before the House. Most hon. Members will recognise that we have had some difficulties, which has meant that it has not been easy to find time for that debate.

With regard to the Housing Bill, I made a carefully considered statement in the House yesterday. I stand by every word that I said and I have nothing more to say until we debate the timetable motion. I shall be very happy to debate the issue with the hon. Gentleman at that time.

I told the hon. Gentleman last week that I had hoped to say something about the Short money in my next business statement. As I have announced, the debate will take place on Tuesday 21 June.

On the question of allegations in the press about a conversation with the right hon. Member for Birmingham, Sparkbrook (Mr. Hattersley), I do not accept for one moment the interpretation that has been placed on what is clearly a one-sided and grossly misleading account. My position is clear. I stand by the proposals that I set out in a written answer on 24 May. I made no threats with regard to financial aid to Opposition parties. I said that in categorical terms to the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook at the time and I trust that on reflection his recollection of the conversation will bear that out.

What I said to the right hon. Gentleman—[Interruption.] If the right hon. Gentleman is not frightened to hear the truth, he had better keep quiet. What I said at that meeting was that the task of getting the motion through the House could be made more difficult by the events of yesterday, and I had previously discussed my concern over this matter with the Leader of the Opposition. If hon. Members look back at the proceedings on the Short money debates, they will see that there have been difficulties in the past.

Sir David Price (Eastleigh)

May we turn from human frailty to animal disease? Will my right hon. Friend give time this coming week to debate the BSE order—the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy Order—which was tabled by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on 14 June, a copy of which is not yet available in the Vote Office and which comes into effect, so I am told, on 21 June? This has major effects on diseased animals going into the food chain and should, I believe, be dealt with as a matter of urgency this coming week.

Mr. Wakeham

I will certainly look into the question whether the order should be in the Vote Office and will see what I can sort out about that. I am sorry not to be able to oblige my hon. Friend, as I should very much like to do, by arranging a debate on the subject next week.

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

Is the Leader of the House aware that there is growing certainty of a link between radiation and leukaemia, as shown by the official report on nuclear test veterans and the findings of the Government inquiry concerning the Dounreay nuclear power station? The Government have now announced that they do not intend to set up a compensation fund for the people who have been damaged. May we debate next week that disgraceful decision by the Government?

Mr. Wakeham

I recognise the concern with which the right hon. Gentleman has raised these matters several times in the House. I have said previously that there must be time for consideration of the recent report. The Government have accepted the report and are now considering how best to implement its recommendations. The report identifies a number of possible explanations for the increased incidence of leukaemia near Dounreay, but does not point to any one in particular, so further investigation is required before any meaningful debate can take place.

Mr. Eric Forth (Mid-Worcestershire)

Can my right hon. Friend confirm that the order on financial assistance to Opposition parties is amendable and debatable? Does he agree that the taxpayer would demand that the House should provide financial assistance to Opposition parties in direct proportion to the extent to which those parties abuse the time of the House, abuse, therefore, the taxpayer, and abuse their general privileges? Does he further agree——

Mr. Speaker

Order. If there is a debate, the hon. Gentleman may be able to make the point. It is legitimate to ask whether the motion is amendable.

Mr. Forth

Does my right hon. Friend agree that any amendment—if he says that that is possible—would reflect the probity of the Opposition Chief Whip in the amount of money that the Labour party gets?

Mr. Wakeham

I hope to table the motion for debate later today. My understanding is that it will be amendable, but whether any amendments are acceptable and are called will be a matter for you, Mr. Speaker. I have to disappoint my hon. Friend. It is a Government motion and I shall be voting for it.

Mr. Brian Sedgemore (Hackney, South and Shoreditch)

Is the Leader of the House aware that when I met Sir Peter Imbert, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, this morning I had to report that Her Majesty's loyal Opposition had been the victim of the crime of attempted blackmail yesterday and that the principal suspects were the Prime Minister, the Patronage Secretary and the Leader of the House himself? Will the Leader of the House give us an assurance that all three suspects will co-operate with the police in their inquiries?

