§ 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. The business for next week will be as follows:
MONDAY IO APRIL—Conclusion of remaining stages of the Electricity Bill (3rd day).
Motion on the Lord Chancellor's Salary Order.
Motion on the Medicines (Fixing of Fees Relating to Medical Products for Human Use) Order.
TUESDAY II APRIL—Opposition Day (6th Allotted Day). Until about seven o'clock there will be a debate entitled "The Inadequate Uprating of Pensions and Other Benefits". Afterwards there will be a debate entitled "Safety in the Construction Industry". Both debates will arise on Opposition motions.
Motion to take note of EC document on weights and measures. Details will be given in the Official Report.
Motion to take note of EC document on the driving licence. Details will be given in the Official Report.
WEDNESDAY I2 APRIL—Debate on a Government Motion on the Fennell report on the investigation into the King's Cross Underground fire (Cm 499).
Motion relating to National Health Service regulations. Details will be given in the Official Report.
THURSDAY I3 APRIL—Second Reading of the Road Traffic (Driver Licensing and Information Systems) Bill [Lords].
Afterwards Second Reading of the Atomic Energy Bill [Lords].
FRIDAY I4 APRIL—Private Members' Bills.
MONDAY I7 APRIL—Opposition Day (7th Allotted Day). There will be a debate on an Opposition motion, subject for debate to be announced.
§ [First Debate on Tuesday 11 April
|Relevant European Community Document|
|4102/89||Weights and measures|
§ Relevant Reports of European Legislation Committee
§ HC 15-xii (1988–89), para 2 and HC 15-xvii (1988–89), para 1
§ Second Debate on Tuesday 11 April
|Relevant European Community Document|
§ Relevant Report of European Legislation Committee
§ HC 15-xvi (1988–89), para 1
§ Debate on Wednesday 12 April:
§ National Health Service (Optical Charges and Payments) Regulations 1989 (SI 1989 No. 396)
§ National Health Service (Optical Charges and Payments) (Scotland) Regulations 1989 (SI 1989 No. 392)
§ National Health Service (Dental Charges) Regulations 1989 (SI 1989 No. 394)
§ National Health Service (Dental Charges) (Scotland) Regulations 1989 (SI 1989 No. 363)
§ National Health Service (Charges for Drugs and Appliances) Regulations 1989 (SI 1989 No. 419)
§ National Health Service (Charges for Drugs and Appliances) (Scotland) Regulations 1989 (SI 1989 No. 326)
§ National Health Service (General Opthalmic Services) Amendment Regulations 1989 (SI 1989 No. 395)350
§ National Health Service (General Opthalmic Services) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 1989 (SI 1989 No. 387)
§ National Health Service (Travelling Expenses and Remission of Charges) Amendment Regulations 1989 (SI 1989 No. 517)
§ National Health Service (Travelling Expenses and Remission of Charges) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 1989 (SI 1989 No. 393)]
§ Mr. Frank Dobson (Holborn and St. Pancras)
I thank the Leader of the House for his statement.
I shall refer first to the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Hamilton (Mr. Robertson) at Prime Minister's Question Time. Will the Leader of the House make it his business to ensure that the report of the secretary general to the United Nations Security Council is placed in the Library of the House next week, as was promised by the Prime Minister on Tuesday of this week? Will he bear in mind the convention of which he and the right hon. Lady will be aware—that, when Ministers at the Dispatch Box quote from an official document, they should make that document available to everyone else? Documents that Britain receives at the Security Council must fall into that category, especially as it was not simply that the Prime Minister—
§ Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)
The hon. Gentleman did not listen to Prime Minister's Questions.
§ Mr. Dobson
I am talking about the business for next week. Will the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Greenway) contain himself?
§ Mr. Dobson
As the Prime Minister not only mentioned that document, but also told the hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn and Lochaber (Sir R. Johnston) that he could obtain all the details he needed from that document and that it was available, it appears that the burden falls on the Leader of the House to ensure that, in line with the conventions of the House, that document is made available to everyone.
In view of Sir Leon Brittan's recent confirmation of many people's suspicions of the degree of involvement of the Prime Minister's closest advisers in the leaking of the Attorney-General's letter on Westland, will the Leader of the House tell us whether the Prime Minister will come to the House next week to make a statement and to answer further questions on that matter, and especially to clarify once and for all who knew what and when they knew it?
Will the Leader of the House tell us when we can expect the long-promised and the equally long-delayed debate on student loans?
