Yes, Sir. As already announced, the general debate on the Budget Resolutions and the Economic Situation, will be brought to a conclusion on MONDAY, 12TH APRIL.
Second Reading of the Dangerous Drugs Bill [Lords], and the remaining stages of the Industrial and Provident Societies Bill [Lords], which are consolidation Measures.
I have few comments on the business for next week except to say that I hope that the last few words of the right hon. Gentleman do no. suggest that there is anything reprehensible in the Opposition moving a Motion of censure in what they consider to be the national interest and haling with a matter in which thousands of people are very much concerned.
We are quite prepared to give up a day of the Recess to debating an issue which we consider to be of concern to the national interest. I am bound to add that I think that it must convey to the House that the Government's business is in a pretty good mess if they cannot do it otherwise.
What does the right hon. Gentleman propose to do about Questions on Monday, 26th April?
The right hon. Gentleman will recall that on Tuesday evening I said that the Government would be prepared to find time for what was then the proposed Motion of censure by the Opposition, and that we have done. It has meant an adjustment in the time for the Recess. There is nothing sacrosanct about coming back on a Tuesday after the Easter Recess. We have come back on other days on other occasions, although certainly not for very many years.
It is felt that it would be in the best interests of the House to follow the roster of Questions for 12th April, which is Monday of next week, or anyone who subsequently had a Question would be disadvantaged. I have said before about the Government's business, and I now repeat, that we have enough business for five years.
Has my right hon. Friend noticed that more than 70 hon. Members have added their names to my Motion about appointments to watch committees? Is he aware that there is considerable concern throughout the country about this matter? Can he find some time so that we can discuss the Motion?
[That this House, taking note of and sharing the profound concern and misgivings of the borough police authorities in England and Wales as to the provision made in section 2 of the Police Act 1964 for the appointment of magistrates to Police authorities, calls upon the Secretary of State, pending the introduction of amending legislation, to amend the Police Act 1964 (Commencement No. 1) Order 1964 so that the provisions whereby the borough magistrates appoint one third of the watch committee shall not, asthereby provided, come into effect on 1st June, 1965.]
I promised on a previous occasion to draw this matter to the attention of my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary, which I have done. This proposal needs an amendment to legislation which has not yet been tried, and I think that it is the view of my right hon. and learned Friend that we should at least see how the new system works.
No, Sir. The order of Questions on Monday 26th April, will be precisely the same as on Monday, 12th April, that is to say, it will start with the Ministry of Labour, the Foreign Office and the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources. This is the only way in which it can possibly work without anyone being disadvantaged.
Will my right hon. Friend consider that it would be more convenient for Members who live outside London to sit on Good Friday rather than on Monday, 26th April? Can he say by what authority the Government and the Opposition Front Bench between them decided on the change in the rota of Ministers answering Questions? Would it not have been desirable, right and proper that the House should have been consulted before this decision was taken?
Having had a long experience in trying to work out Question rotas, I assure my hon. Friend that the worst possible thing would be for the House to try to decide how it should be done. This is an experiment. I am hoping that during the six weeks between Easter and Whitsun we shall reach every Minister at least once.
Lastly, I am sure that it is the wish of the whole House that we should not sit on Good Friday.
May I press the right hon. Gentleman to suspend the rule for today and on Monday because there are many hon. Members who want to speak in the Budget debate and, indeed, on Tuesday and Wednesday? Six hours—almost a whole day—have been occupied by four Front Bench speeches and the best of them—that of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition—took only 20 minutes.
Reverting to the order of Questions for 26th April, can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the repeat order which he has selected is in accordance with the precedent to which he referred and how old this precedent is?
May I have confirmation of the right hon. Gentleman's promise that there would be no other business going on in the House when we debate the Committee stage of the Murder (Abolition of the Death Penalty) Bill on Wednesday next week? Last Wednesday there were two Committees sitting and we had Divisions at the same time. Can the right hon. Gentleman see that this does not happen again?
Would the right hon. Gentleman convey to the Secretary of State for Defence that the debate on Tuesday will be much more enlightening if the full facts are given at the opening of the debate by the Government spokesman and we do not have to read them in he next day's newspapers or on the tape while the speech is being made?
In view of the breakdown of the negotiations in Vienna to get a uniform colour television agreement, is it the intention of the Postmaster-General to give the House some information next week on the prospects for the future?
Would the right hon. Gentleman have a look at early day Motion No. 119, which is about the transfer to the Exchequer of some of the rate burden in residential areas where there is not very much industry?
[That this House deplores the delay of the Government in bringing about an early transfer of at least part of the educational rate from the local authorities to the central Exchequer; draws the attention of the House to the burden this is placing on the retired and others, especially in areas with little industry; and urges the Government to take urgent action to remedy this.]
I cannot promise that there will be a debate in the near future, but I have already promised a debate on it. I thought at the time that we might take the Allen Report with it.
In connection with my Protection of Deer Bill, which aims to make stag hunting with hounds illegal, has my right hon. Friend noted that on the last two Fridays the only Member to shout "Object" to the Bill was an official Opposition Whip? Is this in accordance with the best traditions of the House on Private Members' Bills? If so, what will my right hon. Friend do about it?
I do not think that the question whether it is in accordance with practice relates to the business for next week. I do not know about the rest of it.
Is the Leader of the House aware that yesterday morning there was chaos throughout the Palace of Westminster? There was a Committee upstairs considering a Private Member's Bill and a Committee of the whole House was considering the Murder (Abolition of the Death Penalty) Bill. In view of this confusion, which was directly the responsibility of the Leader of the House who has made a muck of the Committee stage of the Murder (Abolition of the Death Penalty) Bill, will the right hon. Gentleman arrange for Standing Committee C to meet on Mondays at 10.30? After all, Members of the House are now paid adequately and there is no reason why they should not come back on Sundays, so that they might start work early on Mondays?
I understand the hon. Gentleman's difficulty. He wanted to be upstairs in Committee and downstairs in Committee at the same time. However, the Bill on which he was serving has, I understand, been Reported, so he will be quite free to come down here next Wednesday morning.
Reverting to the Wednesday morning when the Government business was taken through the House under the guise of a Private Member's Bill, will the right hon. Gentleman have a word with those nominally in charge of it and convey to them the fact that it arouses very deep-seated and genuinely felt feelings and that to move the Closure on every major and important Amendment at the earliest possible moment is not the right way to deal with a Bill of this kind?
Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that last Thursday I expressed anxiety that the statement on the TSR2 might be wrapped up in the Budget? He said to me that he could not understand why I had this anxiety and gave me an assurance that the statement on the TSR2 would be made in the House. It was, in fact, made in Committee and not in the House. I understood "in the House" to mean in the House—and there is a difference.
We are trying to deal with the question of business now. I gather that there is to be a Motion of censure, in which all that would seem to be relevant.
This is the last part of the Motion of censure. I should have thought that every detail of it could be adequately debated at that time. I gave an assurance that a statement would be made in the House, and it is perfectly true that when the House is in Committee within this place it is in Committee and not in the House. But I certainly meant here and not upstairs in Committee.
Reverting to the order of Questions to be answered by Ministers, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he is aware of the concern, particularly of Scottish Members, that the Secretary of State for Scotland would have less opportunity of answering Questions under the new system than he had in the past? Will my right hon. Friend give a guarantee that he will examine the matter after this period of Questions has passed?