Mr. Wakeham

I am surprised that the commissioner did not arrest the hon. Gentleman for giving misleading information to the police.

Mr. Jacques Arnold (Gravesham)

Has my right hon. Friend noted early-day motion 1228 in the names of three Militant readers and 15 other rising members of the Labour party, which calls for the judicial rehabilitation of Bukharin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Radek and Pyatakov, … Leon Trotsky, Leon Sedov"? [That this House, in the light of the special conference of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in one week's time, and of the judicial rehabilitation of Bukharin, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Radek and Pyatakov, demands that the Russian Government goes further and gives complete rehabilitation to Leon Trotsky, Leon Sedov the chief defendants in the Moscow frame-up trials, and all those innocent people murdered by the Stalin regime.] Does my right hon. Friend consider it relevant to arrange a debate on a matter so important to the future of the British people?

Mr. Wakeham

I regret that I shall not be able to find time for a debate on that subject in the near future. The Government understand the views expressed in the motion. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has repeatedly made clear, we welcome Mr. Gorbachev's policies of reform, which include a more honest appraisal of Soviet history and Stalin's place in it.

Ms. Marjorie Mowlam (Redcar)

Will the right hon. Gentleman arrange an early debate on city technology colleges, particularly as the Secretary of State is in Teesside today announcing such a college for Teesside, where £4.5 million of Government money is to be spent on one CTC compared with £3.6 million for capital improvements for the 238 schools in the rest of Cleveland?

Mr. Wakeham

I recognise that it is an important subject. I should like to find time for a debate, but I cannot promise it in the near future.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May we have a ring constructed here?

Mr. Speaker

This is a ring.

Mr. Teddy Taylor (Southend, East)

The European Court of Justice is to announce on Tuesday, 21 June its decision on whether the Government should be obliged to levy VAT on electricity, gas, water and sewerage for industry and commerce and for all new industrial and commercial buildings. Can my right hon. Friend say whether there will be a Government statement, in view of the importance of this issue to the constitution and to the Budget deficit?

Mr. Wakeham

I recognise my hon. Friend's concern. I must wait until I have seen the judgment. I shall then see my right hon. Friend and find out whether he thinks a statement would be appropriate.

Mr. Ernie Ross (Dundee, West)

Can the Leader of the House tell us when the Chairman of the Committee of Selection will be in a position to add the names of Conservative Members to the names already on the Order Paper for the Scottish Select Committee? If he cannot tell us when his hon. Friend will be in a position to do that, can he arrange for a debate on the failure to have a Scottish Select Committee? Would he be prepared to give money to those Opposition Members who are willing to form a Select Committee in the absence of one appointed by the House?

Mr. Wakeham

I cannot be forthcoming on the last part of the hon. Gentleman's question. With regard to the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs, regrettably the proposal that I put to the Opposition parties for the establishment of the Select Committee did not prove acceptable to them. I hope to see the Chairman of the Committee of Selection shortly to discuss this. It would be helpful to have the discussion before deciding how best to proceed. I can confirm that there will be an opportunity for a debate on the setting up of the Committee.

Mr. Spencer Batiste (Elmet)

My right hon. Friend will recall that, on the occasion of the last perturbation in the smooth running of the usual channels, 1 invited him to extend the timetabling procedure to major Bills. He said then that he would prefer to soldier on with the present system. As the present system seems to have foundered because Opposition Front-Bench spokesmen cannot deliver a deal, even if they want to do so, will my right hon. Friend confirm that the debate that he has listed for Monday week on timetabling can be extended to cover other business of the House should the need arise?

Mr. Wakeham

The usual channels existed long before my hon. Friend and I came into the House, and I suspect that they will exist long after we have gone into history. They go through difficult stages from time to time. The best that all men of good will can do is try to sort them out.

