Business of the House

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th July 1970.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border 12:00 am, 16th July 1970

With permission, I wish to make a statement on the business of the House for next week, which will be as follows:

MONDAY, 20TH JULY—Consideration of Her Majesty's most Gracious Message and of the Motion to approve the Emergency Regulations.

TUESDAY, 21ST JULY—Second Reading of the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill.

WEDNESDAY, 22ND JULY—Remaining stages of the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill.

Supply (2nd Allotted day): There will be a debate on the supply of arms to South Africa, which will arise on an Opposition Motion.

Motions relating to Cinematograph Films and Judges.

THURSDAY, 23RD JULY—Motions relating to Local Loans, White Fish and Herring Subsidies, Gas (Borrowing Powers) and Housing Subsidies.

Second Reading of the Teaching Council (Scotland) Bill.

FRIDAY, 24TH JULY—If the course of events allows, it will be proposed that the House should rise for the Summer Adjournment.

May I add that I am fully aware of the interest in an early announcement about the proposed duration of the Adjournment, but in the present circumstances I think the House will feel it right that I should defer making a statement for a few more days.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

In view of the serious situation which has arisen, naturally the House will wish to co-operate with the right hon. Gentleman in the change of business which has become necessary since last week. Can he say at this stage on what day he expects we shall debate the Motion that the House do adjourn next Friday? Secondly, is he now in a position to say what are the Government's intentions in relation to the Bill concerning the coal-mining industry? Is it now intended to bring it forward, even if not next week, and will it contain the same Clauses in respect of elderly miners particularly, as were in our Bill?

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

I am grateful for the right hon. Gentleman's generous remarks about the change in business. As for the debate on the Motion proposing the Adjournment, I would prefer to await events. I will make a statement early next week, when the situation is clearer.

On the right hon. Gentleman's second point, the Government will introduce a Bill this Session to lessen the effects of contraction in the coal industry on miners and the mining community after the existing powers expire at the end of March next year.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

On that point, there is great concern about it in mining areas. There is to be a big meeting in Durham on Saturday which a number of hon. and right hon. Members expect to attend. Will the Bill contain the same conditions in respect of elderly miners as our Bill?

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

The right hon. Gentleman very properly presses me, and I promised that I would give him a positive answer as soon as I could. I have now given him a positive answer that we will introduce a Bill for the purposes that I have set out. However, it would not be right before the publication of this Bill to say anything more at this stage—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"] I have made it clear that the purpose of the Bill will be to lessen the effects of contraction in the coal industry on miners and the mining community after the existing powers expire in March. That is the purpose. There is nothing difficult in this. But it would not be right to try and give details of the legislation before it is published.

Photo of Mr Charles Fletcher-Cooke Mr Charles Fletcher-Cooke , Darwen

Can we have an announcement of my right hon. Friend's intentions about the debates on the Orders relating to the redistribution of Parliamentary constituencies?

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

I was hoping to have taken these next week, had it not been for the unfortunate emergency. In the new circumstances, they will be taken as soon as possible after the Summer Recess.

Photo of Mr Arthur Latham Mr Arthur Latham , Paddington North

May I thank the Leader of the House for the courtesy and kindness that he has shown in listening to representations that I have made to him—[Interruption.] I wish that that courtesy were emulated by some of the right hon. Gentleman's hon. Friends. May I ask what is the result of his consideration of my request for time to debate Early Day Motion No. 8 and the remaining matters in the submission which I made to you, Mr. Speaker, last Friday week? May I also ask the right hon. Gentleman to recognise that apart from the broad issues involved, there is urgency about the specific case which has given rise to this matter. Therefore, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman two questions? May we have a statement from one of his colleagues? Secondly, is it possible to have time to debate a Motion to change the rules of the House with regard to Ministerial responsibility for British subjects in prison in Northern Ireland?

[That the matter of the rights of honourable Members of this House who have been committed to Her Majesty's Prisons, and of their constituents, be referred to a Select Committee to be appointed for this purpose, and that they do consider and report, in particular, what action should be taken if any person deliberately delays the receipt of mail by an honourable Member, interferes with a Member's right to correspond with any constituent, member of Her Majesty's Government, Department of State or another Member of this House, forcibly prevents a Member from attending this House, or prevents a Member who wishes to do so from interviewing a constituent or a fellow Member who is assisting him in the conduct of his constituency business.]

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind remarks. As he fully appreciates, his Motion is concerned with the general position of hon. Members who may find themselves in prison. On the general point, I intend to put down a Motion proposing that the matters raised in the hon. Gentleman's Motion should be referred to the Select Committee on Privileges as soon as it is set up.

The particular case to which the hon. Gentleman referred is a matter for the Northern Ireland Government. However, the Minister of Home Affairs, Northern Ireland, is to see my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary tomorrow. They will then have an opportunity to discuss this matter.

