Business of the House

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd June 1967.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley 12:00 am, 22nd June 1967

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, 26TH JUNE—In the morning—

Second Reading of the Public Records Bill [Lords]. Second Reading of the Advertisements (Hire Purchase) Bill [Lords] and of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill [Lords], which are consolidation Measures.

Remaining stages of the Bermuda Constitution Bill.

In the afternoon—

Supply [21st Allotted Day]: Debate on The Mounting Deficit on British Railways, which will arise on an Opposition Motion.

At seven o'clock, opposed Private Business as set down by the Chairman of Ways and Means.

Afterwards, progress on the Anchors and Chain Cables Bill.

TUESDAY, 27TH JUNE—Report stage of the Finance (No. 2) Bill.

WEDNESDAY, 28TH JUNE—In the morning—

Debate, moved by the Liberal Party, on the consequences of the Television Act, 1964, which will arise on a Motion for the Adjournment of the House.

In the afternoon—

Completion of the Report stage of the Finance (No. 2) Bill, which it is hoped will be obtained in time to allow consideration of the remaining stages of the Aden, Perim and Kuria Muria Islands Bill.

THURSDAY, 29TH JUNE—Supply [22nd Allotted Day]:

Debate on National Airport Policy, which will arise on an Opposition Motion.

Afterwards, the Government propose to facilitate further consideration of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill.

Hon. Members:

At ten o'clock?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

At ten o'clock on Thursday. [HON. MEMBERS: "Disgraceful."] In case the House did not hear I will repeat: afterwards, the Government propose to facilitate further consideration of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill.

FRIDAY, 30TH JUNEThird Reading of the Finance (No. 2) Bill.

Remaining stages of the Public Works Loans (No. 2) Bill.

Lords Amendments to the Marine &c. Broadcasting (Offences) Bill.

MONDAY, 3RD JULY—The proposed business will be:

In the morning—

Remaining stages of the Advertisements (Hire Purchase) Bill [Lords] and of the Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill [Lords], which are consolidation Measures.

In the afternoon—

Private Members' Motions until seven o'clock.

Afterwards, Second Reading of the National Insurance (No. 2) Bill.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

The Leader of the House will recall that during the Middle East crisis he promised the House a debate when the moment was appropriate. Is he aware that the House would, I think, like to have a debate in the near future and that it would be fruitful and profitable to have it?

In the meantime, however, there are some individual subjects about which we would like to have statements, mainly from a Foreign Office Minister, in particular concerning the closure of the Suez Canal, the position of the four British ships in the Great Bitter Lake, what is being done to deny the continuing slander concerning the alleged participation of British troops in the Middle East conflict, and, finally, what arrangements are being made for handling the problems of British subjects who are now refugees from Middle East countries and are back in Britain.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I assure the Leader of the Opposition that the question of a debate is now simply a matter for discussion through the usual channels as to the right time at which to hold it. We must watch the situation very carefully.

With regard to the three issues on which the right hon. Gentleman would like to have statements, I passed on the messages last week. There will be a statement on the Suez Canal as soon as possible. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will, I think, be back by the middle of next week.

As to the second of the other subjects, I think that when the right hon. Gentleman has time to read the copy of my right hon. Friend's speech in the Library he will see that the Foreign Secretary devoted a great deal of that speech at the United Nations to the very subject of slander. On the third subject, I will ask for a statement as soon as possible.

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

My right hon. Friend has probably heard that my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) proposes to raise on the Adjournment the subject of the Foreign Secretary's speech vis-á-vis the Middle East situation. Without wishing to prejudice the rights of my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington, I would like to suggest to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House that the House should be entitled to a debate of longer duration than half an hour and that we should have an early indication of when we shall have the debate.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

My right hon. Friend probably listened, as I did, to the interchange by question and answer on this matter. I would have thought that until right hon. and hon. Members had time to study the text of the speech of my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary it would be improper to discuss how long a debate we need, if we need it at all.

On the whole question of the Middle East situation, however, including, of course, what is going on in New York, I assure the House that we will have a debate when it is right to have it.