Mr. Skinner

Is the Leader of the House aware that this is not the first time that threats and blackmail have been used about the Short money, as happened yesterday when he and others were using such threats? Is he aware that on the night the Firearms Bill went through, which the Government had guillotined and on which some of us played a part in forcing 100-odd Tory Members to stay so that the Government would get the Bill, in front of witnesses one of his mates told our people in the Whips Office that if they did not call off their rebellion——

Mr. Speaker

Order. The question is supposed to be about the business for next week.

Mr. Skinner

We want to debate the whole issue of blackmail.

Is the Leader of the House aware that the Whips were threatened to keep out of the Chamber because we were forcing the Government to do their job properly? It is high time the Government stopped the blackmail. They have blackmailed the nation and they must stop doing it here.

Mr. Wakeham

As yesterday's example of the evil to which the hon. Gentleman refers was a completely wrong analysis of the position, with absolutely untrue allegations being made, I believe that the other one is just as likely to be wrong, and I shall not pursue the matter further with the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Robert Adley (Christchurch)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that on Bastille day the Secretary of State for Transport will be publishing a report presented to him by British Rail about the need for improved rail links to the Channel tunnel? Is he further aware that this has wide implications for public transport policy in and around London and far beyond to the regions? In view of the increasing interest in the subject, will he please arrange a debate on the report as soon as it is available?

Mr. Wakeham

I recognise that it is an important subject and will be an important part of the success of the Channel tunnel. I shall refer the matter to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to decide how best to proceed.

Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)

May we have a debate next week on the state of relations between the business managers of both parties? May I tell the Leader of the House that before he moved the Adjournment motion yesterday I was approached by a Tory Whip and was discreetly threatened, as a Labour Whip on the Housing Bill, that if we did not finish, all the things that we subsequently heard about Short money and the guillotining of future legislation would probably happen? I was also told that assurances had been given in writing. The Leader of the House has been gravely misled by the Chief Whip of his party. If there is evidence in writing, he should put up or shut up.

Mr. Wakeham

The hon. Gentleman bobs in and out of his Whips Office so fast that I cannot be sure whether he is a Whip at the moment. I do not recognise him as an accurate analyst of the situation.

Mr. Edward Leigh (Gainsborough and Horncastle)

May we have a debate soon on Church relations, so that light may be thrown on the way in which the Archbishop of Canterbury, so much the leader of the Church militant when criticising Government measures, appears to be the head of the Church supine when visiting Moscow this week, having refused to meet the courageous Russian Orthodox clergy, who have been persecuted and imprisoned for their beliefs, on the grounds that it might irritate his generous hosts and a complacent hierarchy in the Soviet Union?

Mr. Wakeham

As my hon. Friend will have noted, I have announced a motion on the Church of England (Ecumenical Relations) Measure for debate on Monday 27 June. The Measure regularises relations at a local level between the Church of England and churches of other denominations. I should have thought that my hon. Friend, with his customary skill, would be able to make his points in that debate.

Mr. Michael Welsh (Doncaster, North)

I notice that six hours have been set down for private business next week. I accept that there are many other matters to discuss as well as private business, but is it possible to reduce the time allowed for private business to three hours and have a debate on the Third world during the other three hours? It is a long time since we debated that issue. If the right hon. Gentleman cannot allow that time, will he assure us that we will have a debate on the Third world before the recess starts in August?

Mr. Wakeham

That is a good suggestion, and I wish that I could fit it in. Unfortunately, the time for private business is not in my hands, but is entirely a matter for the Chairman of Ways and Means, who has nominated that business for next week.

Mr. Jonathan Sayeed (Bristol, East)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that Bristol city council is the only local authority that intends to petition against an urban development corporation? This will cost the hard-pressed ratepayers some £140,000, delay the start by up to nine months, deny 5,000 man-years of work to an area of high unemployment, stop 3,000 houses being built and reduce the leisure facilities available in that hard-pressed area. Will my right hon. Friend find time for a debate on this Labour authority, which does little for Bristol and little for the area that I represent?

