With permission, Mr. Speaker, perhaps I may inform the House of the arrangements for next week.
MONDAY, 7TH MARCH—Supply [10th Allotted Day]: Report when, if the House agrees, the Questions will be put forthwith.
There will follow a debate on an Opposition Motion on Defence, which, subject to the House agreeing to take formally the Second Reading of the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill, will be continued on Tuesday, 8th March.
WEDNESDAY, 9TH MARCH—Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill: Remaining stages.
The day will be available for the discussion of topics which private Members may wish to raise. It may perhaps suit the convenience of the House to conclude the proceedings on the Bill at a reasonable hour.
THURSDAY, 10TH MARCH—The House will meet at 2.30 p.m.
Prorogation will follow immediately after Prayers.
My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade received this report on 27th February, a few days ago. It will not now be possible to publish the report before the Dissolution of the House. Nevertheless, my right hon. Friend is aware of the interest among hon. Members to see it as soon as possible, and he is making arrangements to lay a White Paper in dummy form. [Laughter.] This will enable the Report to be published and is the necessary procedure if the House wishes to have the Report. If the House does not want to receive the Report, there is no need for it to do so.
Would the right hon. Gentleman arrange for a statement next week to remove the anxiety which has been caused among all those who work in the aircraft industry and among the communities and the hon. Members of the areas concerned by the suggestion that, after consultation with the Government, B.O.A.C. has firmly decided to cancel its outstanding order for Super VC10s?
I will certainly convey the right hon. Gentleman's comments to my right hon. Friend. I cannot firmly promise a statement, but I will discuss the matter with my right hon. Friend.
May we take it from what the right hon. Gentleman has failed to say that the double taxation agreement with the United States will not be signed before 31st March, thus avoiding a debate on a most disastrous agreement?
Is my right hon. Friend aware that there has been a general welcome for the Prime Minister's suggestion that before decisions are taken on Britain's rôle in the 1970s, there should be a nation-wide debate? Will not the arrangements suggested by the Opposition for Monday and Tuesday ensure the decision being taken on strict party lines, with a three-line Whip, a way which will not reflect opinion in the country or in Parliament? Is not this attempt to fit these big issues into the framework of party politics lamentable evidence of the lack of good sense in the Opposition?
I note my hon. Friend's lack of interest in party politics. It is quite usual for the House of Commons to debate the Defence White Paper on two days. On this occasion, the Opposition are providing the time out of Supply time. This has been necessary because of the importance of getting Supply to permit the proceedings of the House to come to a conclusion. What the Prime Minister obviously had in mind was that these discussions would take place outside the House after Dissolution.
Will not the right hon. Gentleman make it absolutely plain that this was the Government's original proposal and that what the Opposition have done is just to fit in by providing Supply time? This is not the way for the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Mayhew) to work his way back.
I was sincerely of the opinion that this would have met with the wishes of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen from both sides of the House. If the House prefers to go through the night, so be it. I must advise the House that the Government will have to get the Third Reading of the Consolidated Fund Bill before Prorogation.
Will hon. Members be given access to the precincts of the Houses of Parliament on Friday of next week so that an opportunity for clearing up and removing papers—[Interruption.]—may be given to those hon. Members opposite who will not be returning.
I am sorry, I did not hear the last part of the hon. and learned Gentleman's question. The arrangement will be as usual. Should Her Majesty see fit to dissolve Parliament on Thursday evening of next week, there will be no Members of Parliament on Friday. Former Members will have the facility of coming within the precincts to collect mail and papers from their lockers, but not to conduct any business.
Would the Leader of the House consider giving time for an emergency debate on rates in view of the Prime Minister's rates proposals, which give no relief whatever to the vast majority of ratepayers this year and places them in a position of expecting at least 5 per cent. increases for the years which follow?
The hon. Gentleman will be aware that we were forced to give the last five days, because they were Supply days, to the Opposition. In accordance with custom, it is for the Opposition to choose subjects which they wish to discuss, rates or anything else. They could have raised this subject on any of those five days.
Will the Minister of Public Building and Works be making a statement next week about the Building Control Bill? Will the Leader of the House also ask him, in view of the concern which has been expressed, to say something about the overstocking of bricks in February, since the January figures look like being 700 million of overstocking, or enough bricks to build 47,000 houses?
There is no reason to publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT the legislation which falls because of the Dissolution of Parliament. If the hon. Gentleman would consult papers already in the Vote Office he will see which Bills will obtain the Royal Assent by Tuesday of next week, and by subtraction, will see those which will not.
Does the Leader of the House recall that his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister gave an undertaking on Tuesday to consult the Minister of Public Building and Works about the Building (First Amendment) Regulations, which are considered by a large number of hon. Members to be ultra vires? Can he say whether the Minister is to make a statement?
Can the Leader of the House say whether there will be an interim statement on the Wise Committee's Report on the subject of smallholdings? The Government said that this was received on 16th February and would be published almost immediately. I now learn that it is not to be published until after the General Election. What are the Government trying to hide?
I am certain that the Government are not trying to hide anything in this respect. I am not aware of the reason for the delay in publication, but I will inquire.
To return to the matter of the Super VC10s, will the Leader of the House represent to his right hon. Friend the Minister of Aviation the importance of making a statement in a form in which he can be questioned upon it in this House, and of not following the deplorable example of his predecessor by contriving to have it made in answer to a Written Question on a Friday?