HL Deb 26 July 1967 vol 285 cc883-6

11.30 a.m.


My Lords, with permission, I should like to make a short business statement. After this statement on business, and before the two Motions in the name of my noble friend the Leader of the House, there will be two Statements, the first on Air Transport Policy, by my noble friend Lord Walston, and the second on the Culham Atomic Energy Authority Establishment, by myself.

Perhaps it would be for the convenience of the House if I informed your Lordships of the arrangements made for today and tomorrow. It is intended to sit until shortly after 1 p.m. to-day for further consideration of the Countryside (Scotland) Bill. If, as we anticipate, it is not possible to finish this morning, it is intended to complete the Committee stage of this Bill to-morrow evening. The House will sit again at 2 p.m. this afternoon for the Committee of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill. It is intended to sit until a late hour and to adjourn for dinner at a convenient moment after 7 p.m.

To-morrow, Thursday, the House will meet at 11.15 a.m. After Questions, we will consider the Commons Messages on the Criminal Justice Bill, the Matrimonial Homes Bill and the Road Traffic Regulations Bill in the morning. After a lunchtime adjournment, the House will meet again at 2 p.m. to consider the Commons Amendments to the Companies Bill. Thereafter, the Commons Message on the Water (Scotland) Bill will be considered and, as I have already said, the Committee stage of the Countryside (Scotland) Bill will be completed if it does not prove possible to complete it this morning.

My Lords, may I take this opportunity, in an irregular but I think satisfactory way, to wish my noble friend Lord Beswick, the new Government Chief Whip, the success I know he will achieve. He has come into his new office at a rather difficult time from a business point of view, but, none the less, I am sure that, with the usual way we manage things and his ability and skill, we shall contrive to get through our business.


My Lords, as my noble friend Lord Carrington said yesterday, we on these Benches welcome the noble Lord, Lord Beswick, very much. We will naturally give him all the assistance that we possibly can.

On the business statement, we feel that the question of the Countryside (Scotland) Bill is slightly difficult. Owing to the fact that there are two Statements this morning, we shall not have much time, and I was wondering whether, if it looks a little later on that there might be a chance to finish it this morning, it would be possible to continue this morning's sitting until, say, a quarter past one or twenty past one, and then have the lunch adjournment slightly later. If we could finish it this morning, it would be of great assistance to some noble Lords who deal with the Scottish business.


My Lords, the Government wish to be as accommodating as possible. I think the answer is to see how we get on. If we can possibly help it, I do not think we want to cut into the time of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill. But I think the usual channels can watch progress, and we will continue to keep the House informed as to what adaptations, if any, are necessary. I am inclined to think that we might run a few minutes after one o'clock if it serves any purpose; but let us see how we go.


My Lords, may I ask why the arrangement made last Thursday has been altered, whereby we were going to go on through lunch—particularly as we had the Brighton Marina Bill pushed on us last Thursday, when we had originally understood that we were going to have the whole of Thursday for the Countryside (Scotland) Bill? Does the noble Lord not agree that, as some noble Lords have had to come down from Scotland, we might have been told in advance of these arrangements?


My Lords, I obviously sympathise with any Scottish Peer in these circumstances, but we do the best we can, and we have an extremely hard-working lot of Official Reporters who must have a few moments for sustenance. These matters have been very carefully considered. I am sorry the noble Duke was not aware of this, but I hope it will come out all right.


My Lords, on the Highlands and Islands Development (Scotland) Bill we sat far into the night, and we are quite prepared to do this again. I am very upset about this. I have come down all the way from Inverness for this Bill, and it is extremely inconvenient. We were allowed only 2½ hours last Thursday and were then put off for the Brighton Marina Bill. Now we are to be put off again, and it makes matters extremely difficult for us. It is a bit unfair that Scottish measures should be pushed into the background.


My Lords, I should never dream of pushing a Scottish measure into the background. We just do our best to satisfy everyone; and the two sides of the House have been in constant touch. I realise that this is not a matter in which we shall always necessarily be able to satisfy Back-Benchers, with their particular problems. I am not unhopeful that we shall in fact be able to satisfy noble Lords from Scotland, and I can only say that we really are trying to do our best. I appreciate the noble Lord's feelings, and, if necessary, we can have some further discussion on it.


My Lords, has the noble Lord any idea what time on Thursday evening the Countryside (Scotland) Bill will come on?


I am afraid I cannot give a definite undertaking on that. I am sorry, but I think we shall just have to see what progress we can make. I hope your Lordships, who have been extremely co-operative in the difficult situation that confronts us, will appreciate that we have our troubles, too, and that we just do the best we can.


My Lords, may I just say how much I appreciate the good will which has been extended to me on my appointment, and add that I shall do my utmost to deserve it.