§ 3.8 p.m.
§ The Lord President of the Council (Viscount Whitelaw)
My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.
Moved, That Standing Order 38 (Arrangement of the Order Paper) be suspended until the Summer Recess so far as is necessary to give Her Majesty's Government power to arrange the order of business: and that Standing Order No. 44 (No two stages of a Bill to be taken on one day) be suspended for the same period.—(Viscount Whitelaw.)
§ Baroness Burton of Coventry
My Lords, before the House agrees to the Motion, might I ask the Lord President whether he feels able to express an opinion on an aspect which seems to me to be unfortunate, in so far as this House is concerned, particularly in view of his well-known and well-recognised attitude concerning the position held by your Lordships' House in Parliament?
The Motion refers to business in this House and asks that Her Majesty's Government be given power to arrange the order of business until the Summer Recess. Might I ask the Lord President whether it is correct that on Wednesday in another place a debate on the report of the Civil Aviation Authority is to take place? If so, could the business in our House be adjusted accordingly?
Secondly, if the Secretary of State is to make a Statement on this report in another place on that day, should it not be made here also. As it is a matter of great interest it may be that such a Statement is to be repeated here. I ask the Lord President to realise that having looked at the business in another place I recognise that the possible debate about which I am speaking might arise from the Consolidated Fund Bill. We former Members of another place realise that subjects selected for debate on that occasion only necessitate a Government Minister being responsible for the subject concerned. While the noble Lord as Leader of the House cannot be held responsible for the Consolidated Fund Bill in another place, I suggest that a Government Statement is another matter. I wonder whether I might ask the Lord President to consider whether it would not be quite wrong to deny your Lordships' House the opportunity of a debate and a Statement at the same time as another place? Many of us here would wish to give our views so that the Government could weigh opinion of both Houses, not one in advance of the other. I suggest that such a course of action would be most valuable to the Government.
Finally, as the report is of such interest to the country, to the future of the civil aviation industry, to the taxpayer and to travellers, I very much hope that 13 the noble Viscount the Leader of the House will be able to take some action on our behalf, in particular concerning any Government Statement.
§ Viscount Whitelaw
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness. I recognise at once the importance of the subject that she has raised and I recognise, too, the importance that this House should be fully involved in this particular subject. I understand that it is likely that in another place during consideration of the Consolidated Fund Bill on Wednesday there will be such a debate. That is entirely a matter for the other place, and they will make their decision as to whether or not they have it. For our part, I understand that an Unstarred Question is to be asked today week when this subject will certainly be discussed.
As for the question of a Statement, if there is to be a Statement—and I cannot confirm that at this stage—of course it will be open to the Opposition to decide whether they wish to have it repeated in this House. I would suspect, though it would be nothing to do with me, that a Statement of this importance would very naturally be requested for repetition in this House; and the Government would be only too pleased to respond to any such request.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.