In view of the great anxiety felt by workers in Short Brothers and Harland, and the fact that the Ulster Members were not given an opportunity of speaking in the recent aircraft debate, would the Leader of the House ask his right hon. Friend the Minister of Aviation whether he would make a statement about the future of Short Brothers as soon as possible?
May I ask the Leader of the House whether he is aware that there are strong rumours that the Government are contemplating proposing a change in the arrangements for the control of the Palace of Westminster and that it has been said that there may be a statement made upon this matter next week? Would he realise that this is a matter for the House of Commons as a whole and agree that there should be consultations and discussions, and, possibly, a debate before any final decision is announced.
My right hon. Friend will have seen a new Motion on the Order Paper dealing with the advertising of cigarettes, which has been signed by a number of our hon. Friends and will shortly be signed by a great many more, as evidence of the strong feeling on this subject. Could he say whether we shall have time to extend the very welcome television ban which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health has introduced?
[That this House warmly congratulates the Minister of Health and other Ministers concerned on their decision to prohibit advertisements for cigarettes on commercial television; and urges Her Majesty's Government, in view of the proven dangers to health, including cancer, of cigarette smoking, to persuade and if necessary compel the newspaper, periodical, cinema and poster-site proprietors to follow this example.]
The Leader of the House is obviously not aware that the Written Answer was a purely nebulous statement, meaning virtually nothing, and that the whole substance of what the right hon. Gentleman said was delivered outside the House. I am asking for an opportunity to be given to the Minister to explain what he meant.
Has the attention of the Leader of the House been drawn to the existence on the Order Paper of a Motion for an early day referring to the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell)? Will he provide time for a debate upon this Motion, as such a debate could only be valuable to the economic and constitutional education of the party opposite?
[That this House deplores the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West, in which he called for a policy of non-co-operation by industry with Her Majesty's Government, because such a policy would strike at the very roots of our democratic institutions and way of life.]
With reference to the reply given by my hon. Friend about Short Brothers and the aircraft industry in general, may I ask whether his attention has been drawn to two Motions on the Order Paper dealing with a further matter concerning the aviation industry and the efficiency, if that is the right word, and competence of the previous Minister of Defence?
I have read Sir Roy Dobson's statement with interest. I should think that the country has, too. As to the first of the two early-day Motions, we will consider whether any further action is necessary. I should think that the whole House, and certainly the country, will agree with Sir Roy Dobson's statement.
Leaving that on one side for the moment—[HON. MEMBERS: "Twerp."]—may I ask the Leader of the House whether he will find time for a debate on the Motion standing on the Order Paper in the names of my hon. and right hon. Friends and myself concerning discrepancies in the timing and, perhaps, questions as to the frankness of the Government, in relation to the signing of contracts for American aircraft, or whether he could arrange for the Government to issue a full White Paper giving the details?
Had my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence been given an opportunity to complete his speech, information on the C130 would have been available. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] He is, nevertheless, answering a Question today. He is prepared to answer a further Question if the hon. Member will put it down for Monday of next week. May I, however, say that the review of the C130 in relation to the proposed HS802 was considered and a decision taken before the contract was signed.
As a servant of the House, I have a suspicion that we are getting outside the range of business matters. As we have work to do, we must confine ourselves, on the business statement, to matters concerning business.
The supplementary question that I wish to ask has nothing to do with opinion expressed outside the House, but concerns our experience in the House only a few days ago, which will be within the recollection of the Leader of the House. Both the Minister of Aviation and the Secretary of State for Defence made speeches in the air debate. Both of them had the knowledge that the contract had been signed the night before. Neither of them mentioned it. Although the Secretary of State had only 29 minutes, he might have managed to give the information during that time. Does not the Leader of the House agree that on the face of it this appears to be a deliberate act of concealing information?
If I may complete my question to the Leader of the House, does he not agree that both in the case mentioned by my hon. Friend, and in the case of the coal industry, when a report was given to the newspapers which differed in differing newspapers and differed from the Written Answer, this House has been treated, in this instance and in the case of the aircraft contracts, with scant respect?
On the question of the air contracts, I have already said that if my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence had been given the opportunity, he would have given the information. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I remind the House that out of the so-called 29 minutes, my right hon. Friend had something like 25 minutes. Four minutes were taken up with bogus points of order. The Opposition Chief Whip moved the Closure two minutes before ten o'clock.
I am trying to be fair about this. I do not blame the hon. Gentleman. I have been in the same position, sitting in the seat which he now occupies, and one can look at the clock only obliquely and cannot really see when it is ten o'clock. The hon. Gentleman will have to sit on the Table to get a direct view.