Mr. Wakeham

My hon. Friend has raised very important issues. I should like to find time for a debate but, unfortunately, I cannot next week. I wonder whether my hon. Friend might like to try his luck with an Adjournment debate.

Mr. Andrew Faulds (Warley, East)

In view of the shambles of the television presentation on Tuesday morning of the types of lighting and cameras that may be introduced, would it not be a wise idea for more hon. Members to see the "plans"—if one can use such a term —for this extraordinary innovation, instead of having them shown just to a few members of the Committee and those of us who thought that we should keep an eye on the proceedings?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that most hon. Members have no idea that there are four lighting options? One, a long green lamp, makes the House look like a fish tank. Another option is to close off daylight permanently from the House, so there would be bricked up windows with lights behind them. The third and fourth options are lights so intense that many of us who looked across the chamber from the Back Bench saw only an orange blur —[Interruption.]There were some less attractive colours as well. There was extreme reluctance to show how far the cameras would hang down. Those of us who volunteered to stand and demonstrate with the mock-ups were not allowed to do so.

I am serious about this matter. It will be an outrage if these things are put up without most hon. Members knowing the implications. It is essential that this matter be debated. Finally, Mr. Speaker——

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member has had a long run.

Mr. Faulds

It is a very important matter.

Mr. Speaker

One short sentence, then.

Mr. Faulds

One short sentence. As an example of how the Chamber will be treated by the television cameras, did the Leader of the House last night see "Newsnight", in which 29 hours of serious debate, with some excellent contributions by my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks)——

Mr. Speaker

Order. These matters would be best raised in a debate. That is more than one short sentence. I have been very generous.

Mr. FauIds

You will be the sufferer, Sir.

Mr. Wakeham

At the demonstration in the morning, I took it that the hon. Gentleman said that his difficulties with his sight and other physical problems were a result of advancing years. I do not accept for one moment that the demonstration was a shambles, but I recognise that the hon. Member contributed to efforts in that direction throughout most of the proceedings. I do not think that he succeeded.

I thought that the demonstration, which had been advertised in the all-party Whip and announced in the House in response to a question to me by the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson), was, in spite of the hon. Gentleman's efforts, a reasonable success in giving the Select Committee some view of the alternatives. The Select Committee will discharge the obligation put upon it by the House of Commons and will produce a report, which it will be for the House of Commons to consider.

Rev. Ian Paisley (Antrim, North)

I do not mind being an Orange blob on this side of the Chamber.

Last week I raised a serious matter about a debate on security in Northern Ireland. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman, with his experience, will agree that a statement is not adequate to deal with this important matter. There is grave alarm in the Province that representatives have not had an opportunity to put their views to the House. There is more alarm when we see that a man who is charged with the killing of one of the corporals has been given parole, whereas ordinary civilian prisoners cannot get parole on humanitarian grounds. Surely the Leader of the House should seek, at least before the summer recess, to have a debate in the House on this important matter.

Mr. Wakeham

I am grateful to the hon. Member for what he said about me personally and I recognise the strong feelings on the need for a debate. I thought that you were generous, Mr. Speaker, in the time that you allowed for the statement. I appreciate that that is not a substitute for a debate. I cannot promise an early debate, but I shall bear the hon. Member's strong representations in mind.

Mr. Frank Haynes (Ashfield)

Will the Leader of the House seriously consider having a debate on football hooliganism? We keep getting reports which contain the information that the matter has been discussed at No. 10. They are always discussed at No. 10. What does the Prime Minister know about football? The problem gets worse and worse. We need a debate so that people can express their views, and we might then get somewhere. If we were to involve people such as Brian Clough, who is a disciplinarian on and off the field, we might get somewhere.

Mr. Wakeham

I do not for one minute accept the hon. Gentleman's comment about my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, who is taking these matters extremely seriously and spending much time trying to deal with these difficult problems. I recognise the hon. Gentleman's request for a debate on the subject. I cannot promise him an immediate debate, but I shall certainly bear the matter in mind.