As there is mounting concern throughout the country about the threat that the Government's National Health Service review poses to the health care of most people, will we have an early debate in Government time to give the Secretary of State the opportunity to answer questions in the House rather than spending taxpayers' money roaming around the country on a Tory party political propaganda exercise?
On the subject of the Department of Health, when can we expect a statement on the Government's response to the Griffiths report on care in the community? The 351 Department has had that document in its possession for more than a year and surely it should be moving towards giving us some suggestion of the Government's intentions.
In view of the particularly precipitate way in which the Government have managed to come forward with a Bill to abolish the national dock labour scheme, when will they come forward with the Bill that they have promised and on which civil servants have been working for four years—if parliamentary answers of 1985 were truthful—to outlaw the buying and selling of human organs?
§ Mr. Wakeham
I am grateful to the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) for asking me six questions about the business for next week. I wondered whether he might have found time today just to say "Thank you" to me for having arranged for the debate on the Fennell report, for which he has been pressing me and also for managing to fit in two Opposition days in the business for next week.
§ Mr. Wakeham
If the hon. Gentleman had listened, I announced two full Opposition days in the business statement for next week.
With regard to the United Nations plan and the documents concerned, I told the House yesterday that the relevant documents have been placed in the Library. They include the Geneva protocol, which has been made public by the South African Government. A further set of documents, which together comprise the United Nations plan, will be placed in the Library today. The secretary general has asked, however, that the report on the recent fighting should be kept confidential for the time being. On reflection, I hope that the hon. Gentleman will consider that the right thing would be to respect the request of the secretary general. Obviously I shall look into the matter in view of the question asked, but I cannot promise that anything will be revealed at the present time.
With regard to the recent television coverage of a television programme, which neither you, Mr. Speaker, nor I have seen, I understand that Sir Leon Brittan made certain statements which he suggested did not add anything new to the position. That is as I understand the matter and, therefore, I see no need for any further statement on the position, which has been well ventilated in the past.
The hon. Gentleman knows that consultations are taking place about student loans and I believe that the right time for a debate on that matter would be later rather than at present.
I agree with the hon. Gentleman that there is a need for a National Health Service debate and I agree that it would be right for the Government to find time for that. The exact timing of it is best left for discussion through the usual channels. I also recognise the consistency with which he has pressed me on the Griffiths report. I understand his disappointment that it has taken rather longer to deal with that matter than he wanted. We are giving active consideration to the report and hope to bring forward our proposals in the near future. We recognise the concern that our response should not be unduly delayed, but it is vital that we reach the right solution in this important area.
There has been some discussion between the Government and the hon. Gentleman's Front-Bench colleagues about the abhorrent trade in kidneys. If we are 352 to make progress as fast as we can—both of us are agreed on that, I believe—it is probably best for those discussions to continue through the usual channels.
§ Mr. James Hill (Southampton, Test)
My right hon. Friend will know that, from time to time, I have asked questions regarding a ports policy for the United Kingdom. The statement by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment, who said that the national docks labour scheme is to be reviewed, obviously makes my question about a ports policy null and void. Nevertheless, there is a need not to demoralise the employees of certain ports, because I know that they will put their shoulders behind the new review. The port of Southampton was closed for a whole year in 1981 due to militancy. It is now working well. If we can persuade the Transport and General Workers Union to adopt a reasonable approach, there will be further co-operation. That can only do good to Southampton.
§ Mr. Wakeham
I agree with my hon. Friend. I am grateful to him for his support for the way the Government are approaching the problem. With the inevitability of these matters, there will be plenty of opportunity for my hon. Friend to raise the issue constructively in the debates that we shall have in forthcoming weeks.
§ Mr. James Wallace (Orkney and Shetland)
Will the Leader of the House arrange for a Minister to come to the House next week to explain why those who were demonstrating in Whitehall today against human rights abuses in the Soviet Union were told to take down their placards before Mr. Gorbachev arrived, which seems to be almost a contradiction in human rights terms?
Secondly, given that we will debate the Lord Chancellor's salary next week but that we do not have a Select Committee on the Lord Chancellor's Department or on the Law Officers' Department, will the Leader of the House consider setting up an ad hoc Select Committee with powers to call for witnesses and papers to look into the Government's proposals for the reform of the legal profession?
Finally, when did the Prime Minister find out that the United Nations secretary general wished the report on the Namibian incidents to be kept confidential?