Photo of Mr Quintin Hogg Mr Quintin Hogg , St Marylebone

I was not a little disturbed to hear the right hon. Gentleman say that further consideration of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill would take place at ten o'clock at night—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—next Thursday. While I fully realise the reasons which have led the Government to give time for the further consideration of the Bill, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he really thinks that a Private Member's Bill of this importance ought to be discussed throughout the hours of night, as, apparently, would be the case? Does he not think he is doing Parliament a real disservice by seeking to impose this upon the House?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

There is no question of imposing anything on the House. I gave an assurance that facilities would be provided by the Government for the further consideration of the Measure. We suggest that it should be considered on Thursday evening. I do not follow the argument that somehow it is improper to spend time at night on a Private Member's Bill, on an important Bill. Many other important Measures are discussed at that time and I cannot see that it is less relevant to consider this than other important Measures then.

Photo of Mr Stan Orme Mr Stan Orme , Salford West

Does my right hon. Friend appreciate that, rather than running away from the Bill as the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) is doing, many on this side of the House want to see it carried through? But we cannot understand why further consideration should start at ten o'clock on Thursday, because we understood, originally, that it was to be on 3rd July at seven o'clock. Why move it to next Thursday at night? There will not be sufficient time to discuss the Bill.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

The question of how exactly to arrange the programme is a complicated one—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] We have made it clear that we would provide facilities for the Bill as far as we could, subject to getting Government business. This seems to us a convenient time to have that Bill further considered. Let me repeat, that the Government are concerned with giving the House an opportunity to come to a decision on this important matter. It is my impression that unless the House has quite a long time for it it will be unable to come to a decision. Hence, we are providing for the possibility of a longish debate.

Photo of Mr Norman St John-Stevas Mr Norman St John-Stevas , Chelmsford

Is not the point at issue here that the Leader of the House, in granting the time, has not considered the convenience of the overwhelming majority of private Members, whatever their views on the Bill, and that it is this which he has failed to do?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I have yet to be convinced that it is overwhelmingly against the convenience of private Members to debate the Bill on Thursday evening.

Photo of Mr David Weitzman Mr David Weitzman , Stoke Newington and Hackney North

Further to the request to have a debate on the Middle East, has my right hon. Friend's attention been drawn to Motion No. 568, signed by over 150 Members? Will opportunity be given to the House to afford realistic support for Israel in the cause of peace and justice, and will time be provided for those of us who utterly repudiate the statement of the Foreign Secretary that Israel should withdraw or give up any part of Jerusalem?

[That this House, recognising the right of Israel, by her own force of arms, to meet an avowed threat to her existence and, whilst in no way desiring to humiliate the Arab States in the present military situation or in any way to hinder a permanent settlement which recognises the true rights of all parties, places on record its view that the people of the State of Israel has the right to live without any breach of its territorial integrity, the right to freedom of access to all international waterways including the Suez Canal and the cessation of unfair economic practices.]

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I can only assure my hon. and learned Friend that in any debate which is held he will have an opportunity to catch the Speaker's eye.

Photo of Mr Quintin Hogg Mr Quintin Hogg , St Marylebone

Reverting for a moment to the subject which has interested more hon. Members than one, is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is no part of my intention to hold up the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill, or obstruct it in any way, but will he not consider that the real convenience of private Members on a Private Member's Bill is not to sit through the hours of night? On Government business, the Government have the Whips, and their own facilities, but is it not really a mockery to try to force private Members' legislation through like this?

Hon. Members:

Hear, hear.

Hon. Members:

Resign.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I think that hon. Gentlemen opposite who are—

Hon. Members:

Resign.

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

Order. Noise does not help at all.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I would have hoped that we could have discussed this question of the timetabling of the Bill, which is not an easy question, in an objective way and quietly. I know that the right hon. and learned Gentleman and I on this are sincere and serious. We are concerned with something difficult to achieve. Frankly, the chances of getting a decision on the Bill require that quite a lot of time should be available, and I really do not see how we can hope to get a decision on the Bill unless we set it down at a time when it is possible for those who wish to do so to discuss it at length.