Mr. James Hill (Southampton, Test)

My right hen. Friend will probably have noted that on Monday evening there is to be an Adjournment debate on council estates and security patrols. This was the beginning of the argument that many of these football hooligans learn their basic laws in gangs on council estates. We must examine this matter still further. The Home Office gave me a fairly good reply, and I should have thought that a national policy on security——

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member must ask for a debate, not debate the subject now.

Mr. Hill

I ask my right hon. Friend to look into the proposition that we have a debate on national policy for security, not only on council estates, but on private estates too.

Mr. Wakeham

I recognise my hon. Friend's concern in this matter, and I know that it is shared by a number of our hon. Friends, but I cannot promise him an early debate on the subject.

Mr. Allen McKay (Barnsley, West and Penistone)

Will the Leader of the House consider having a debate on the Channel tunnel proposal as it affects through trains from Europe to the north? As there have been problems with British Rail and Customs and Excise, is it not time that we cleared the matter up, because it is very important to the regeneration and economic well being of the north?

Mr. Wakeham

I recognise that it is an important matter. I have undertaken to refer it to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport, and that is the next stage.

Mr. Chris Mullin (Sunderland, South)

Is the Leader of the House aware that British Shipbuilders is being prevented from bidding for a new order from Cuba—on which the jobs of thousands of my constituents depend —by the Department of Trade and Industry, which has to give its approval to the intervention fund allowance? The deadline expires shortly, after which time the work will go to one of our rivals. Will the right hon. Gentleman therefore ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister of Trade and Industry to make a statement and tell us exactly why he is preventing British Shipbuilders from going ahead with the bid?

Mr. Wakeham

I shall certainly refer the matter to my right hon. and learned Friend, and if he feels that it is appropriate to make a statement or write to the hon. Gentleman, I am sure that he will do so.

Mr. Peter Hardy (Wentworth)

Is the Leader of the House aware that the Prime Minister recently assured us that unemployment in the Dearne valley area of south Yorkshire was falling, when it is not? She also assured us that we were receiving special priority in the urban development programme, when in reality we are getting less than areas with half the unemployment and a third of the population. Is the right hon. Gentleman further aware that the Prime Minister suggested that we were being greatly helped by derelict land grants, when the changes in the arrangements for such grants mean that the outlook is very grim indeed? May we therefore have a debate on the plight of necessitous areas in England, such us ours? I hope that the Prime Minister will condescend to join in a debate on that matter, even though she does not speak on anything else.

Mr. Wakeham

I do not for a moment accept the allegations made by the hon. Gentleman about my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. I am sure the hon. Gentleman will have noted the substantially improved unemployment figures announced today, which should be welcomed by both sides of the House.

Mr. Brian Wilson (Cunninghame, North)

Will the Leader of the House consider having a debate at some time on the abuse of spending public funds on television advertising campaigns run by various Government Departments? Such campaigns are increasingly widely commented upon across the political spectrum as being nothing more than Conservative party advertising in disguise. In particular, will he address himself to reports that the Government are to spend £1 million on television advertising in an attempt to promote the poll tax? Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that that is pure political propaganda rather than a proper use of public funds? Does he agree also that, in the interests of the democratic process, that practice must stop, and will he allow the House to debate it so that we may discuss the concept and the underlying principle?

Mr. Wakeham

There are clear rules about the purposes for which public money can be spent by the Government, and those purposes have to be in support of the laws of the land, not in support of policies before the House. Those rules are scrupulously obeyed by this Government, as I believe they were by previous Governments. I wish that I could say the same about some local authorities.

Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West)

Will the Leader of the House tell us whether the promise to publish a White Paper on the Official Secrets Act this month is to be honoured? If it is, does the right hon. Gentleman agree that its publication would provide a good opportunity for the Prime Minister to do what she likes doing least, making a major speech in the House? Does he also agree that it would provide the right hon. Lady with an opportunity to announce an inquiry into the activities of the security services and to discuss the urgent need for democratic accountability in the security services? She would disappoint the authors of the 10 books that are being written about the security services, but please the taxpayer, if she announced that she has no plans to ban those books.