§ Mr. Wakeham
I am not in a position to answer the question about the placards in Whitehall, but I shall make inquiries and see that the appropriate answer is given to the hon. Gentleman.
I do not propose to set up a special Select Committee to deal with our law proposals. I believe that the right procedure is that which the Government have adopted, which is to issue Green Papers for discussion. We hope to get as many constructive views as we can. Then the Government will have to make up their mind how best to act.
I cannot answer the hon. Gentleman's third question, but it was certainly not until after my right hon. Friend had said what she did in the House.
§ Mr. Henry Bellingham (Norfolk, North-West)
Can the Leader of the House tell us when the Second Reading of the Bill on the dock labour scheme is likely to take place? Is he aware that today's announcement will be warmly welcomed by the vast majority of people connected with and working in King's Lynn docks, who realise that the 353 abolition of the scheme will lead to more jobs? It will also lead to much more cargo being handled at King's Lynn and will enable it to compete with non-scheme ports in East Anglia.
§ Mr. Wakeham
I welcome what my hon. Friend has said. The Bill will be introduced tomorrow and the House will have an opportunity to debate it in the usual way, subject to the usual conventions. I hope to make a business statement including the Second Reading of the Bill in the not-too-distant future.
§ Mr. Max Madden (Bradford, West)
May I draw the attention of the Leader of the House to two early-day motions standing in my name, numbers 672 and 673, concerning freemasonry?
[That this House notes, as reported in the book, Inside the Brotherhood by Martin Short, that most Right honourable and honourable Members who completed a questionnaire issued by Mr. Short in 1986 said that councillors, local government officers, civil servants, policemen, judges and honourable Members should be required to disclose Masonic membership; therefore urges the Select Committee on Members' Interests to make necessary arrangements for appropriate resolutions to be considered by the House to require Right honourable and honourable Members to disclose Masonic membership in the Register of Members' Interest; further urges Parliamentary journalists who are Masons to be required to make an appropriate declaration; and finally urges the appointment of an Ombudsman to whom public servants, including police officers, can make complaints of discrimination in public employment.
That this House congratulates Martin Short on the publication of his book, Inside the Brotherhood; notes that the honourable Members for Ilford South, Croydon South, Chichester, Erewash, Banbury and Belfast North told Mr. Short they were Masons; further notes that Mr. Short believes that the honourable Members for Bury South, Reading East and Keighley are Masons; and finally notes Mr. Short reveals the Masonic Lodge to which Right honourable and honourable Members, Parliamentary Officers and staff belong is called the New Welcome Lodge (5139 ) which was consecrated in 1929 and meets five times a year at Freemason's Hall in London, and that Parliamentary Journalists who are Mason's belong to the Gallery Lodge (1928).]
May I unusually ask the Leader of the House himself to make a statement next week in view of the support of more than 200 hon. Members from all parties for the proposal that hon. Members who are masons should be required to declare their masonic membership in the Register of Members' Interests? Will the Leader of the House next week ask the Select Committee on Members' Interests to consider the matter urgently so that the necessary motions may be brought to the House?
§ Mr. Wakeham
As I told the hon. Gentleman in answer to a written question on 3 March 1988:Any consideration of changes in the scope of the Register of Members' Interests or the Register of Parliamentary Journalists would, in the first instance, be a matter for the Select Committee on Members' Interests."—[Official Report, 3 March 1988; Vol. 128, c. 638.]That is where he should pursue the matter.
§ Mr. Michael Latham (Rutland and Melton)
Will my right hon. Friend ensure that the debate on the Health Service that he has promised takes place at an early date and allows us to discuss the proposed contract for general practitioners? I think that he will have noticed that it has not been received with unanimous rapture by the practitioners.
§ Mr. Wakeham
Whether that is within the scope of the debate is not a matter for me but for you, Mr. Speaker. I should think that my hon. Friend, with his usual ingenuity, will be able to make the points that he wants to make on that subject.
§ Mr. Pat Wall (Bradford, North)
May I bring to the attention of the Leader of the House a recent report by John Bourn, the Comptroller and Auditor General, regarding serious underpayments in the national insurance fund and the social fund—in particular, an estimate of underpayment of unemployment benefit of between £34 million and £89 million? That is very serious because it affects some of the most deprived people in our society. The money was not paid because of an error by Government Departments. The Minister responsible, if he is not prepared to initiate a debate in the House, should make a statement on payment to the unemployed. He should give an explanation and describe what measures will be taken to rectify the matter.