Photo of Mr James Dance Mr James Dance , Bromsgrove

Is the Leader of the House prepared to refer to the Select Committee on Procedure the issues raised about the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Lambton) in Motion No. 5?

[That the matter of the style and title of the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed be referred to the Committee of Privileges.]

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

It is for the Select Committee on Procedure to consider whether it is prepared to look into the matter. However, I hope that, as soon as it is set up, the Committee will feel able to consider this question.

Photo of Mr Edmund Dell Mr Edmund Dell , Birkenhead

Has the Leader of the House read the Adjournment debate that took place last Tuesday on Cammell Laird and reports of statements subsequently stated to have been made in the Press? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this situation is taking on increasingly serious aspects? Will he ensure that the statement which was promised at the end of the Adjournment debate on Tuesday is made before the House rises for the Summer Recess?

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

I will certainly look into the matter. I will represent to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Technology that the right hon. Gentleman would like him to make a statement next week.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

Has my right hon. Friend seen my Motion No. 19—

[That, in the opinion of this House, the Standing Order which prevents under legitimate circumstances the names of hon. Members from being mentioned, that is to say the right hon. Member for Hexham as well as the hon. Member for Tynemouth in a Question to the Minister of Housing and Local Government on 21st July referring to Major Johnson, in the interest of a constituent's grievance should be eliminated as it is in the interest of Parliament that a proper representation should be made when a departmental criticism is involved.]

which prevents me deploying the full case in support of a constituent of mine who has complained against decisions of the Minister of Housing and Local Government of the last Government? My constituent's appeal was dismissed on three occasions, and it was subsequently found that it was dismissed on the wrong law. Is my right hon. Friend aware that I should like to have included my right hon. Friend the Minister of Technology, who also had an interest in this case? Because the Standing Order prevents me doing so, I cannot properly deploy my constituent's case. Will my right hon. Friend take action?

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

My hon. Friend will have noticed the Motion relating to the Select Committee on Procedure in the Order Paper today. If the House approves that Motion, the Committee may consider this matter, if it thinks fit.

Photo of Mr Charles Pannell Mr Charles Pannell , Leeds West

The Leader of the House said a few minutes ago that he intended to refer to the Select Committee on Privilege matters concerning Members of Parliament in gaol, and particularly the case of the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin). Are we, in this Parliament, to have consideration of the Select Committee's Report on the law of privilege? It seems that the reference we now have could be coloured by consideration of the wider issues.

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for raising this point. I know of the interest which he, and particularly the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot), have in the matter. Yes, I should certainly hope that we will do this.

Several Hon. Members:

Several Hon. Members rose

Photo of Patrick Cormack Patrick Cormack , Cannock

May I draw my right hon. Friend's attention to Motion No. 20 which has now been signed by 99 right hon. and hon. Members on this side of the House?

[That this House calls upon Her Majesty's Government to introduce legislation to repeal that part of Section 15 of the Representation of the People Act, 1969, which abolished the property qualification for election to membership of a local authority in England and Wales so that local authorities can return to aposition whereby candidates who are genuinely involved in the affairs of the community are not excluded for unnecessary reasons from serving it in local government.]

In view of the consequent disruption which could occur in many local authorities next May if this is not implemented, may I urge my right hon. Friend to give the matter his early and earnest consideration?

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

My hon. Friend will probably have noted that, in answer to a Question on 9th July, my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Home Office, said that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary was considering this matter urgently and would inform the House of his conclusion before the recess.

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

I apologise to the hon. Member for Cannock (Mr. Cormack) for giving him a wrong name. I am trying to learn the faces of 159 Maidens.

Photo of Mr Willie Hamilton Mr Willie Hamilton , Fife West

Will the Leader of the House tell us when the Foreign Secretary intends to make his statement on the supplying of arms to South Africa? Will it be before the debate on Wednesday?

Secondly, have the Government got in mind to have an inquiry into the alleged leak last Tuesday of the Board of Trade's balance of payments figures?

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

On the first point, the answer is "Monday".

Concerning the second point, I will pass on to my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade the remarks made by the hon. Gentleman and he will consider them.

Photo of Mrs Renée Short Mrs Renée Short , Wolverhampton North East

Does the Leader of the House intend to make an announcement next week about Standing Order No. 80? If the right hon. Gentleman does not know what Standing Order No. 80 is, may I inform him that it is the Standing Order which enables the setting-up of the Estimates Committee at the beginning of every Session. Will the right hon. Gentleman make a statement next week?

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for advising me about Standing Order No. 80. Otherwise, my answer might not have been as full as it will now be.