Photo of Mr John Mendelson Mr John Mendelson , Penistone

Does my right hon. Friend recall the assurance given by the President of the Board of Trade that he would have a searching investigation into the performance of airline companies, including charter companies, and that when he was pressed to allow publication of the results of the investigation he said that he would approve of that? Is my right hon Friend aware that since then there have been rumours that the President of the Board of Trade intends to hold this investigation in secret, and preclude outside organisations from giving evidence? Would my right hon. Friend urge the President of the Board of Trade to make an early statement so that the views of the House may be brought out and considered?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I will certainly draw that to the attention of my right hon. Friend.

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Worcestershire South

Following the supplementary by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition about Middle East matters, may I ask the Leader of the House whether he is aware that there is widespread anxiety concerning oil supplies? Shall we have a statement on Tuesday in reply to my Question about rationing of petrol becoming necessary and about Government proposals for putting up the price of petrol? Can we be promised that statement for Tuesday?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I do not think that the implications of the question should be represented to make it seem that such a serious situation exists. I will tell my right hon. Friend about the desire of the hon. Gentleman for a statement, but we shall not have a statement on oil unless it is urgent and necessary.

Photo of Mr Alf Morris Mr Alf Morris , Manchester Wythenshawe

My right hon. Friend will be aware that there is much anxiety on both sides of the House about the deliberations of the Specialist Committee on Agriculture, especially in view of the subject matter of those deliberations. Can he tell the House when we are likely to have a report and be able to debate the report from that Specialist Committee, and can he confirm that the facilities required for it have been made available?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

If I understand my hon. Friend aright, he has raised two distinct questions. He is asking whether there is a chance of debating the activities of the Committee. To that, I must reply that I have not had that request before and have not, therefore, considered the likelihood of doing so. As I understand, the Committee will make a report to the House, and then we can see what should be done.

As to the other question, the obtaining of facilities, this is something on which discussions are going on. This is one of the questions on which I was hoping that we could get a steering committee of the Chairmen of the Specialist Committees so that we should be able to work out a mode of operation both for travelling abroad and for research. There are difficulties here which have to be threshed out.

Photo of Mr William Deedes Mr William Deedes , Ashford

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that hon. Members on both sides, regardless of their feelings about the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill, deplore the decision which he has reached about the timing of the debate next week? [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Before he finds himself stuck with this proposition, would he agree now to reconsider it?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I am surprised that that view should be expressed by the right hon. Gentleman, that there is a general feeling that we should not debate the Bill late at night. I cannot help saying to the right hon. Gentleman that the Bill is a matter on which the Government remain neutral, and have only offered to give time—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Yes. The opposition to this proposal tends to come from those who oppose the Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I have got the impression from my part of the House—

Hon. Members:

Withdraw. Resign.

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

Order. Let us be reasonable.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

My impression is that there are hon. Gentlemen who would like us to start at seven o'clock rather than ten o'clock. Do they believe that by that means we should avoid a lengthy sitting? That is something we could consider as a possibility, but I do not want the House to be under any illusion: if we are to give the House a reasonable chance of a decision, one way or another, on the Bill, quite a lot of time will have to be spent on it.

Photo of Mr James Hamilton Mr James Hamilton , Fermanagh and South Tyrone

As one of those hon. Members who will be here on Thursday night when we discuss the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he does not agree that the timing is grossly unfair to Scottish Members, who want to be here that evening to discuss the Bill but have to be back in their constituencies? Does he not further agree that this is no longer a Private Member's Bill, as the Government have given it every recognition?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

To suggest that this is not a Private Member's Bill is absurd. It is a Private Member's Bill to which the Government have given the one facility of some time so that a decision can be reached one way or another. My hon. Friend is raising the issue not of a late sitting, but the night of a late sitting, and says that Scottish Members would prefer another night. We are discussing the Third Reading of the Finance Bill on the Friday, and I am sure that my hon. Friend will be here for that debate.