§ Mr. Wakeham
I do not know whether this is the same report from the Comptroller and Auditor General as that which I looked at the other day. I thought that there had been errors in allocation of costs rather than beneficiaries going short of anything to which they were entitled. However, I shall investigate the matter and I believe that the Public Accounts Committee will also consider some of these issues in the near future. If something has not been properly answered, I shall ensure that it is.
§ Mr. Charles Wardle (Bexhill and Battle)
My right hon. Friend will be aware of the recent consultation about possible amendments to the Financial Services Act 1986. Will he find time for a debate on the subject, with particular reference to the role of merchant banks? Does he recall that in the debate on the financial services White Paper in April 1985, several hon. Members, including me, referred to the possible conflicts of interest in merchant banks, but subsequent legislation left out that aspect?
§ Mr. Wakeham
I cannot promise that we shall have a debate in the near future but I shall certainly refer my hon. Friend's point to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to see what can be done in the future.
§ Mr. Robert Parry (Liverpool, Riverside)
Does the Leader of the House recall a question that I put to him some weeks ago regarding early-day motion 395?
[That this House calls upon the South African Goverment to release Mr. Oscar Mpetha a 79 year old trade union leader imprisoned since 1980; notes that he had his leg amputated in 1983, that he is a diabetic with complications and was refused permission to leave prison in 1986 to attend his wife's funeral; believes that his imprisonment is solely due to his struggle on behalf of black workers and as a member of the South African Congress of Trades' Unions and as President of the African National Congress in the 355 Cape; welcomes Her Majesty's Government's representations to the South African Government on his behalf; and calls upon the South African authorities to release Mr. Mpetha as a matter of urgency.]
That is supported by 118 hon. Members. Mr. Mpetha, who is imprisoned in South Africa, lost his son last week when he was killed in an accident. Will the Government make urgent representations for his immediate release on compassionate grounds?
§ Mr. Wakeham
As I have said on previous occasions, the Government have made representations to the South African Government on at least five separate occasions. I shall refer the hon. Gentleman's point to my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary.
§ Dr. John G. Blackburn (Dudley, West)
Will my right hon. Friend give serious consideration to the report of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, published on 22 March, on the production, distribution and sale of beers in this country? It will have a widespread effect on the brewing industry. Many of the major breweries are established in the midlands and there is a wave of uncertainty running through the industry. I should value it if my right hon. Friend would give an assurance that there will be a debate on this important subject.
§ Mr. Wakeham
It is an important subject and, in another capacity, as chairman of the Government's committee on the misuse of alcohol, I know that changes in the structure of the brewing industry are important for us to consider. However, many of my Government colleagues are also considering the matter, so it is being carefully examined.
§ Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington)
In light of the fact that Mr. Tiny Rowland has repeatedly used the Lonrho broadsheet to call for the prosecution of the Al-Fayeds over their trading practices, is it not now time for the Government to review the decision taken in 1977, which meant that prosecutions would not be brought under section 84 of the Larceny Act 1861, section 19 of the Theft Act 1968, and section 7 of the Exchange Control Act 1947 or for conspiracy to commit breaches of the Southern Rhodesia (United Nations Sanctions) (No. 2) Order 1968? Is it not time to review the decision and bring prosecutions under all four headings against the owners of The Observer?
§ Mr. Wakeham
As the hon. Gentleman knows, questions of prosecution are not for me. He may or may not have a case on the reforms of such matters, about which he is knowledgeable, but I regret that, even if they were acceptable to everybody, I could not find time for a debate next week. However, I shall refer the matter to my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.
§ Mr. Tony Marlow (Northampton, North)
I did not catch all of my right hon. Friend's statement, but may I draw his attention to the fact that during yesterday's sitting of the Select Committee on European Legislation the recommendation was made that a heavily amended draft directive on broadcasting should be brought before the House for debate before the common position is agreed? As that common position may well be agreed next Thursday, will my right hon. Friend look into that matter? 356 This is an important matter, as the directive has been much amended since it was last debated by the House as long as two years ago.
§ Mr. Wakeham
I understand my hon. Friend's concern and those expressed in the debate on the original proposals in January 1987, most of which have been met by the latest draft directive on broadcasting. I accept that the proposal has changed, but there has been a debate on the subject and I hope that my hon. Friend agrees that the changes were largely foreseeable and will generally find favour in the House. We have a heavy business programme next week which I cannot easily alter, but I am having discussions with my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Home Office on the subject.
