Arising out of the last question to the Leader of the House, may I ask whether he is aware that there is a growing sense of anger and repulsion not only in the country at large, but in this House, at the Government's continued supply of arms to Nigeria and that many of us look at him to give a very early date for the debate, if not next week, then the week after?
The right hon. Gentleman must know that the House wants a debate on the specific issue of Biafra, and not to have it lost in a foreign affairs debate. That is the assurance we want now—an early debate. I do not see why it should not be next week—especially as the Parliament (No. 2) Bill is in seeming demise. Some of next week's business could be easily pushed forward.
I am glad that my right hon. Friend is promising that we shall have an opportunity of discussing the situation in Nigeria and Biafra. May I ask whether he will ask the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary to make a statement next week on the representations it is reported that he has made to the Federal Government in Nigeria about the bombing in Biafra, and to tell the House what those representations were and what was the reply from the Federal Government?
Now that the Budget day has been announced, could the right hon. Gentleman arrange for a statement next week, or, better still, could he tell us now, what the Government's plans are for taking the subsequent stages of the Finance Bill, and the key debates linked with them?
It might be convenient to the House if I say that it has been thought that we could have a variation of last year's experiment, when the Bill went upstairs for the whole of the Committee stage. This year, we hope that it will be possible to deal with a number of issues upstairs, while seeking to reserve for the Floor of the House a selected number of topics, say, eight to 10, of a general character and interest.
Would my right hon. Friend arrange to have consultations about the urgent need for a statement on the timing of the local inquiries announced by the Commission on the Third London Airport, as there is considerable concern that the time before these inquiries is very short indeed, especially as the first one, at Foulness, is due to start on 5th May, when local authorities will be immersed in the local elections?
[That this House applauds the declaration of President Nixon in his Inaugural Address that he seeks an open world, open to the exchange of goods; and urges Her Majesty's Government to examine the possibilities for the creation of a free trade association of countries based on the United Kingdom, Canada, the United Kingdom's partners in the European Free Trade Association, and the United States of America and open for all, including the European Economic Community, to join.]
I do not think that the Government can ignore the Motion. It is signed, I agree, by many hon. Members. I will draw my right hon. Friend's attention to it, but we cannot have a debate next week.
Is the Leader of the House aware that all the attempts made this week to get the Foreign Secretary to make a statement on the representations he has made to the Nigerian High Commissioner have not succeeded? Will he, therefore, bear in mind the pressing need for a statement on the bombing in Biafra to be made next week, if we are unable to have a debate?
Will the Leader of the House explain what he meant when he said that the Government intended to pursue their course on the Parliament (No. 2) Bill? So far as most of us are aware, there is not much sense of movement. We would like to know what estimation of progress the Government have made.
[That this House notes with concern that the first sailing of the first British deep-sea containership, 'Encounter Bay', took place from Rotterdam, and that the container terminal built at Tilbury specifically for this service could not be used, despite the conclusion of a comprehensive agreement with the employees directly concerned and considers that the permanent diversion of this valuable trade would seriously damage the British shipping industry, the export drive and the balance of payments.]
Is the right hon. Gentleman further aware of the remarkable publicity attached to the successful launching of the container service from Japan? Will he therefore consider whether, instead of spending much of our time next week in discussing the cost of defending ourselves against our external enemies, we ought to be considering the cost and manner in defending ourselves from internal economic lunacy?
Will my right hon. Friend consider, rather than devoting six days to a ritual fire dance over defence and the Service Estimates, diverting the time available to more important legislation? Will he consult his right hon. Friends about sending the Estimates to a Select Committee where they can be given much more detailed and constructive examination?
[That this House, mindful of the great services rendered to his country by the late Right honourable Sir WinstonChurchill, K.G., O.M., C.H., and noting that there is no statue available to the public in the centre of London to commemorate this outstanding leader of Britain, calls on Her Majesty's Government to provide a suitable site for such a memorial.]
[That this House, reaffirming its support for a peaceful settlement of the Arab / Israeli conflict based on the Security Council resolution of November 1967, calls on Her Majesty's Government to negotiate at the United Nations a four-power agreement on a time-table for implementing the resolution and on an arms embargo to operate against any country not fulfilling the time-table.]
Despite what my right hon. Friend has said about the Nigerian/Biafran situation, is he aware that there is a large measure of public opinion on this issue outside the House, and that it would be a negation of parliamentary democracy for this House not to debate the issue in the near future?