Photo of Mr Robin Turton Mr Robin Turton , Thirsk and Malton

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that when we debated the Report of the Committee on Procedure he gave an undertaking that if he took Monday and Wednesday mornings for business he would ensure that the House would rise at a reasonable hour on Thursdays? Is not his statement today a clear and definite breach of that undertaking?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that the assurance I gave was that we would seek, as far as possible, to get away early on Thursdays. It is true that as a result of this present arrangement, a larger number of hon. Members are unlikely to get away early on Thursday. I regret it, but occasionally it has to happen, especially at this time of year, when we have a great deal of business to get through before the Summer Recess.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

Is it not the ease that as the. Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill is private Members' business on Thursday next every hon. Member is free to go where he likes at ten o'clock and afterwards? That suits me very well, but will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that if the Bill is not obtained by ten o'clock on the Friday morning, further facilities will be given, preferably on a Monday morning?

On quite another matter, will my right hon. Friend give an undertaking to make a statement within the next week or two on the recruitment of Clerks to the Clerk's Department?

Several Hon. Members:

rose

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

Order. Business Question Time takes up time, so I hope that hon. Members will ask only one Business in one week.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I do not have a reply or statement to make in the immediate future on the recruitment of Clerks, but the Services Committee is still active in its consideration.

As for the first part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, I have a suspicion that he is trying to provoke and irritate me into making unwise statements. I will not indulge in hypothetical calculations of what will happen on Friday morning.

Photo of Dr Michael Winstanley Dr Michael Winstanley , Cheadle

May I refer to Motion No. 572, signed by hon. Members of ail parties, which criticises the Chief Secretary to the Treasury for withholding important information from the House in answer to a Parliamentary Question on registered disabled persons? Will the Leader of the House provide an opportunity for a debate, or at least see that his right hon. Friend makes a statement?

[That this House notes with regret the failure of the Chief Secretary to the Treasury to reveal to the House in answer to a Parliamentary Question on 13th June the fact that the percentage of registered disabled persons employed by Government departments has now fallen below the standard three per cent. prescribed by the Minister of Labour, and deplores the Government's failure to take effective steps to remedy the position.]

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I am grateful to the hon. Member for calling my attention to this Motion again, because last week, in replying to him, I gave the impression, no doubt misleadingly, that I thought it a Motion worthy of debate. Having studied it more closely I intensely repudiate the imputation against my right hon. Friend and think that the Motion is unworthy of debate.

Photo of Mr Hugh Jenkins Mr Hugh Jenkins , Wandsworth Putney

Is not my right hon. Friend aware that the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill will not be the only Bill that will not be completed by the Summer Recess unless it is debated at night? Will he give time for discussion of the Employment Agencies Bill, which is already in its Third Reading and needs to be brought to a conclusion?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

My hon. Friend is quite right to remind me of the fate of that Bill, which is an extremely useful Measure on which very slow progress is being made. I will consider ail the possibilities of getting time for that Bill.

Photo of Sir Ronald Bell Sir Ronald Bell , Buckinghamshire South

Will we be taking next week the Government Motion on the Lords Message relating to consolidation procedure, which was not reached last Monday? Further, will the right hon. Gentleman include Government Motions in his weekly statement of Business, as there is no other way in which hon. Members can discover that these Motions are being taken?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I am grateful to the hon. and learned Member for referring to the Lords Message. It is an important issue, and I will look into it. We were not intending to deal with it next week, but the week after we hope to do so.

Photo of Mr Frank Judd Mr Frank Judd , Portsmouth West

In view of the drastic cuts in the aid programme during the past year, now including the balance of payments position, can we have a debate, long overdue, on Government overseas aid and development?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I appreciate the interest, particularly on this side of the House, in overseas aid. I will certainly bear it in mind, but I must say that the Government have very little time during the remainder of the Session. Most of the time for general debate is in the hands of the Opposition, on Supply, but I will consider overseas aid as one of the issues for the very few hours we on our side have for general debate.