I have, however, spoken this morning to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence about this matter and he gives me a firm assurance that he would have dealt with the question of the contract had he been given time.
Order. The hon. Member must be misunderstanding me. I do not want discussion of these factual matters at this time. We have not nearly finished with the business questions. We want to get on.
May I make what I think would be a helpful suggestion relating to next week's business? My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has announced that next Wednesday is to be a Supply day, which is in the gift of the Opposition, who have chosen as the subject the manning of the National Health Service. Could my right hon. Friend, through the usual channels, seek to persuade the Opposition to have another debate on aviation, when my right hon. Friend could make a statement about the contractual procedures that have been the subject of debate and which would give an opportunity for the "twerps" to do some homework?
In considering the arrangements for statements by Ministers at the end of Questions next week, will the Leader of the House bear in mind that the evasive tactics of the Minister of Power, in giving a Written Answer about an important question of policy with regard to coal, instead of an Oral Answer, which would have been more customary, and thus submitting himself to the questioning of the House, has placed us in difficulty today in discussing the Gas Bill, because we do not know whether he will allow the gas industry to continue to use oil?
In view of the three unusual circumstances this year, namely, that August Bank Holiday falls at the end of the month, that the Government have a large amount of important legislation, more than usual, to get through before that time, and that there is undue pressure on hon. Members' time in the House —will my right hon. Friend consider making an unusually early announcement about the Summer Recess, so that hon. Members can arrange their family holidays?
Has the attention of the Leader of the House been drawn to early-day Motion No. 85? In view of the great urgency of this matter, as five Commonwealth citizens are under sentence of death, will the right hon. Gentleman arrange for an early debate, or for Her Majesty's Government to make a statement dealing with their representations to the Ghana Government on this matter?
[That this House invites Her Majesty's Government to express to the Government of Ghana their concern at the sentences passed on Mr. Adamafio, Mr. Adjei, Mr. Cofie Crabbe, Mr. Otchera and Mr. Manu, and to urge that sympathetic and immediate consideration be given to their sentences with a view to the commutation thereof, particularly having regard to the previous acquittal of some of them on charges on which they have now been convicted.]
I have seen the Motion on the Order Paper. No doubt, there is a great deal of sympathy with the views expressed in it, but this is an internal matter for the Ghanaian Government. Nevertheless, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations will have it drawn to his attention.
The Leader of the House implied in his earlier reply that if the Secretary of State for Defence had had time during the last 30 seconds of his speech he would have told the House about the contractual arrangements with the Americans for the purchase of aircraft. Since the Secretary of State's speech was a fully prepared typescript, will he be good enough to circulate to the House the remaining passage which the Secretary of State was unable to deliver?
[That this House regrets the actions and statements by Conservative Members seeking to exploit for party political purposes the recent increases in Members' salaries, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of them have accepted the increases with alacrity and gratitude, and have ignored that the policy adopted by the House was based upon the initiative of the previous Government. which action was chivalrously endorsed by the present Leader of the Opposition in the statement he made in the House on 16th November, 1964.]
This has been fully discussed on a Motion and on a decision of the House, against which there were no votes at all. Earlier, in the setting up of the Lawrence Committee, for which credit has been given to the former Prime Minister, the present Leader of the Opposition, a free discussion took place on that point and there was, I believe, no dissension.
May I ask the Leader of the House whether he is aware that I have today tabled a Motion which proposes to bring the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Bill back to the Floor of the House for discussion in Committee of the whole House? In view of the grave event yesterday, in which the police were concerned, will the Government provide an early opportunity for this Motion to be discussed, since it has wide support in the country and those of us who represent constituencies in which there are prisons are gravely disturbed at the passage the Bill is having in Standing Committee?
In view of the widespread anxiety felt in the country about the dangerous situation which is developing in and around Vietnam, and in view of the Motion on the subject standing on the Order Paper in the names of 50 and more hon. Members and myself, would my right hon. Friend consider finding time at an early date for a debate on the situation in South-East Asia?
[That this House, realising that British policy in regard to Vietnam is based upon acceptance in principle of the 1954 Geneva Declaration, that United States policy springs from non-acceptance ofthat Declaration, and that therefore on this point the objectives of the two countries cannot be the same, expresses the urgent hope that the British Government will take an early initiative in order to bring about a cease-fire and a political settlement which is essential to the re-establishment of peace.]
