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Mr John Biffen (North Shropshire)

I should like to make a brief business statement.

In the light of the announcement earlier today by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, the business for the remainder of the week will be rearranged. I propose to make a further statement to the House later today, following discussions through the usual channels.

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Mr Peter Shore (Bethnal Green and Stepney)

We very much welcome the circumstances that have brought the right hon. Gentleman to the House, and we shall look forward to his further statement at 7 o'clock this evening.

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Mr John Stokes (Halesowen and Stourbridge)

With regard to the coming struggle, to which Conservative Members look forward with relish, does my right hon. Friend recall the words of Disraeli and Lord Randolph Churchill, "Trust the people"? That is exactly what we are going to do.

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Mr Enoch Powell (South Down)

With reference to the business provisionally being considered through the usual channels for the remainder of the week, will the Leader of the House see whether he can transfer the Territorial Sea Bill debate from Wednesday to Tuesday, which may be more convenient for some hon. Members with a special interest in that legislation?

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Mr Kenneth Lewis (Stamford and Spalding)

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I have not heard the announcement which he said my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made? But, in so far as my right hon. Friend has now conveyed it to me, may I—I think that the House agrees—congratulate him on the way in which he has answered our questions during business time throughout this Parliament'? However, I am sorry that he seems to have fallen down in his last statement. I hope that he realises that, by announcing the election for June, he is taking from me and from many of my colleagues our summer holiday pay.

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Dr Maurice Miller (East Kilbride)

Does the rearrangement of business for the rest of this week include the rearrangement of today's business?

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Mr John Biffen (North Shropshire)

No. It is hoped that today's business will stand as announced last Thursday.

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Sir Peter Emery (Honiton)

May I presume that, among the immensely important business that will have to be rearranged, my right hon. Friend will make certain that we have a debate on the Procedure Committee's reports?

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Mr John Biffen (North Shropshire)

I am sure that I can arrange for that to be considered, but it is a matter of travelling hopefully rather than expectantly.

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Mr David Alton (Liverpool Mossley Hill)

Does the Leader of the House think that it is legitimate for the guillotine to be used on legislation as important as the Scottish rates legislation? Does he agree that, if we had fixed-term Parliaments, the Government would not find themselves in the position of having to bludgeon the House into ramming through important legislation of this kind?

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Mr John Biffen (North Shropshire)

The decision of the House to provide for a guillotine motion on the Abolition of Domestic Rates Etc. (Scotland) Bill was taken some weeks ago.

Several Hon. Members:

rose——

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Mr Bernard Weatherill (Croydon North East)

Order. We do not know what the rearrangement of business will be. I am sure that the House would agree that since this is a private Members' day we should reserve further questions until later.