Business of the House

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th November 1966.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley 12:00 am, 24th November 1966

May I ask the Leader of the House to state the business of the House for next week?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

Yes, Sir. The business for next week will be as follows:

MONDAY, 28TH NOVEMBER—Debate on a Motion to take note of the First and Second Reports from the Committee of Public Accounts, 1966–67.

TUESDAY, 29TH NOVEMBER—Progress on the remaining stages of the London Government Bill.

WEDNESDAY, 30TH NOVEMBER—Debate on Economic Affairs.

THURSDAY, 1ST DECEMBER—Supply [5th Allotted day]: Committee, when the debate on Economic Affairs will be concluded.

Second Reading of the Bus Fuel Grants Bill.

FRIDAY, 2ND DECEMBER—Private Members' Bills.

MONDAY, 5TH DECEMBER—The proposed business will be: Supply [6th Allotted day]: Committee.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

First, can the Leader of the House give us any more information yet about the possible timing of a statement on Rhodesia and the debate to follow it which has been promised?

Second, on the London Government Bill, set down for Tuesday, as a good many Amendments have been tabled, I do not see how it can be completed in the one day which the Leader of the House has allotted to it.

Third, on Orders under the Prices and Incomes Act, the right hon. Gentleman will remember that we put to him that we attached great importance to these and we asked that they should come as the first Order of the Day. The Leader of the House said that he would discuss this through the usual channels, which he has done, but he has not been able to meet us on the question of the particular Order regarding laundry prices. There are other very important Orders on the Order Paper. Will he reconsider this matter and give an assurance that those to which we attach great importance will be taken as the first Order of the Day?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

On Rhodesia, all I can say is that we expect a statement by the Prime Minister early next week. I think that we ought to consult through the usual channels the moment we have that statement to see when the debate should take place.

On the London Government Bill, we are, perhaps, a little more optimistic than the Leader of the Opposition is. We had better see how we go, and we might discuss it afterwards.

On the Orders, I recognise the difficulty. There are really two groups, and there might be some other Orders as well coming along. On the Prices and Incomes Orders, we have to bear in mind that next week we are to have a two-day debate on economic affairs, when the issue can be discussed all over again. I think that we ought to see the Orders more in proportion in relation to that debate and the two days to be devoted to it, and we can, I think, regard them as normal business for after 10 o'clock.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

We cannot take a general debate on economic affairs as being a substitute for a debate on particular Orders laid by the Government. We must press the Leader of the House that, when these Orders are of importance, the Government should give time for them to be taken as the first Order of the Day and not late at night, after other business.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

This is a matter which we ought to consider, and I shall certainly discuss it through the usual channels, but my present view is that the issues involved in the Orders will undoubtedly be in order during those two days. This seems to me to be the point we ought to bear in mind.

Photo of Mr Barnett Janner Mr Barnett Janner , Leicester North West

Has my right hon. Friend's attention been drawn to Motion No. 269, put down by my hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Renée Short) and signed by many other hon. Members, including myself? In view of the very serious situation which has arisen in Germany, in spite of the denials of the neo-Nazi party there that it has no sinister intents, will my right hon. Friend see that we have an early debate, because precisely the same kind of statement was put out by the Nazis when they came into power, with disastrous results for civilisation?

[That this House, gravely concerned at the evidence of the rise of neo-Nazism in West Germany in the recent elections in Hesse and Bavaria, calls upon Her Majesty's Government to seek urgent discussions with the Governments of France, the Soviet Union and the United States of America with a view to makingjoint representations to the West German Government about ways and means of dealing with the Nazi threat.]

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I agree with my hon. Friend that anyone who remembers the events of the 1920s, when the Nazis were a negligible party in precisely that part of Bavaria, has a very macabre feeling of seeing what looks like history repeating itself. But I do not think that one should jump to that conclusion.

We are to have, I believe, a two-day debate on foreign affairs, and this would seem to me to be a suitable subject for that occasion. On the particular proposal which is made in the Motion for dealing with this problem, it does not seem that that is the only or the right way of solving it.