§ Mr. Merlyn Rees (Morley and Leeds, South)
Will the Leader of the House reconsider the need for a statement next week as a result of Sir Leon Brittan's further revelation, for which we do not have to wait until Friday night; we have already heard it on television and read it in the newspapers. There is a strict constitutional convention in Britain, which does not have a written constitution, that Law Officers' letters should not be revealed. Two Law Officers nearly resigned on the issue and we now find that two civil servants at No. 10 took it upon themselves to reveal that letter, self-authorised. Two basic questions arise: first, why did they do it, and, secondly, why have they not been removed from their posts for doing so?
§ Mr. Wakeham
The right hon. Gentleman, who has a reputation for objectivity in such matters, should look at the report of the Select Committee on Defence and the debates in the House at the time. If he does that, he will see that nothing new has arisen. These matters were referred to. If the hon. Gentleman is interested in names he should look at the Select Committee's report, which was published and debated a long time ago. All the issues have been well ventilated. There is nothing fresh or new in the statement made by Sir Leon Brittan, as he confirmed yesterday.
§ Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North)
Is my right hon. Friend aware that, if President Gorbachev had arrived 24 hours earlier and had used the Underground, he would not have been able to keep his appointments, like many other Londoners, owing to the most uncalled for strike by the drivers, and, according to a CBI report, if he comes in 10 years' time, unless he uses a helicopter he will not be able to move because London traffic will be at a standstill. Therefore, may we have a debate next week on the management of traffic in London, and could the motion include the possibility of a Minister with responsibility for London's traffic?
§ Mr. Wakeham
I was at the airport yesterday to meet President Gorbachev, when adequate road transport was available for him. However, I have every reason to believe that those arrangements were made regardless of whether there was a strike of Underground workers. I regret that, against the advice of the union, Underground workers took unofficial action yesterday. It would be much better if proper negotiations to settle the dispute were entered into without delay. On my hon. Friend's wider question about ministerial changes, I do not think that that is a matter for me or that it arises today in particular.
§ Mr. Nigel Griffiths (Edinburgh, South)
Will the Leader of the House make time for an early debate on the repeal of rent legislation which has brought about a fourfold increase in the rents in housing association properties in my constituency, which has been forced on retired people and highlighted so well in The Scotsman today? Will the right hon. Gentleman give time for an early debate on the plight of retired people in retirement homes?
§ Mr. Wakeham
I cannot promise the hon. Gentleman a debate, but I should be tempted to have one because I suspect that his analysis of the situation was not a particularly balanced one. However, the points he has raised about elderly people seem to be relevant to the debate that I have managed to arrange for Tuesday of next week.
§ Sir Ian Lloyd (Havant)
My right hon. Friend will be aware of the widespread concern in all parts of the House as a result of the tragic events on the Namibia-Angola border. He may also be aware that those of us who recall the record of the United Nations in Katanga do not exactly have the utmost confidence in the ability of that organisation to react expeditiously and impartially. My right hon. Friend may not be aware of recent reports that aerodromes for advanced fighter aircraft are being constructed on the Angolan border, and that specialist Vietnamese troops are being brought into Angola to replace the Cubans. In the light of these very serious events, may we have an early opportunity to debate this matter?
§ Mr. Wakeham
I recognise the importance of the matter, and I recognise my hon. Friend's knowledge of that area, based on many years' experience. I wish that I could offer a debate in the near future. I shall certainly bear the matter in mind, but I cannot give my hon. Friend a promise.
§ Ms. Diane Abbott (Hackney, North and Stoke Newington)
May I draw the attention of the Leader of the House to early-day motion 44 on cosmetic experiments on animals?
[That this House is appalled by the failure of the Animals Act 1986 to prevent the testing of animals for cosmetic purposes; notes that in 1987 there were still 14,534 animals being used in cosmetic experiments and considers this totally unacceptable; and calls upon the Home Secretary to cease the granting of any further licences for cosmetic testing and furthermore to put a time limit on those existing licences for the same purposes.]
May I draw to his attention the fact that this is a completely barbaric and unnecessary practice, about which I have had very many letters from constituents? The early-day motion has been signed by more than 200 hon. Members. In the light of the feelings of millions of people up and down the country, will the Leader of the House make time for an early debate on this issue?
