Business of the House

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 13 December 1973.

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Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton 12:00, 13 December 1973

Will the Leader of the House state the business for next week?

Photo of Mr James Prior Mr James Prior , Lowestoft

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

MONDAY 17TH DECEMBER—Until about seven o'clock, remaining stages of the Land Tenure Reform (Scotland) Bill, and of the Biological Weapons Bill.

Motion relating to the Import Duties (General) (No. 8) Order.

Motion on the European Communities (Definition of Treaties) (No. 2) Order.

TUESDAY 18TH DECEMBER AND WEDNESDAY 19TH DECEMBER—(7th allotted Supply Day)—Debate on the Economic and Energy Situation, which will arise on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.

At the end on Tuesday, consideration of the Queen's message and of the motion to approve the Emergency Regulations.

At the end on Wednesday, remaining stages of the Horticulture (Special Payments) Bill and of the Charlwood and Horley Bill.

THURSDAY 20TH DECEMBER—Motions on the Rate Support Grant (Increase) Orders.

FRIDAY 21ST DECEMBER—It will be proposed that the House should rise for the Christmas Adjournment until Tuesday, 15th January, 1974.

In putting forward this date, Mr. Speaker, the Government will be especially aware of the possible need of asking the House to resume sooner.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we are grateful to the Government for agreeing to what we asked, namely, that if the Chancellor has any proposals to make, he should make them on Monday so that when the House considers these matters on Tuesday and Wednesday we shall have the whole picture in front of us? There are distinguished precedents, under successive Governments, for statements being made not during the debate but before it, including the one concerning yourself, Mr. Speaker, on 25th July 1961. We are grateful that we shall be given the complete picture.

Photo of Mr James Prior Mr James Prior , Lowestoft

I am grateful for what the right hon. Gentleman said, but I warn the House that the statement on Monday will be fairly long so that there will be ample information for hon. Members.

Photo of Mr Harold Wilson Mr Harold Wilson , Huyton

With the rearrangement of business which the right bon. Gentleman has announced, we should have adequate time to question the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in so far as it will be necessary, in the debate, and the House will co-operate in the rest of the business of the day, including what will be an extremely important debate on harmonisation tariffs, value added tax and other things.

Photo of Mr James Prior Mr James Prior , Lowestoft

This is correct, but I hope the House recognises that the two-day debate will follow, in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer will take part.

Photo of Mr Enoch Powell Mr Enoch Powell , Wolverhampton South West

Will my right hon. Friend endeavour to ensure that as soon as possible after the Christmas Recess we shall have the opportunity to take a decision on the ways in which the House is to exercise control over the secondary legislation of the European Community?

Photo of Mr James Prior Mr James Prior , Lowestoft

I apologise to the House for the fact that we are not to have this debate before Christmas, as I had hoped. This is not possible only because of the rearrangement of business which I have announced. I want to have the debate very soon after we return because it is important that we come to a decision on what methods the House should adopt to debate these important matters.

Photo of Mr Marcus Lipton Mr Marcus Lipton , Lambeth Brixton

The Government promised that we should have the report of the Lane Committee on abortion law before the end of the year. Is that promise to be kept?

Photo of Mr James Prior Mr James Prior , Lowestoft

I welcome the hon. Gentleman back after his illness. I am not certain that the Government ever promised that the report would be available to the House by the end of the year. It has been said that the report is to be in the hands of the Government by the end of the year. As soon as it is printed it will be published and made available to the House.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

May we expect the order relating to the Kielder Dam before Christmas, in view of the fact that it does not arouse any controversy? It would be very helpful to have the order before the Christmas Recess. The order is needed so as to get on with providing water which is very important for industry. At the moment industry needs everything it can get.

Photo of Mr James Prior Mr James Prior , Lowestoft

I have done my best for my hon. Friend, but I regret that the order will not be available before the Christmas Recess. It will, however, be available shortly afterwards. I know of the interest which my hon. Friend has taken in this matter and I have done everything I can, but I have to admit defeat.

Photo of Mr Charles Morris Mr Charles Morris , Manchester Openshaw

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the Northwest there is anxiety that the Minister for Transport Industries is about to announce rejection of an application for a grant from the SELNEC Passenger Transport Authority, for the Manchester Piccadilly-Victoria rapid transit system, of £100 million? Is he aware that such a decision would be considered an outrage and may precipitate a crisis of confidence in the Government's transport policy? Will the right hon. Gentleman take the Minister for Transport Industries to one side and remind him of the pledges which the Government gave about open government at the time of the last General Election? Further, will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that if the Minister for Transport Industries is to make an announcement he will make a statement in the House next week on this very important subject?

Photo of Mr James Prior Mr James Prior , Lowestoft

I shall have this matter investigated and I shall talk to my right hon. Friend about it.

Photo of Mr Neil Marten Mr Neil Marten , Banbury

As there have been three meetings of the Council of Ministers this week, may we expect a statement on the matter next week?

Photo of Mr James Prior Mr James Prior , Lowestoft

I would have thought it likely that the Prime Minister would either refer in his speech next week to the summit conference or make a statement, but I would like to examine the matter. As for other statement resulting from Ministers being in Brussels this week, I would like to inform myself as to exactly what has been discussed and thereafter let my hon. Friend know the position.