If the hon. Lady would do me the courtesy of looking at the remarks which I made in the debate on the Address, she would find that I then said that I wished to consider the whole question of Select Committees, which I definitely wish to see set up in some form, and that when I had come to a conclusion I would put proposals before the House in the form of a Green Paper and give the House an opportunity to debate them.

Photo of Sir Gerald Nabarro Sir Gerald Nabarro , Worcestershire South

As we are not to have a debate until the autumn on the promised Coal Industry Bill, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he recalls that the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that Government Departments will now scrutinise price increases? May we, therefore, have a statement, before the House rises for the recess, on Lord Robens' proposals to increase the price of coal right across the board by 10 per cent. with all the inflationary consequences?

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Technology will note what my hon. Friend has said. I cannot commit my right hon. Friend to a statement. I cannot even yet say when the House will definitely rise, so I cannot commit my right hon. Friend to a statement next week.

Photo of Mr Eric Ogden Mr Eric Ogden , Liverpool, West Derby

The Leader of the House has been asked whether the President of the Board of Trade will make a statement about coal prices. Is the right hon. Gentleman also aware that there are applications before the Board of Trade for increases in the prices of fuel oil and derivatives? Will he ask his right hon. Friend to make them the subject of the statement, too, if one is to be made about coal?

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

For the record, what I said to my hon. Friend was that coal price increases concerned my right hon. Friend the Minister of Technology. I will, of course, call his attention also to what the hon. Gentleman said.

Photo of Mr Russell Kerr Mr Russell Kerr , Feltham

Will the Leader of the House indicate when we will have an opportunity to discuss the history-making report of the Select Committee which recently inquired into the Bank of England?

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

I cannot say at this stage. I recognise that it is an important Report which the House will certainly wish to consider.

Photo of Mr Cranley Onslow Mr Cranley Onslow , Woking

Will my right hon. Friend tell us whether the Minister of Housing and Local Government is likely to be able to make a statement, before the House rises for the recess, about partly completed transactions involving the Land Commission?

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

I will certainly mention to my right hon. Friend what has been put to me. I cannot make a definite commitment about a statement next week, but I will certainly see what my right hon. Friend can do.

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

Will the Leader of the House indicate the form that the debate on the emergency powers will take on Monday? Will it be exempted business, will it be brought to a conclusion at 10 o'clock, or will there be further debates on the various Regulations?

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

It will be a whole day's debate. Without notice, I cannot answer questions about it being exempted, but I think it is.

Photo of Mr Tom Driberg Mr Tom Driberg , Barking

Will the Leader of the House tell us whether the Home Secretary will be making a statement on his discussions tomorrow with the Minister of Home Affairs, Northern Ireland, on the case of the hon. Member for Mid-Ulster (Miss Devlin)—which, from tomorrow, will presumably be within the Home Secretary's responsibility, which you, Mr. Speaker, have ruled that it has not been hitherto?

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

I do not think that that necessarily follows from my answer, that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will discuss the matter with the Northern Ireland Minister of Home Affairs. I think that rather the opposite conclusion could be drawn. I understand—I said so in my original answer—that this is a matter for the Northern Ireland authorities. My right hon. Friend will discuss this matter with the Minister of Home Affairs. If, after that, he thinks it necessary to make a statement he will do so, but I cannot give a commitment that he will.

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

When my right hon. Friend considers the future of Select Committees, will he bear in mind what I think was good and useful work done in the last Session by the Select Committee on Race Relations?

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

Yes, Sir, most certainly I shall.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

Further to the answer given by the right hon. Gentleman about the Government bringing in a Bill similar to the 1967 Coal Industry Bill, as the right hon. Gentleman could not spell out the precise nature of the legislation, may I ask whether there have been consultations with the appropriate miners unions, and whether the consultations took place in an amicable atmosphere?

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

I think that that is really a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Technology. I cannot anticipate the legislation. I must therefore ask the House to await it and ask hon. Members to put questions on the policy concerned to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Technology.

Photo of Mr John Fraser Mr John Fraser , Lambeth Norwood

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that, on the basis of normality, he ought to announce the date of the end of the Summer Recess? Is he aware that Parliament can always be recalled earlier? In the light of present answers that one is getting from Ministers, the impression is getting around that the Government are going into a permanent state of hibernation.

Photo of Mr William Whitelaw Mr William Whitelaw , Penrith and The Border

If that is the impression given to the hon. Gentleman and others, I can only give him and them an absolute assurance that that is wholly false. As regards the announcement of the date of the end of the recess, I feel, and I felt that I carried the House with me at that moment, that when we are in an emergency situation it would be better to wait for a few days to see how things develop before giving that information, particularly because, as the hon. Gentleman will appreciate if, most unfortunately, emergency powers have to be renewed, that has to be done within a month, and the House would have to be recalled for that purpose.