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Worcestershire South

Has the Leader of the House observed that he has carefully and calculatedly arranged the debate on economic affairs on next Wednesday and Thursday at times to coincide precisely with the immersion of 12 Tories upstairs in Standing Committee D, each one of whom would wish to take part in this important debate but who will be tied in that Committee from 4 p.m. till 10 p.m., or later, on each of those days? Is not this a deliberate and undemocratic attempt to muzzle my hon. Friends and myself?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

If it were deliberate, it would be a deliberate act of co-operation between the usual channels, because one of the days, the second day, belongs to the Opposition.

Photo of Mr Stan Orme Mr Stan Orme , Salford West

Many of us on this side welcome the announcement of the economic debate next week because we shall then be able to discuss the seriously deteriorating economic situation, but will the debate also cover the new White Paper on severe restraint, or when are we to have that discussed?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

That will be in order. The debate will range wide because we shall not have a Motion on the first day. I do not yet know how the Opposition will use their time, but I would suggest, with your consent, Mr. Speaker, that the debate will certainly cover the White Paper.

Photo of Mr Tufton Beamish Mr Tufton Beamish , Lewes

Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that the House will not be rushed into a debate on Rhodesia until the White Paper has been available for study for at least three or four days, and also give an assurance that there will be no reference of any aspect of this situation to the United Nations until the White Paper has been debated in both Houses?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

We had better wait until we have the statement next week, and we had better discuss through the usual channels what is the best way of reconciling all the interests concerned in getting the right time for the debate. I am not absolutely sure that the Opposition have made up their mind when would be the most favourable moment for a debate. I think that we could find that out more easily next week when we have heard the statement.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

The Leader of the House has given very specific undertakings to the House on this matter already, and I am sure that there cannot be any question of moving away from those undertakings. We made our position quite clear in previous exchanges across the Floor. Of course, we want to hear the Prime Minister's statement and see the White Paper before we can actually settle the time of a debate.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

If we can fix a debate, we shall certainly fix it at a time in accordance with all the pledges I have made. I have said that perfectly clearly.

Photo of Mr Alf Morris Mr Alf Morris , Manchester Wythenshawe

Can my right hon. Friend tell us what has happened to the censure debate on the Government's attitude to free enterprise which the Opposition were talking about with so much huff and puff about a fortnight ago.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

It was a debate which both sides of the House were looking forward to. No doubt, the Opposition will choose another day to put it down and once more give us the opportunity.

Photo of Mr David Webster Mr David Webster , Weston-Super-Mare

On the subject of huff and puff, will the Leader of the House give greater facilities for the Minister of Transport to answer Questions, as there were 85 Oral Questions down to her yesterday which remained unanswered orally and she has a preference for making statements outside the House rather than in it?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

If the hon. Gentleman is serious about that, I can assure him that the question of the order and arrangement of Questions is one which we settle for the convenience of the House. I am prepared to consider this through the usual channels.

Photo of Mr Paul Rose Mr Paul Rose , Manchester, Blackley

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that there has been no debate in the House on sporting and recreational facilities since December. 1964, and will he provide time—at least one full day—for a debate on the last annual Report of the National Sports Council?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

This is a subject on which there is some demand in the House, but I suggest that it is also a subject on which private Members might well use their enterprise and initiative to get some time for themselves on it.

Photo of Mr Gordon Campbell Mr Gordon Campbell , Moray and Nairnshire

Will the Leader of House consider moving from Wednesday to Monday Questions either to himself or the Attorney-General, because both Ministers are receiving a great many at present, thus seriously reducing the number answered by Ministers at the top of the list? Will he keep in mind particularly the fact that Ministers answering at No. 35 on a Monday are receiving few Questions and one of them, the Paymaster-General, gives a very short answer?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I am always prepared to consider the organisation of Question Time in order to improve it for the convenience of hon. Members.