§ Mr. Wakeham
I have seen the hon. Lady's early-day motion. The term "cosmetic" covers not only beauty preparations, such as lipstick and perfumery, but hygienic products, such as toothpaste and anti-dandruff shampoos, as well as preparations to combat other problems, particularly for workers in industry. It is essential that all these products are safe to use and safe to produce. Safety testing, for mildness only, involves some use of animals. All applications for cosmetic testing licences are examined 358 by the Animal Procedures Committee, whose first report, published on 6 December, describes the difficult issues involved and its approach to them. I cannot promise the hon. Lady a debate at the present time, but it is a matter that I shall certainly bear in mind.
§ Mr. Neil Hamilton (Tatton)
I warmly endorse my right hon. Friend's decision not to waste any more of our time debating the Westland affair and its aftermath. Sir Leon Brittan, in his most recent remarks, has added nothing to what we knew already. He has not said anything that is inconsistent with anything said by the Government in the past. Although the endearing, but slightly barmy Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) and his friends may have an obsession—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I think the hon. Gentleman can do better than that. I do not think that we will have "barmy" here.
§ Mr. Hamilton
It was a slip of the tongue, Mr. Speaker, which I certainly withdraw.
Although the hon. Member for Linlithgow and many of his hon. Friends are obsessed by this topic, the country at large has no interest in it whatsoever.
§ Mr. Wakeham
As I have indicated, I do not think that there is anything new to be debated or discussed, and I am glad to have the support of my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow)
Is the Leader of the House suggesting that the recent statement by Sir Leon Brittan is in any way consistent with the evidence given, on behalf of the Government, by Lord Armstrong of Ilminster to the Select Committee? Is he saying that the Select Committee had any notion that there was explicit approval by two of the most senior civil servants? Would the Leader of the House feel it right next week to make a statement on his own position, in the light of the assertions by his hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Mr. Critchley) in the book "Heseltine"—the unauthorised biography—page 153, that he was present on 4 and 5 January 1986 when there were discussions at Chequers on tactics in relation to the Law Officers' letter, that he was present on 18 December 1985, with Mr. Bernard Ingham and Lord Whitelaw, when the strategy was being discussed, and that he was party to the inner Cabinet decisions on 9 January? Can he confirm his hon. Friend's statements, which are in writing?
§ Mr. Wakeham
The last time the hon. Gentleman raised the subject in that form he seemed to have got stuck at page 153 of the book. I suggest that he finishes the book, but I do not think that anything in it will give him any grounds for saying that the Government have not been forthcoming and that there have not been proper inquiries. Nothing new has come out in what Sir Leon Brittan has said. There is not just my word for it; Sir Leon himself, said there is nothing new. I see no grounds for an inquiry.
§ Mr. Ian Taylor (Esher)
Will my right hon. Friend find Government time for a debate about the inadequacies of the law on travelling people, some of whom may be gipsies? Many of my constituents have suffered great invasion of privacy and often abuse, from these people, who just camp without invitation. The police find it very difficult to move them on under the current legislation. Will he find time for this debate at an early date and will 359 he ask his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment for a White Paper on the Caravan Sites Act 1968?
§ Mr. Wakeham
I cannot promise my hon. Friend a debate, but I recognise that this matter causes concern in quite a number of constituencies, including his and, as a matter of fact, mine. I wonder whether my hon. Friend might consider raising the matter on an Adjournment debate.
§ Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)
Would it not be appropriate for the Prime Minister to make a statement next week to try to explain to the House and the country how her private secretary and her press secretary could approve and authorise the leak of the letter from the Solicitor-General unless they knew quite well that it would be her wish that they should do so? The Leader of the House tells us that what was said yesterday by Sir Leon Brittan is nothing new, and all the rest of it, but does he not recognise and appreciate that what is at stake here is the Prime Minister's integrity and truthfulness? My hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell), although he has been mocked and baited by the Tories over this issue, has been absolutely right.
§ Mr. Wakeham
These issues were well and truly debated at the time and nothing new has come up. Whether the hon. Gentleman likes it or not, that is the position. He might have got a little excited yesterday, but he really has missed the point. There is nothing new to discuss.
§ Mr. Doug Hoyle (Warrington, North)
Will the Leader of the House take time to read the two contributions on the Westland affair by his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister? If he does he will find that she suggested that her office had nothing to do with it. Sir Leon Brittan said yesterday quite categorically that Mr. Ingham and Mr. Powell approved the action. Will the right hon. Gentleman ask his right hon. Friend to come to the House and make a statement on why those two close associates of hers have not resigned? Will she at the same time give us a full, factual, detailed account of this squalid matter of the missing letter?