Reverting to the Motion referred to by the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton), in view of the fact that on past occasions Parliament has found an opportunity under its procedure to express its opinion when people have either been threatened with or under sentence of death, would my right hon. Friend give the House an assurance that an early opportunity will be found to raise the urgent matter of the five people who are under such sentence in Ghana?
I have already said that there is no British Government responsibility here. This is an internal matter for the Ghanaian Government. There is, nevertheless, a great deal of sympathy for the views expressed. I think that at the moment we can do no other than promise to draw this matter to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Commonwealth Secretary.
Would the Leader of the House answer two questions? First, reverting to the request of the hon. Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus), would he do his best to meet that request since we would all like to see how a united party operates in action?
Secondly, since the Leader of the House may have noticed that there are no fewer than three Motions on the Order Paper, signed by hon. Members of all parties, on the question of integration, and since it seems to be the general wish that he should provide for an early debate on immigration, will he remember that if he grants this request he should make it a two-day debate so that plenty of time is available to enable all hon. Members opposite to explain their somersaults on this matter?
My right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary, in his statement on immigration, dealt with evasion. This part of the matter is a difficult problem. When he is prepared to make a further statement, no doubt he will be here to do so. The question of the integration of immigrants is receiving immediate attention.
In giving his assurance to draw the attention of his right hon. Friend to the question of people under sentence of death, to which reference has been made, would my right hon. Friend impress upon him that this is a matter on which hon. Members on both sides of the House feel very strongly?
Referring to the question raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Exeter (Sir Rolf Dudley Williams), does the Leader of the House recognise that many hon. Members who, like myself, in principle hold the abolishionist view, also resent the fact that this Bill is being discussed upstairs? As it is becoming a farce to regard this as a Private Member's Bill—because it was in the Queen's speech, Government time was found for its Second Reading and the Government Whips decreed that it should go upstairs—could he see that the fullest consideration, including the rest of the Committee stage, takes place on the Floor of the House?
I have already said that we should see how we go with the Bill. I thought that there had been three days in Committee but apparently I was wrong. I stand corrected. There have been two days. Nevertheless, let us see what happens in Committee before considering whether it should be brought on to the Floor of the House.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a Motion on the Order Paper, standing in the names of 40 of my hon. Friends and myself, referring to the punishment of armed criminals and that since that Motion was tabled crimes of violence have increased, culminating yesterday in brutal attacks on the police? Will the Leader of the House see that time is made available for this very important subject to be debated, before more people are murdered?
[That this House, concerned at the increase in crimes of violence, calls upon the Government to take steps to ensure that a realistic and deterrent punishment be imposed upon criminals who, whilst engaged in illegal activities, carry potentially lethal arms, whether or not the weapons are actually used.]
Is the Leader of the House able to find time to debate a Motion standing on the Order Paper in my name dealing with the premature publication of Ministerial statements? Is he aware that last week the Prime Minister's statement on the forthcoming Commonwealth Prime Ministers' meeting appeared almost word for word three hours earlier on the tape and in the Press, and that a similar thing happened in regard to his right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government? Is this a new technique in government, or does it constitute an affront to the House?
I have had a look at this matter. There is no departure from what has been the usual procedure. What happened was that the Prime Minister was to reply at the end of Questions on the question of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' conference. The Press were notified that he would reply at the end of Question Time. It was not difficult for them to assume, therefore, that a Commonwealth conference was taking place.
Would the Leader of the House give some thought to the increasing practice of Ministers reading speeches at a very high speed? [Laughter.] This is a very real problem, because as we move into more and more highly technical subjects, in both aviation and science, it is becoming increasingly difficult for hon. Members to follow the highly technical information which Ministers are putting before them. May I ask—
Order. If the hon. Member wants to propose some change in our procedure there is a procedure by which he can ask for appropriate steps to be taken, but I do not think that this relates to next week's business.
As the Motion of my right hon. Friend the Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton), concerning the Ghana sentences, has received support just now from both sides of the House, will the Leader of the House reconsider what he said about the Government not being able to make a statement because of this being an internal matter? Did not the last Government make representations in South Africa about certain sentences? Will the Leader of the House consult his right hon. Friends, and so prevail upon them that a statement is made to the House?
I have already said on two occasions that I would consult my right hon. Friend. I do not think that we help the position by continuing to debate it this afternoon.
Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that as Leader of the House he is Leader of the whole House, arid not just of the Government side? Does he not think that it would be more helpful to our debates if very important statements, which have to be very carefully considered and which have considerable repercussions on employment and balance of payments were made preferably on the day before the debate, or, if they are to be made during the debate, should be made in the opening speech and not left to the last 30 seconds, as this is very insulting to the House?