Photo of Mr Hugh Jenkins Mr Hugh Jenkins , Wandsworth Putney

Will my right hon. Friend answer two questions? First, when may we expect to see the Bill on leasehold reform? Second, will he consider Motion No. 244 on the Order Paper, on the Report of the Monopolies Commission on Films, and give time for a debate on this important subject?

[That this House, having considered the report of the Monopolies Commission on Films, notes the findings that a monopoly exists and that it operates against the public interest, and urges the Government to follow the logic of these findings which the Commission itself has failed to do and to serve the public interest by taking sufficent powers of control and/or share of ownership in the industry to free it from domination by the Rank/ABC monopoly.]

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

On the second point, the Report of the Monopolies Commission on Films, I do not see an immediate prospect of a debate. On leasehold reform, the Bill is advancing very nicely and it will be published in due course.

Photo of Mr Hugh Jenkins Mr Hugh Jenkins , Wandsworth Putney

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I do not recall my right hon. Friend giving me an answer to my last question. "In due course" is not an answer.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I repeat what I said, that preparation of the Bill is going very well and that in due course it will be published. I cannot give my hon. Friend a specific date for its publication.

Photo of Mr Julian Ridsdale Mr Julian Ridsdale , Harwich

Can we have an early debate on local government administration? The Treasury stated on Tuesday that local government employees had increased in number by 159,047 since the right hon. Gentleman became a Minister.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

If the hon. Gentleman had wanted to make that point, there was an opportunity on the Second Reading of the Local Government Bill, 10 days ago. We have had quite a number of local government debates. Hon Members should seize opportunities to speak in them.

Photo of Mr Brian Parkyn Mr Brian Parkyn , Bedford

In view of the expansion of the responsibilities of the Ministry of Technology and the proposed further expansion, can we have an early debate on science and technology?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I am prepared to consider this as a possibility, but I cannot offer any prospects of an early debate—not, indeed, before Christmas.

Photo of Rear-Admiral Morgan Morgan-Giles Rear-Admiral Morgan Morgan-Giles , Winchester

Will the right hon. Gentleman answer the point put by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lewes (Sir T. Beamish) about the assurance that the Rhodesian problem will not be referred to the United Nations before it is debated in both Houses?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I want to make perfectly clear what I said. I said that immediately the Prime Minister has made his statement we shall seek, if the Opposition wish, to arrange a debate at the earliest possible moment. We shall arrange a debate if we are able to do it before any question of the reference to the United Nations comes.

Photo of Mr Eric Lubbock Mr Eric Lubbock , Orpington

Approximately, when does the right hon. Gentleman expect to make a statement on the establishment of the new specialist Committees?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I had hoped to make the statement in the debate on procedure, which would have come earlier had it not been for certain other pressing debates, but I hope that it will come as soon as possible.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , West Lothian

Has my right hon. Friend considered Motion No. 264, concerning Black Rod? What action does he propose to take?

[That this House, mindful of the limited opportunities for hon. Members to speak in major debates, calls on the Leader of the House to request the Leader of the Other Place to make arrangements to present Her Majesty's Commission to the Commons at times previously agreed to suit the convenience of hon. Members.]

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I am hoping to make a statement on that subject in the debate on procedure.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

May I return to the subject of Rhodesia? Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that whatever other considerations arise, the primary consideration must be a debate in this House after proper consideration of the statement and the White Paper before any decision is taken by the Government?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I will make my statement again. If we can do it in our time, I think I can give the assurance that we will have it as early as possible before a decision is taken. But it will be an occasion of our doing it in the time we want to do it.