Mr. Wakeham

I shall not answer the last part of the hon. Gentleman's question. Both the Home Secretary and I have made certain statements at the Dispatch Box about the publication of a White Paper and about a debate, and I stand by those statements.

Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark and Bermondsey)

When considering the proposed guillotine motion on the Housing Bill on Monday week, will the Leader of the House bear in mind that 58 groups of amendments have already been selected, including 73 Government amendments and new clauses? Whatever view the right hon. Gentleman takes of events so far, it is important that parts IV and V of the Bill and the new clauses are given adequate time for debate.

Will he ensure that the Government motion on the air pollution order which we should have debated last night, is reinstated at an early opportunity?

Finally, has the Leader of the House seen early-day motions 1098 and 1201?

[That this House welcomes the recent Law Lords decision in the case of Hayward v. Cammell Laird Shipbuilders Ltd, affirming the principle of equal pay for work of equal value; believes that such victories are important to the creation of a more just and equal society for all people; and further calls upon Her Majesty's Government to act to eliminate sexual discrimination in the workplace.]

[That this House notes with concern the conclusions of the Policy Studies Institute report revealing the barriers to the advancement of women doctors within the medical profession; decries the use of patronage through the old boy network to discriminate against women; agrees that the waste of such talent can only be harmful to the profession and to medical services as a whole; and calls on the Government to act immediately with the profession to stop this discrimination and ensure equal opportunity in the interests of the medical profession and its patients.]

The early-day motions deal with equal opportunities for women and the report of the Equal Opportunities Commission this week showing that the pay of women in Britain is now 26 per cent. behind that of their male colleagues—the highest in 10 years. The figure in Scotland is 28 per cent. May we have an early debate on the poor state of equal opportunities for women in this country?

Mr. Wakeham

I shall announce in due course how we propose to deal with the orders lost last night. I shall table the timetable motion for the Housing Bill as early as I can next week—certainly by the middle of the week. The hon. Gentleman will have to wait until then to find out its terms, but I shall bear in mind his remarks. He must bear in mind the amount of time that we have already spent on the Bill, but I take his point.

The hon. Gentleman asked about equal pay for work of equal value, which is dealt with in early-day motion 1098. The Government monitor closely the work of the Sex Discrimination and Equal Pay Acts to see whether they are working fairly and effectively. We shall continue to do so in the light of the important decision to which the hon. Gentleman referred and other test cases still before the courts.

Mr. Harry Barnes (Derbyshire, North-East)

May we have a debate on the need to supply Government money to electrify British Rail's east midlands line? That is particularly important given the development of the Channel tunnel and the electrification of the east coast route, which will lead to competition with the east midlands area, which could lead to closures in the area and to the economic decline of my constituency and many others.

Mr. Wakeham

As the hon. Gentleman knows, InterCity services do not receive grants, so there is no question of any investment grant. British Rail must decide its own investment priorities. The Government should not ask it to undertake investments against its commercial judgment.

Mr. Greville Janner (Leicester, West)

Will the Leader of the House arrange for a debate on Smith houses, those defective homes built in the 1950s, which councils such as Leicester city council are having to buy back from people who bought them in that defective condition? Leicester city council applied, not for a grant, but to borrow £1.7 million. The Government have provided nothing. They have refused to allow the council any such borrowing, and it is believed to be the only council——

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. and learned Gentleman can deploy that case if there is a debate. Now, he should ask whether there is to be a debate.

Mr. Janner

May I ask when we are to have a debate on this matter, which is worrying many people in many parts of the country?

Mr. Wakeham

I cannot promise a debate, but the hon. and learned Gentleman may note that we have Environment questions on Wednesday. He might question the Secretary of State then if he gets the chance.