I accept the point that where an important statement is to be made in a speech, it should be made slowly and factually so that the whole House can hear it. But I do not accept that when a Minister is making a statement, even at the end of a speech, and is interrupted by points of order and noise generally, he is responsible because the information is not conveyed.
As it seems to be the practice on this occasion for sponsors of various Motions to draw them to the attention of the Leader of the House, will my right hon. Friend, in taking note of all the other Motions, take note of Motion No. 64 for next week, bearing in mind that it is the subject of two Amendments, one of which has considerable support?
Would the right hon. Gentleman direct his attention to Motion No. 60, and consider its being placed with the business of the House for the coming week? It is concerned with the deplorable action of the Minister of Transport in refusing to receive a deputation from the Devon County Council and the Teignmouth Urban Council.
[That this House deplores the action of the Minister of Transport in refusing to receive a deputation from the two responsible local authorities, Devon County Council and Teignmouth Urban DistrictCouncil, accompanied by the Member for the Tiverton Division, to discuss the action necessary to enable the redevelopment of the war-damaged centre of Teignmouth to proceed.]
I understand that a deputation on this matter was received on 23rd September. There is no point in receiving a further deputation until something new can be said.
I am always filled with anxiety, but I know of no principle on which I can refuse to hear an hon. Member who rises at this time. Much responsibility rests on those hon. Members who do rise not to abuse the occasion.
Mr. Edward M. Taylor:
Would the Leader of the House allow some time in the near future for a short discussion of Motion No. 84, dealing with the vital question of the motor industry in Scotland? In considering this, would he bear in mind that, up to date, not one minute of Parliamentary time has been allowed for discussion of Scotland's industrial problems, even though many of the Government's Measures have had a very severe effect on Scotland's economic position?
[That this House recognises that the establishing of two major motor manufacturing factories in Scotland's industrial belt in consequence of the actions of the previous administration has stimulated and diversified the Scottish economy and has made a substantial contribution to solving that nation's unemployment problem; and expresses the hope that the needs of Scotland and the desirability of consolidating firmly the motor industry in Scotland will be fully taken into account in any negotiations between the Government and the Ford Motor Company regarding the location of the company's proposed new factory.]
Yes, there are adequate precedents, but I know of no principle on which the Chair can, of its own notion, decide on these occasions that an hon. Member cannot address a question to the Leader of the House. Until an hon. Member does raise his question, I do not know what is in it—that is the trouble.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Do not supplementary questions that are addressed to the Leader of the House on these occasions follow exactly the same rules or the same precedents as apply to any supplementary question to any Answer given by the Prime Minister, and has it not frequently happened that the Speaker, when there have been an excessive number of supplementary questions addressed to the Leader of the House on business for the following weeks, has said, "We must get on with business. We have had enough supplementary questions", and has drawn that part of the proceedings to a close?
I beg hon. Members to get on. I am sure that what the right hon. Gentleman says to me is right—I indicated in the last Parliament that I would do that. I do not want to do that—I would rather rely on the House to get on with its business.
Will the Leader of the House consider a debate on Motion No. 80, if not next week then very soon afterwards? At this moment the Foreign Secretary is away in Brussels, and many hon. Members feel that before any discussions take place on the European Common Market the House would like to discuss our judicial, constitutional and economic relationships with the other members, and with other partners in the Commonwealth?
[That this House calls for a two-day debate, firstly, to reconsider the revision of the Statute of Westminster, secondly, to consider what should be its permanent relationship with all Commonwealth Parliaments, and, thirdly, whether it would wish to be part of a Permanent Commonwealth Assembly before Her Majesty's Government attempts to renegotiate Great Britain's irrevocable federal status within Europe.]
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Referring to the Ruling you have just given, would it not be possible, by putting down Motions, to raise enough business every Thursday to prevent the normal business of the House being carried through? Would you give careful consideration to this point, because it might frustrate the business of Parliament if a new method of sabotage of this kind could be used?
Some point of the procedure is being abused nearly all the time. Before we get to the extreme situation the right hon. Gentleman contemplates, I have not the slightest doubt that the House will deal with it. I do wish that the House would get on now.
I hope that merely because I am late in rising I shall not be thought to be trying to sabotage the business of the House. Would the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind, in coming to a conclusion, that when the Secretary of State for Defence spoke the other day it was not a question of his not having the time to make a statement about the aircraft in question. He categorically stated—