Photo of Mr Reginald Maudling Mr Reginald Maudling , Barnet

Does that over-ride the requirements of the House of Commons.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

No. It is a question of time-tabling. If the Opposition are to require a later time period more difficult for us, and insist on postponement of the debate, it will be difficult to fit it in, but if they will have it as early as we would like it I can keep the assurance; it would however depend on having it in the time we would wish for it.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

The right hon. Gentleman has always said that it will be possible for the House to debate the matter before action is taken in the United Nations. But, at the same time, the debate, as far as the House is concerned, must take place after the House has had time for proper consideration of the Prime Minister's statement and the White Paper. Provided that the right hon. Gentleman accepts both of these, there need be no difficulty.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I do not see what we are bickering about. I have made it clear that, if that is so, there is no difficulty.

Photo of Mr Eric Heffer Mr Eric Heffer , Liverpool, Walton

Since there is growing monopolisation of the Press, and danger of its becoming concentrated in the hands of one person, can we have an assurance that there will be an early debate on the subject?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I do not think that I can give an assurance of an early debate. We had better see what happens before we decide whether we want to debate it.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Chigwell

Having regard to the requests for a future debate on Rhodesia, and appreciating what the right hon. Gentleman has said, may I ask whether the Prime Minister did not say yesterday that he supposed, or expected, or hoped that there will be some finality in the exchanges with Salisbury by the end of this week? Therefore, in view of the undertakings that have been given, are we to suppose that no further action in the matter will be taken by the Government in anticipation of the debate? That is the problem that is worrying many of us on both sides. Could the right hon. Gentleman clarify the position?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I do not think that there is need of clarification. The position is clear. I have given an assurance that, if we can fix it in our time, we will fix it as soon as possible and do it before the debate. This assurance stands. Provided that the Opposition are prepared to debate it in a reasonably short time after the statement, there is no difficulty.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

We must be quite clear on this, because it is a matter of the utmost importance. What the House must have is full and proper time for consideration of the Prime Minister's statement after it is made and consideration of the White Paper after it is published before there is a debate. It is not a question of just being prepared to have it in the Government's time without that proper consideration. This is essential.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

There will be a statement and there will be time for consideration of the White Paper and the debate will take place as soon as possible after the statement has been made. If, despite this, the Opposition want a longer time, that is something I will not accept.

Photo of Mr Peter Archer Mr Peter Archer , Rowley Regis and Tipton

Bearing in mind the publication of the Church report on putting asunder and the Royal Commission recommendations, will the right hon. Gentleman give an opportunity to debate divorce and family law, or time for the Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Pontypool (Mr. Abse)?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

We had better wait and see what happens to that Bill.

Photo of Sir Harmar Nicholls Sir Harmar Nicholls , Peterborough

The right hon. Gentleman has caused confusion on the question of the Rhodesian debate. The normal practice, as I understand it, in such matters, is to prepare a White Paper, issue it and have a statement and then a normal discussion between the usual channels to agree on the appropriate time that should elapse before the debate. The way that the right hon. Gentleman has presented his case gives the impression that something rather different from that normal practice is to take place. He gives the impression that he has a keen idea of the subject of the debate before we debate it.

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. We must have questions, not statements.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I have a keen idea of the subject of the debate and of its importance, but I also get the impression that there are really divided views opposite. I thought that I had made it absolutely clear that, if he were to have a statement, as soon as possible after the statement, with due time to consider the White Paper, we would have a debate. If that is what the Opposition want, that is what they can have next week. We will rearrange business for them and have a debate.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

The right hon. Gentleman says that he is to have the debate next week, whether or not there is time—[Interruption.] The right hon. Gentleman has said clearly that he can rearrange the business for next week and that can only mean that, regardless of whether the House regards that as being a proper time for consideration, he is determined to have the debate next week. That is what has emerged from the exchanges.

I put it to the right hon. Gentleman clearly that we must await publication of the White Paper to see its scale and the documents, and that right hon. and hon. Members should have proper time to consider it and, if necessary, discuss it among themselves before there is a debate.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

The right hon. Gentleman can put that to me, but I put this to him: what the Opposition cannot do is to dictate that what we have to do is to wait as long as they wish for a debate. That is totally unreasonable, and I reject it.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

No one takes up the position that the Opposition can dictate, but there are well-established traditions about what is a reasonable time for consideration of a Government White Paper in an instance such as this. The whole House has been extraordinarily cooperative with the right hon. Gentleman in not pressing for a debate while these vital talks are going on. If the Government are to publish conclusions in the White Paper, it is only reasonable that the House should have proper time to consider them before the debate.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

Proper time will be given, but what the Opposition cannot do is to dictate the Government's policy or the timing of its actions.