Photo of Mr Stephen Hastings Mr Stephen Hastings , Mid Bedfordshire

In view of the imminent and serious threat of the cancellation of the Anglo-French variable geometry aircraft, and the extremely serious implications there are for the Government's defence policy, such as that is, may I ask for an assurance that as soon as his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence has received the letter he says he expects, we shall have not only a full statement, but a debate as well?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I cannot give the hon. Member an assurance about a debate, because we had better wait to see the contents of the letter first. I can give the assurance that, as my right hon. Friend said yesterday, the moment he has received the letter and studied the situation anew, he will, if he thinks it suitable, make a statement to the House.

Photo of Mr Alex Lyon Mr Alex Lyon , City of York

Does my right hon. Friend recollect the assurance about a debate on overseas aid he has given on a number of occasions this year, similar to the assurance he has just given to my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, West (Mr. Judd)? Will he treat this as a matter of urgency, because this important topic has not been discussed this Session at all?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I cannot take this subject as one of urgency in the sense that it takes equal priority, for instance, with a debate on the Middle East. The trouble is that we have a number of really urgent issues of this kind which may take more time than I like, but I will say that, when we have got through the really urgent ones, this is a high priority subject which will receive serious attention.

Photo of Mr Eldon Griffiths Mr Eldon Griffiths , Bury St Edmunds

Can the Leader of the House say at what hour on Wednesday he expects the business on the Aden, Perim and Kuria Muria Bill to come forward? Since there are a number of Amendments, is he sure that there will be sufficient time to deal with the Bill in the evening hours?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

It is not for me to say how long it will take the House to discuss the Report stage of the Finance Bill—that matter is very much more in the hands of the hon. Gentleman's side than of mine—but we have discussed this point through the usual channels and we think that there is a very good chance of getting the business through that evening.

Photo of Mr Edwin Brooks Mr Edwin Brooks , Bebington

Can my right hon. Friend say whether we shall have an opportunity this Session to debate the Special Report of the Public Accounts Committee on the financial accounts of the universities?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I know the great interest there is in this subject. I wish that I could give my hon. Friend the kind of assurance he wants, but I cannot give him the assurance of a debate before the Summer Recess. I would not exclude its possibility during that part of the Session after the Summer Recess.

Photo of Mr Frederic Bennett Mr Frederic Bennett , Torquay

If the Leader of the House abides by his timing for the Private Member's Bill next Thursday, will he give an undertaking that, as it is a Private Member's Bill, the Government will not, during the night or the following morning, put on the Whip to end the debate at a time to suit the Government's convenience?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I need not repeat the assurance that the Government Whips will not be on, and that it will be a completely free debate.

Photo of Mr Frederic Bennett Mr Frederic Bennett , Torquay

Not even to end the debate?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

This is a completely free debate.

Photo of Mr Michael English Mr Michael English , Nottingham West

Will the Leader of the House say when he proposes to allow time for a debate on Cmnd. 3301 on the Legal and Constitutional Implications of United Kingdom Membership of the European Communities? Is he aware that deferment of this debate could give the impression that the Government regard their application as hopeless?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I agree that to a very ingenious mind that impression could be given, but to a really ingenious mind there is no impression that cannot be given.

Photo of Sir Knox Cunningham Sir Knox Cunningham , South Antrim

Will the Leader of the House consult his right hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary about the timetable for the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill on Thursday as, otherwise, it may mean that we will not be able to debate the Finance Bill on Friday morning?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I will certainly give personal attention to this problem, and discuss it with the Patronage Secretary.

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

Will my right hon. Friend remember that, a very considerable time ago, an undertaking was given that we would comply with and accede to the Convention on Genocide? As this matter has been raised on very many occasions, and particularly as one of the major events in regard to genocide took place in recent times—

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

Order. The hon. Member cannot argue the merits; he can ask for time to debate the matter.

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

With the greatest respect, Mr. Speaker, I am merely giving the reason why this matter should be brought on rapidly. Will my right hon. Friend take into consideration the fact that these things have happened recently? Will he introduce legislation now, so that the matter can be properly dealt with?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I cannot give any assurance on that in relation to the business for next week, or, indeed, before the Summer Recess. If my hon. Friend will talk to me about this matter, I will consider its urgency.