§ Mr. Wakeham
The hon. Gentleman invites me to take a quiet moment to read all these documents and speeches again. I did that just this morning in order to refresh my mind because I thought that some of these matters might come up in business questions. I suspect that the hon. Gentleman has not read them and I suggest that he should, because he would then probably agree with me that nothing new has arisen and therefore there is no need for a debate.
§ Mr. Harry Cohen (Leyton)
I have a two-part question. First, will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that the Prime Minister will make a statement to the House early next week on her discussions with President Gorbachev? Secondly, just in case President Gorbachev asked to see me, I thought that I would brush up on a video on nuclear disarmament from the Library, only to find after a short viewing that another Member wanted to watch the television, and I was chucked out of the room. That is not the first time this has happened. Can we make sure that there is a room in this place in which Members can look at videos to do with work?
§ Mr. Wakeham
Any time the hon. Gentleman wants to watch the television and he cannot find a place to do so, if he will drop me a note I will look into it immediately. I am very happy to assist him in any way on that part of his question. On the first part of his question, I cannot give any undertaking that the Prime Minister will be making a statement on her talks with President Gorbachev.
§ Mr. Greville Janner (Leicester, West)
Surely the Leader of the House can and ought to give an undertaking to the House that the Prime Minister will report not merely to the press but to the House on this very important and welcome visit by Mr. Gorbachev. Does the right hon. Gentleman know that, while the Jewish community in this country unanimously welcomes the visit, it remains deeply concerned at the large number of Jewish families still not allowed to emerge from the Soviet Union in spite of the fact that there has been a most welcome change in the Soviet Union's attitude both to emigration and to the rights of Jewish people within the Soviet Union? In particular, there are families such as the Upspensky family, the Chernobilsky family and the Lurie family who have been waiting over 10 years.
I was disturbed to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that there was to be no raising of individual cases by the Prime Minister with Mr. Gorbachev. Will he please reconsider his remarks and his failure to assure the House that there will be a statement on both human rights and the allegations that have been made about the sale to the Libyans by the Soviets of long-distance aircraft, which of course would have amazing potential in the hands of somebody like Gaddafi?
§ Mr. Wakeham
I am not in a position to say anything about the details of the talks, which are still going on. What I said was perfectly sensible and fair. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will, of course, raise the general matters in her talks with Mr. Gorbachev, but it seemed to be the best use of the day for my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary to raise the individual cases with him. As the hon. and learned Gentleman has great knowledge of, and long experience in, these matters and his contribution is acknowledged by hon. Members on all sides of the House, I certainly take seriously what he says. Statements in the House are governed by custom and practice and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will observe the normal customs in dealing with these matters. It is not for me to say at the Dispatch Box what she will or will not do. It is not the practice always to have statements after bilateral discussions.
§ Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South)
Can the Leader of the House confirm that the two EEC documents on Tuesday will be debated for only one and a half hours each? If that is the case, surely it is an inadequate amount of time when dealing with the EEC bulldozer yet again imposing more legislation on the United Kingdom.
May I draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to early-day motion 670 and ask for a debate on it?
[That this House draws attention to the editorial, Vilest M.P. in Britain, in the newspaper Today of 5th April, referring to the honourable Member for Dover; notes its expression of grave concern at the growth of violence against women; and urges all honourable Members to set an example of courtesy and restraint, whether towards reporters, photographers or Spanish police.] 361 Then the hon. Member for Dover (Mr. Shaw), referred to in the motion, will be able to explain how he falsely alleged that pickets at Dover—National Union of Seamen members sacked by P and O—were engaging in brutality and the double standard of the fact that the hon. Gentleman is accused by Today of beating up a woman photographer. That sort of double standard should be the subject of debate. At the same time, the hon. Member for Mid-Staffordshire (Mr. Heddle), who has been engaging in fisticuffs with the Spanish police, can explain his position as a representative of the law and order party. Can the Leader of the House, in the same debate, explain why there is this extensive thuggery in the parliamentary Conservative party and has it anything to do with lager drinking on the quiet?
§ Mr. Wakeham
If we were to have this debate I am glad that I would not have to be in the Chair, Mr. Speaker. There seem to be rather a lot of subjects and I would not want to have to keep that sort of debate in order.
I confirm that the motions on Tuesday night on EC documents will follow the Standing Orders of the House. These matters have been agreed through the usual channels and, assuming there are enough speakers for the Opposition Day debate and that does not end until 10 o'clock, there will be one and a half hours for each of those two debates.