Several Hon. Members:

Several Hon. Members rose

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. The hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) will not be called for a second business question.

Photo of Mr Frederic Bennett Mr Frederic Bennett , Torquay

To set our minds at rest on the matter, would the right hon. Gentleman state what, in his view, judging by precedents, would be a reasonable time for consideration of a White Paper?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

If that is what I have been asked specifically, on the afternoon of the statement, I shall discuss it.

Photo of Mr Michael Foot Mr Michael Foot , Ebbw Vale

Will my right hon. Friend take into account that both sides of the House have been extremely patient on this subject and that what some of us would regard as quite improper and injurious to the interests of this country is that, following a breakdown—if there is a breakdown—of the talks, and the publication of the White Paper, there should be a long interval in which the country's policy was unknown? This could be most damaging. It appears to many of us that that is what the Opposition desire.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for putting the matter so clearly.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

As the right hon. Gentleman has endorsed the view of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot), I flatly deny that what the hon. Gentleman said is the case. The impression we are getting from the right hon. Gentleman is that he is trying to bounce the House into a debate without even 48 hours in which to consider a White Paper of the utmost importance. If the Prime Minister is to make a statement, presumably he will indicate the Government's policy in any case. It would not be unusual for him to do so. We must have proper time to consider it. The Opposition will be perfectly reasonable about the amount of that time, but we are not going to be stampeded into a rush debate without proper time to consider it.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry

In view of the recent correspondence between the National Executive of the Labour Party and the Union of Shop Distributive and Allied Workers concerning the control of the investment policies of insurance companies, might we expect next week either a White Paper or a statement from the Government on their proposals to secure greater control over the investment policies of the pension funds of private insurance companies?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I should think it unlikely that any statement would be issued next week.

Photo of Mr Benjamin Whitaker Mr Benjamin Whitaker , Hampstead

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the overwhelming majority of the House has perfectly clear principles on the Rhodesian issue, that any normally educated person can read a White Paper in 24 hours, and that we on this side of the House do not need three days in which to paper over cracks in a complete chaos of principle on this important issue?

Mr. Gresham Cooke:

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen item No. 19 in the Orders of the Day published this morning, in which my hon. Friends and I ask that it be an Instruction to Standing Committee E to have power to make provision in the Road Safety Bill for any matter with respect to road safety?

Is he aware that the Long Title of the Bill is so tightly drawn that only subjects relating to drink and driving and heavy vehicles can be discussed and that subjects of general road safety are being ruled out of order, and—

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

Order. The hon. Gentleman can ask questions only about the business of the House.

Mr. Gresham Cooke:

I was asking the right hon. Gentleman to provide time to discuss that Motion, Sir.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

This is a subject which it would be easier for the hon. Gentleman to discuss with me not across the Floor of the House. I shall certainly listen to what he has to say to see whether I can find a way out of the difficulty.

Photo of Mr Paul Channon Mr Paul Channon , Southend West

If we are to debate a series of important Government Orders can the Leader of the House vary his practice and tell us during the business statement each Thursday what Orders we are to discuss in the following week and on what days they will be debated?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I always give the business for each day. We did not have any Orders this week. There is no Order down for debate on Monday. There is to be a Prayer, but not an Order.

Photo of Mr John Temple Mr John Temple , City of Chester

Recognising the extreme complexity of the rate support grant Order which will be brought before the House very shortly, will the right hon. Gentleman give an undertaking that there will be at least 10 days between the publication of that Order and the debate on it?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I would like notice of that question. It is a reasonable request to have adequate time and I will certainly look into it.