Photo of Mr John Rodgers Mr John Rodgers , Sevenoaks

In view of the very disturbed situation in Anguilla and St. Kitts, will the Leader of the House ask the Commonwealth Secretary to make a statement next week?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I shall certainly convey that request to my right hon. Friend.

Photo of Mr Hector Hughes Mr Hector Hughes , Aberdeen North

The Leader of the House referred in a rather indifferent way to the importance of the business for seven o'clock on Monday. Will he say whether or not that applies to the Brighton Marina Bill?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I am not sure what it does mean, but I am sure that it might be that Bill.

Photo of Mr Neil Marten Mr Neil Marten , Banbury

Am I to understand that we have to wait until the debate on the Middle East on Wednesday for a statement on the Suez Canal? Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that last week the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs said that he would report as soon as he had news about the blockage? Why have we no news about the blockage? What is the intelligence service doing? Why have we not had a statement about it?

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

This is Business question time. The hon. Member can ask for time for a debate.

Photo of Sir Arthur Harvey Sir Arthur Harvey , Macclesfield

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is grave concern among Jews in Britain about what the Foreign Secretary was supposed to say at the United Nations? If the Foreign Secretary is delayed in New York, will the Leader of the House see that another Minister makes a statement early next week, because there is great concern about this matter?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I should have thought that when the hon. Member studies carefully the Prime Minister's Answers to Questions today he will see that an important statement was made. This is a very important issue. I suggest that as soon as hon. Members have studied the text of the speech we can discuss through the usual channels the right way to handle the matter.

Photo of Mr Jasper More Mr Jasper More , Ludlow

If Government time is to be given for the abortion Bill, will the Leader of the House, in view of the debate facing us today, give time next week to my Bill on the freedom of the Press and the Official Secrets Act, which the Government have been blocking for months? I suggest that this could come in place of the Anchors and Chain Cables Bill.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

What we are concerned with in relation to the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Bill is not a Second Reading, but the completion of the later stages of the Bill.

Photo of Sir Spencer Summers Sir Spencer Summers , Aylesbury

Does, the Leader of the House realise that by his rigid adherence to his proposal for Thursday night's business he is giving the impression of being the servant of the Government instead of the servant of the House? To remove that unfair impression, will he reconsider this matter?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

It would be easy to say that I will do so, but I think that in terms of next week's business this is the best I can do. I shall certainly consider for the future whether there is a strong feeling that Thursday is the wrong day. I shall take each case on its merits, but, on the whole, I think that we had better keep the business for next week as it is.

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

In view of the right hon. Gentleman's answer about the Foreign Secretary's speech, and the fact that most hon. Members want to read it, will he consider publishing it in the OFFICIAL REPORT and not just placing it in the Library?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I have been studying it myself. The relevant passage in the speech is relatively short. I think that very little of it has not been published in the Press. I will consider whether it is possible to do what the right hon. and learned Gentleman asks, but I could not answer that question from here.

Photo of Mr Quintin Hogg Mr Quintin Hogg , St Marylebone

Since the right hon. Gentleman said that feeling about Thursday night's business was confined to those on one side of the merits of the Bill, will he accept from me that at least one hon. Member who prominently supports the Bill has made representations on this?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I very much hope that I did not create that impression. I know that opinion on this matter is not divided on party lines. I thought that criticism of my putting it down for Thursday evening was on the other side. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] That seems to be so from the noise hon. Members are making. That is not the important issue. The important issue is the merits of the case. This is not the only time when this kind of thing will happen. I am prepared, of course, to study generally the views of hon. Members and to study their convenience as far as I possibly can.

Photo of Mr Philip Goodhart Mr Philip Goodhart , Beckenham

Despite the friendly reaction last week by the Leader of the House to a request for a statement about British Government assistance to British citizens pushed out of Middle East countries, there has been no statement. Can the right hon. Gentleman give an absolute assurance that there will be a statement next week?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I think that this was the first question the Leader of the Opposition asked. I shall certainly bring it to the attention of the Commonwealth Secretary, because he regards it as an important issue.