Mr. H. Wilson:
Since the last item which he announced is for the beginning of the week before Whitsun, is the Leader of the House now able to say what the Government's intentions are about the adjournment for the Whitsun Recess?
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that as soon as we come back after the Recess there will be a very strong desire from this side of the House, and perhaps on the opposite side, too, for a full-dress debate on foreign affairs and disarmament?
I shall make an announcement about the Recess as soon as I can. We hope that with reasonable progress, particularly with the Finance Bill, the Recess will he two weeks and a weekend—17 or 18 days as the case may be.
I take note of what the Leader of the Opposition has said about the business after we come back. We can, of course, discuss that.
On the Order Paper no fewer than nine statutory instruments have been set down for consideration, each of which has the note that it has not yet been considered by the Select Committee on Statutory Instruments. How has that irregularity taken place? Are they all of such urgency that they cannot be first considered by the Committee?
No, Sir. The Committee is meeting on Tuesday, the 21st. This is quite normal, as reference to previous business statements would assure my hon. Friend. If any irregularity were found in them, the business of the House which I have announced would have to be altered, but I am sure that my hon. Friend will find, if he looks it up—and he knows about these matters very well indeed—that this is a normal form of announcement.
May we take it from what the right hon. Gentleman has said that there is no intention of taking any of these Statutory Instruments until the Select Committee has met on the 21st?
That is so; and if anything were found in them which was unsatisfactory the business would have to be altered accordingly. I am glad to have the opportunity of making that clear.
Having regard to the Motion on the Order Paper in the name of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hertford (Sir D. Walker-Smith) concerning Commonwealth trade, can my right hon. Friend assure me and the House that we shall have an opportunity of debating the important consequences for this country of the E.F.T.A., Commonwealth and G.A.T.T. conferences?
I cannot give that assurance, but I have announced business up to Monday of the week in which we rise for the Whitsun Recess. Naturally, there are matters which we shall have to take in that week.
As to the point raised by my hon. Friend, I think we ought to wait and see how matters at present being discussed turn out. Then in competition with other claimants, I shall consider his suggestion.
I can answer the first point fairly precisely, but not the second. It is not a difficult Bill to draft, but there are one or two rather complicated purely drafting matters to give effect to the joint Report of the two Houses and the statement I announced yesterday. I hope—it can be no more—that the appropriate Minister will be able to present the Bill to Parliament before Whitsun if this goes well. If not, it will be immediately afterwards, but I hope before.
I cannot say when we shall debate this matter, but, as I said yesterday, we should like to get the Bill this Session.
Will the Leader of the House say whether his attention has been drawn to the Motion which appears on the Order Paper today in my name and the names of 100 hon. and right hon. Members drawing attention to policies being pursued by the South African Government and calling upon Her Majesty's Government to propose at the United Nations a general embargo upon the shipment of arms or military equipment?
[That this House condemns the policy of apartheid pursued by the Government of South Africa, the denial of elementary human rights to the great majority of the South African people and the series of enactments whereby the South African Parliament have abrogated the rule of law and transformed the Republic into a police state; further condemns the refusal of the South African Government to accept and act on the opinion of the International Court on South West Africa; and, having regard to the views expressed on 6th November 1962 by the General Assembly of the United Nations, calls upon Her Majesty's Government to propose to the United Nations a general embargo upon the export of arms and military equipment to South Africa.]
I have, of course, studied that Motion. Every hon. Member holds views and they do not differ, I dare say, from the views of many hon. Members opposite about the policy of apartheid in South Africa. That is not in dispute. What is in dispute is whether the methods of the Opposition are wise or not—and we think that they are not. I could not undertake to find Government time to debate the Motion.
We shall be bringing the further stages of the Television Bill before the House as soon as is reasonably possible and appropriate. Some Amendments have been tabled by my right hon. Friend the Postmaster-General. But the Bill is not included in the business which I have announced.
Answering the question which the Leader of the Opposition raised about time to discuss these matters, I shall pay more attention to what he says when I hear him making exactly the same answers in relation to other and Communist countries whose methods we deplore.
Order. I think that everybody is to blame, probably including myself. We cannot relate this to the business for the ensuing week. As the servant of the House, I am trying to manage the business of the House for it, and I am sure that it is in the common interest to keep the business questions to business, otherwise the discussion ranges too wide.
I am not sure whether the hon. and learned Member is referring to the Bill on intestacy, in which there is a considerable amount of interest. If so, I can tell him that there is a chance that it will be introduced into the House at a very early date.
I was referring to the Bill which is designed to repeal the Wills Act of 1861—a very useful Bill which was introduced last November and opposed by some hon. Members opposite, but which has at last been given a Second Reading and which is now due for the Committee stage. When will he find time for the Committee stage?
I was not clear whether the hon. and learned Member was referring to that Bill or to the Bill on Intestacy, about which I made an earlier answer. I am sorry if I misunderstood him. The Bill to which he now refers will have to take its turn with all the other Private Members' Bills.
May I pursue the question asked by the hon. and learned Member for Ipswich (Mr. D. Foot) and ask the Leader of the House whether he wishes to correct one impression which he has given? If the House wants to debate a controversial matter, as arms to South Africa certainly is, does he not agree that that is an additional reason for debating it and that as Leader of the House of Commons, and not as joint head of the Conservative Central Office, it is his business to serve the interest of the House and not to make party points?
Is my right hon. Friend aware that a number of hon. Members on this side of the House would like to discuss the whole problem of the export of armaments, including the wisdom of sending military aircraft to countries such as Indonesia?
Will the Leader of the House tell us whether the Government will be making a statement on the suggested rundown in the dockyards, details of which appeared in the Press this morning? Is he aware that there is considerable anger on this side of the House about the way in which this matter has been handled in that the Minister has seen Conservative Members affected, but has not seen hon. Members on this side of the House?
On another point, will he make arrangements for the annual report of the Duchy of Lancaster to be available in the Vote Office? I am informed that that office has never seen it there, although the right hon. Gentleman said that the Treasury presented it to the House.
I will first answer the second of those two slightly unrelated points.
As the hon. Member knows from his inquiries, the Duchy of Lancaster is not a Government Department and does not have a Parliamentary Vote, but every year the Treasury presents its accounts to Parliament. I will see whether there is any way in which they can be made more conveniently available.
Answering, next, the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, there is no intention of making a statement on the matter to which the hon. Member referred within the compass of the business statement which I have announced.
Does the Leader of the House recollect that several months ago he gave a promise that he would inquire into whether hon. Members who abstain from voting and wish to have their abstentions recorded in HANSARD shall have the right to do so? I do not ask him to make a statement next week, but will he promise to give the matter his early attention?
I have been looking at that and a number of other matters, and I am at the moment in negotiation as to the matters—there are at least a dozen of them—which are possible candidates which might be considered by the Select Committee on Procedure.
Mr. H. Wilson:
May I refer to the questions asked by the hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) and to next week's business? Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that when we debated the position arising out of the break- down of the Brussels negotiations, on 11th February, the Prime Minister made a great point of the Commonwealth Trade Ministers' conference in May—the conference which was held this week. Will the right hon. Gentleman give an undertaking that we shall have a full statement made to the House on this week's conference as part of next week's business, so that the House could then consider whether we ought to devote some time to debating the whole position of Commonwealth trade?
When a statement is made about the future of the dockyards, will it be made in the form of a statement to the House and not in answer to a Question which limits the possibility of further questions?