With regard to early-day motion 670, I cannot arrange a debate on that. Anyone who wishes to complain of assault can go to the police or deal with the matter in other ways. If I had to arrange a debate every time that occured or every time the hon. Gentleman made some wild allegations about my hon. Friends, we would never get down to all the important matters such as dealing with the levy scheme.
§ Mr. Harry Ewing (Falkirk, East)
Unfortunately the Leader of the House does not appear to be aware of the seriousness of Sir Leon Brittan's allegations in the television programme. If the Leader of the House is saying that what Sir Leon Brittan said in that programme is acceptable to the Government, he is saying that the Government knew that the press secretary and the private secretary leaked the Law Officer's letter. If that is accepted by the Leader of the House, it is a staggering new development and gives rise to a serious situation.
Against that background will the right hon. Gentleman come to the House next week and explain why my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) can be named and suspended from the proceedings of the House for five days on a motion by the Leader of the House for what is now seen to be the truth? In what circumstances can the suspension be removed, and if there are no provisions for removing it can the matter be referred to the Select Committee on Procedure?
§ Mr. Wakeham
I think that we are making progress when the charming hon. Gentleman, whom the whole House respects, can talk so much rubbish in such a short time. We clearly recognise that it is not a question of the Opposition fox having been shot, because there was no fox for them to shoot in the first place. The allegations and problems that arose over what is known as the Westland affair were fully debated at the time. We had debates in the House and Select Committee reports, and nothing new has 362 emerged in recent times to require any further discussion or debate about the matter. Obviously, the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends are disappointed that that should be the case. That is why the Opposition put up the charming hon. Member for Falkirk, East (Mr. Ewing) to try to make something out of the mess in which they find themselves.
§ Mr. Keith Vaz (Leicester, East)
Could we have a statement or debate on the operation of regulations made under section 1 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984? After a four-year campaign by shopkeepers and residents in the East Park road area of my constituency, the city council established some laybys but, because of the provisions of section 1 of the Act, nobody can park in them until the double yellow lines have been removed. Under the terms of the Act it will take seven months to remove those lines. Will the Leader of the House have a word with the Secretary of State for Transport to see whether we can amend the regulations to end this absurd scenario?
§ Mr. Wakeham
I do not entirely accept what the hon. Gentleman says, but I certainly accede to his request to raise the matter with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport, and I shall write to him.
§ Mr. Richard Caborn (Sheffield, Central)
Will the Leader of the House arrange for the Prime Minister to come to the Dispatch Box next week to make a statement about the Namibia crisis and the implementation of United Nations resolution 435? The Prime Minister should do that because she misled the House on no fewer than three occasions on 4 April. She told the House:There is no provision in the United Nations plan for SWAPO to have bases in Namibia."—[Official Report, 4 April 1989; Vol. 150, c. 15.]That would be in contravention of protocol SI 13120 of 26 February 1979.
Secondly, as my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) said, the statement by the secretary general to the Security Council is not in the Library and is not likely to be put there because it is a confidential document. The implication about SWAPO and the impression given to the outside world by the House was based on that report which we cannot see, although we were told at the time that we would have sight of the document.
The third matter is about SWAPO being a signatory to the Geneva protocol. That is mentioned in column 15 of the Official Report of 4 April 1989. That is not the case. SWAPO is not a signatory to that and the letter from the leader of SWAPO to the secretary general did not accept the protocol, which had four signatories. Misleading statements were given to the House indicating a totally biased approach against SWAPO. This is a serious matter, because we are talking not just about the independence of Namibia but about matters that affect the whole of southern Africa. As I have said, the Prime Minister misled the House on three occasions and she should now come to the House and make a statement.
§ Mr. Wakeham
I do not accept that at all. We have discussed whether the documents were in the Library and I recognise that there was some misunderstanding. The first requirement is for urgent action to restore the ceasefire under the authority of the United Nations. We are active in promoting that. Secondly, it is important for 363 all parties to hold to the terms of the United Nations plan for the independence of Namibia and to the other international undertakings, notably the Geneva protocol. It has been suggested that there was a provision for SWAPO bases in the country. That assertion is based on proposals made by the then secretary general in February 1979. Those were overtaken by a subsequent agreement in 1982 by the parties involved to monitor bases in Angola and Zambia. That is why there is no provision in the secretary general's report of 23 January, which sets out his proposals for the role of the United Nations transition assistance group, for any SWAPO bases inside Namibia.