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)

Would it be a good idea to have a debate next week on trusting one another in the House? That would enable us to discuss early-day motions 228, 253, 272, 273, 286, 622, 627, 1142 and 1156.

[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 Britian 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 Office'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 'Britian 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 Haver'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 Right honourable Member for Richmond, Yorks, referred to therein.]

[That this House notes that in an article by Mr. Paul Foot in the Daily Mirror, dated 28th January, a Ministry of Defence official, Mr. Paul Newbegin, is quoted as having admitted witnessing the shredding and incinerating of the log book of HMS 'Conqueror'; is concerned that if this statement is true, the Ministry of Defence is guilty of having established an entirely bogus investigation into the disappearance of the log book when the facts of its deliberate destruction were already known; further notes the parallel between this case and that of the leaked Solicitor General's letter in the Westland Affair, when a similar investigation was launched despite the availability in advance of all the salient facts; and calls upon the Secretary of State for Defence to set up an immediate inquiry with the genuine purpose of furnishing Parliament with a full explanation of this bizarre series of events.]

[That this House calls for a debate on the conduct of honourable and right honourable Members of the House, considering the position of back bench members who resort to unparliamentary language and Heads of Government who misuse Law Officer's letters and then display lack of candour about what they have done.]

[That this House notes that the Guardian of Friday 20th May carried an article entitled `Thatcher's boy in a cleft stick', which stated that according to Foreign Office sources 'Mr Charles Powell wants Washington or Paris nothing less, but he's not going to get either of them', and that Mr. Powell had been offered and turned down the post of Ambassador in Stockholm, and that the article added `Powell has another string to his bow: he knows where the bodies are buried in the Westland Affair. He escaped appearing before a Select Committee, but not their sharpest criticism for his orchestrating role in the leaking of a letter from the then Solicitor General, which ultimately resulted in the then Secretary of State for Defence's resignation'; expresses its concern that knowledge of wrong-doing by the Prime Minister is alleged to put Mr. Powell in a position to obtain an Embassy more senior than his status warrants; asserts that this is not in keeping with the high moral ground claimed by the Prime Minister; and calls on Her Majesty's Government to make a statement.]

[That this House calls on Her Majesty's Government to set up an inquiry into the SAS operation in Gibraltar, to address itself to the questions as to whether the Joint Intelligence Staff, through its current intelligence groups, was responsible for preparing assessments of the situation in Spain and Gibraltar prior to the shooting, if so, as to how many assessments were made and on what days, as to whether the Joint Intelligence Committee, in any form, considered these or other assessments or reports on the matter, if so, as to when it did so and whether it was as a full committee, a sub-committee or by the chairman alone, as to to whom advice was offered by the Joint Intelligence Committee, as to whether the Permanent Secretaries' Committee on the Intelligence Services was involved in considering or formulating assessments or advice, and, if so, on what occasions, as to on what occasions advice or assessments were offered to the Prime Minister by the Permanent Secretaries' Committee on the Intelligence Services, the Joint Intelligence Committee, MI5 or Sir Colin Figures, as to who, or which committee, proposed the use of the SAS, as to whether the SAS was ordered to operate in Gibraltar under pre-existing rules of engagements, or as to whether specific Rules of Engagement were drawn up, as to on what occasions, in the 72 hours prior to the shooting, the Prime Minister was appraised of the sequence of events in Gibraltar, and on what occasions, over the same period, she issued instructions or agreed actions in relation to the events, and as to what consultation she undertook with the Overseas Policy and Defence Committee in the Cabinet.]

On the radio this morning—and he has said this in the House—the Leader of the House eloquently declared that it was necessary to have undertakings and understanding for the usual channels to work and that that depended on trust. Is it not perhaps equally true that the work of the House depends on our ability to trust the word of the most senior Ministers? That brings us back to where the rot started——

Mr. Speaker

Order. It does, indeed, bring us back to business questions.

Mr. Wakeham

It seems that I am a trusting person and the hon. Gentleman is not.