Photo of Mr Alf Morris Mr Alf Morris , Manchester Wythenshawe

Is the Leader of the House aware that we expect him to take seriously and as a matter of urgency the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Openshaw (Mr. Charles R. Morris)? We feel that there has been an unconscionable delay in a decision being reached from the Minister for Transport Industries. Will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that we shall have a definite inviolable statement next week?

Photo of Mr James Prior Mr James Prior , Lowestoft

I like to see brotherly love from the Opposition and I take careful note of what both brothers have said.

Photo of Mr Ivor Stanbrook Mr Ivor Stanbrook , Orpington

Is my right hon. Friend aware of Early Day Motion No. 10 regarding the right of engineers to practise?

[That this House, mindful of the fact that from 31st December 1973 the right of many thousands of qualified engineers to practise in the United Kingdom and the European Economic Community will be in jeopardy, urges Her Majesty's Government to seek an urgent settlement between the Council of Engineering Institutions and the many known non-chartered bodies such as the Institution of Heating and Ventilating Engineers.]

Unless something is done before the end of this month the rights of perfectly well-qualified engineers to practise in Europe will come to an end.

Photo of Mr James Prior Mr James Prior , Lowestoft

I know quite a bit about this, but I cannot add to what my hon. Friend said on 19th November.

Photo of Mr Sydney Bidwell Mr Sydney Bidwell , Southall

Will the right hon. Gentleman assure us that there will be a recall of Parliament sooner than the date which he announced today should the grave industrial crisis and the present industrial relations situation prevail and continue into the recess period and should it look like worsening, especially if the Government envisage using troops in any activity which is normally undertaken by workers?

Photo of Mr James Prior Mr James Prior , Lowestoft

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the House has already lost up to a week of its recess by today's announcement. I have given the undertaking that we may need to ask the House to resume sooner than the date announced.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Lewis Mr Kenneth Lewis , Rutland and Stamford

Does the right hon. Gentleman believe that if the rest of the country is on a three-day week we shall resume after the recess and be on a five-day week?

Photo of Mr James Prior Mr James Prior , Lowestoft

We shall be on a five-day week up to Christmas. I shall have carefully to consider how we arrange business in the New Year.

Photo of Hon. Sam Silkin Hon. Sam Silkin , Camberwell Dulwich

Can the right hon. Gentleman answer the question which I put to him during business questions two weeks ago and privately a week ago and which has been the subject of many questions in the House, namely, whether a decision has been made, and if so when it will be announced, on the renewal of the right of individual petition to the European Commission on Human Rights? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the present period will expire before we resume after the Christmas Recess and that it is most urgent that a decision should be announced immediately?

Photo of Mr James Prior Mr James Prior , Lowestoft

I apologise to the hon. and learned Gentleman. I thought that a decision had been conveyed to him and to the House. I shall check to see why it has not been conveyed and ensure that an announcement is made either next week or during the Adjournment debate, whichever is the sooner.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Acton

Does the Lord President of the Council recall that during business questions last week he undertook to inform myself or the House whether it would be possible to debate the EEC general system of preference before that decision was made? Over 100 hon. Members have signed Motion No. 88:

[That, in view of the detailed and far reaching negotiations now taking place within EEC circles in Brussels concerning Associate Status, Generalised Preferences, the European Development Fund and other related matters, this House believes that Her Majesty's Government should enter into no agreements about future policy in these spheres until there has been an opportunity fully to debate any proposals within this House.]

Will the right hon. Gentleman assure us on the matter and say why he has not been able to find time to debate the matter next week?

Photo of Mr James Prior Mr James Prior , Lowestoft

The matters referred to in the motion were not the subject of deadlines in the Paris summit communiqué of October 1972. With regard to the question of associate status and the European Development Fund, the present Yaounde-Arusha Convention expires on 31st January 1975. In order to allow time for ratification, the Protocol 22 negotiations for successor arrangements will have to be concluded by next summer. Whether this timetable will be met remains to be seen.

As regards the improvements for the Community's generalised preference scheme, this is a continuing process with no final deadline. While I shall continue to bear in mind hon. Members' requests, I cannot give any undertaking to find time for a debate before decisions are taken. But it seems to me that a good many of the decisions will not be taken before time is available.

Photo of Mr Kenneth Warren Mr Kenneth Warren , Hastings

Will my right hon. Friend be prepared to give time in the near future to debate Early Day Motion No. 103 calling for the banning of beam trawling by Her Majesty's Government around the coasts of this country which has received support from 60 hon. Members on both sides of the House?

[That this House calls upon Her Majesty's Government to ban the use of beam trawls by fishing boats within the 12-mile fishing limit around the coast of the United Kingdom until a proper investigation has been completed, to the satisfaction of the inshore fishermen, of the effects of beam trawling on fish conservation.]

Photo of Mr James Prior Mr James Prior , Lowestoft

This is like old times. My hon. Friend the Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food recently announced consultations with all sides of the industry, including the minority of fishermen who favour the use of beam trawls. He is, I know, fully aware of the strength of feeling among certain hon. Members and also the inshore fishermen. We had better await the outcome of the consultations before considering the matter further.