[That this House, deeply concerned about the continued fighting in the Nigerian civil war, calls upon Her Majesty's Government:—To make a fresh approach to other countries sending military equipment to the combatants with a view to securing through international action a complete embargo on the supply of arms to both sides; To use its good offices to try to bring about a meeting between General Gowon and Colonel Ojukuwu to discuss an immediate ceasefire; Substantially to increase the flow of food and other forms of economic aid to alleviate the suffering caused by the war in both Nigeria and Biafra.]
The House will have noted that my right hon. Friend has conceded to the Opposition that parts of the Finance Bill in Committee will this year be taken downstairs instead of upstairs. Will he not take too much notice of the filibustering tactics last year, and not concede too much of the Bill to be debated on the Floor of the House?
The Leader of the House has said that about eight subjects in the Finance Bill which were of interest to the House could be taken on the Floor of the House. Will he say who will select the subjects and give an assurance that the Committee as a whole will consider what subjects will be taken on the Floor of the House?
Will not my right hon. Friend agree that the questions put to the Prime Minister show that the issue of Britain's relationship with Europe is of great importance, particularly as we now seem to have given the cold shoulder to our E.F.T.A. partners and our other allies in Europe? Should we not have a full debate on the European situation?
I know that this is an important matter. Hon. Members have pressed me to have full foreign affairs debates on many subjects. I have stated my intention, but we cannot have it next week.
The Leader of the House can be under no illusion about the feeling on both sides of the House on the necessity for a debate on Nigeria. I am sure the House accepts his assurance that there will be a debate, but would it not meet the wishes of hon. Members if he announced on Monday the date for such a debate? Would it not also meet the wish of the House if it were to be on that date?
Will my right hon. Friend consider referring to the Select Committee on Procedure the question whether the Ten Minutes Rule procedure should continue in its present form? Is he aware that many hon. Members think that that procedure is misleading to the general public, who do not understand it, that it is ineffective as a means either of legislation or of raising a grievance? It tends to occupy——
The Leader of the House was kind enough to respond to my initial question about a debate on Nigeria, but he will have noticed the very strong feeling about the matter on both sides of the House. Can he, therefore, assure us, first, that there will be a debate not on foreign affairs generally, but on the specific point, and, secondly, can we consider through the usual channels how this can be done as soon as possible, because I am sure that it is the will of the House generally?
Referring to the reply of the Leader of the House to my hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Mr. Royle) on auction rings, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Committee stage of the Auction Rings Bill will be coming up on Wednesday? In view of that, can he assure the House that his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade will make his statement before Wednesday so that we can take account of his findings in this matter?
Can my right hon. Friend say whether it is true that the Prime Minister is considering transferring responsibility for aircraft noise from the Board of Trade? May we have a debate on Motion No. 149, so that the House can discuss which Department would be appropriate to receive responsibility?
[That this House believes that aircraft noise would be more effectively controlled if responsibility for its limitation were transferred from the Board of Trade to the Department of Health and Social Security; and requests the Prime Minister to examine this proposal with a viewto the introduction of the change without delay.]
[That this House, realising the uneven distribution of trade, industry, commerce, and employment in Scotland which are mainly concentrated in the South of Scotland, calls on the Government to make better use of modern scientific methods which are now available in this technological age, in order to improve national and external facilities and communications throughout Scotland and in order to attract to and establish in North North-East and North-West Scotland more industries and employment than at present exist there for the benefit of Scotland's internal prosperity and exports particularly to northern parts of Europe and America in relation to which Scotland stands geographically in an especially favourable position.]
Is my right hon. Friend aware of the increasing concern at the Government's inability to provide time for the Merchant Shipping Bill and that the reply which he gave to my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) is almost exactly the same as that given six weeks ago?
Further to my right hon. Friend's reply in respect of the Roskill Committee's timetable for local inquiries into alternatives for the third London Airport, will he provide time for a debate on the matter, bearing in mind that the Stansted lobby had several years and numerous Parliamentary occasions to oppose the proposal for an airport at Stansted and that, in common justice, the other people require the same?
[That this House, believing that the future prosperity of the country is dependent on the free and full development of private enterprise and believing that the practice of the present Government of attempting to enforce undesirable policieswithout any legal authority is unconstitutional and wrong, deplores the handicaps sought to be imposed by the Government on the private sector of the economy by restricting bank overdrafts.]
Will the Leader of the House assure us that, when he discusses with his right hon. Friends the apportionment of the Finance Bill proceedings, he will consult back bench hon. Members on both sides so that there is agreement as to which parts should be considered in Committee upstairs and which parts in Committee on the Floor of the House?
In view of the apparently conflicting explanations from the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister on the latest rise in the Bank Rate, now that the Parliament (No. 2) Bill has blessedly disappeared from view for a time, may we have an early debate on the Government's monetary policy, coupled with the Basle Agreement?