Business of the House

– in the House of Commons at 3:35 pm on 13th June 1985.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

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

MONDAY 17 JUNE—A debate on a Government motion to approve the White Paper on Airports Policy, Cmnd. 9542.

TUESDAY 18 JUNE—A debate on a Government motion on the Green Paper on the Reform of Social Security, Cmnd. 9517–9.

WEDNESDAY 19 JUNE—Opposition Day (15th Allotted Day). There will be a debate on an Opposition Motion entitled "Government Imposed Price Increases".

Motion on European Community Document 9402/84 on quick frozen foodstuffs.

THURSDAY 20 JUNE—There will be a debate on a Government motion on the White Paper on Developments in the European Community July-December 1984, Cmnd. 9485, on the report of the Dooge Committee on Institutional Affairs, and on Community Documents 11911/1/81 (on a conciliation procedure between the European Assembly Council and the Commission), on 10350/82 (on stronger action in the cultural sector), and on 8667/82 and 4469/85 on controls and formalities at Community borders.

FRIDAY 21 JUNE—A debate on small firms which will arise on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.

MONDAY 24 JUNE—Opposition Day (16th Allotted Day)—subject to be announced.

[European Community Documents to be debated Wednesday 19 June
(a) 9402/84Quick frozen foodstuffs
Thursday 20 June
(b) UnnumberedReport of Dooge Committee on
EC Institutional Affairs
(c) 11911/1/81Conciliation procedure between
Community Institutions
(d) 10350/82Communication concerning
stronger action in the cultural sector
(e) 8667/82Frontier checks on Community
citizens
(f) 4469/85Frontier checks on Community
citizens
Relevant Reports of European Legislation Committee
  1. (a) HC 5-iv (1984-85), paragraph 4.
  2. (b)HC 5-xxi (1984-85).
  3. (c) HC 21-xix (1981-82)
  4. (d) HC 34-xv (1982-83)
  5. (e) HC 34-i (1982-83) and HC 78-xxviii (1983-84)
  6. (f) HC 5-xvi (1984-85).]

Photo of Mr Neil Kinnock Mr Neil Kinnock Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. First, may I ask him to ensure that the statement on the social security benefits uprating is made next Monday so that in the debate on the Government's Green Paper on the reform of social security the House can have all the relevant information on the most recent uprating to hand?

Secondly, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman for a debate in Government time on the immigration rules, taking into account both the European court judgment and the new restriction on Tamils?

Thirdly, will the right hon. Gentleman arrange for a debate in Government time on the crisis facing the arts, caused by the unexpected shortfall of £30 million that has resulted from the Government's failure properly to estimate the effects of the abolition of the Greater London and metropolitan county councils? [Interruption.] While considering that matter, will the right hon. Gentleman disregard the philistines who heckle from Conservative Benches?

Finally, it is now 13 weeks since the violence at the Luton-Millwall match and the statement by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, who is responsible for sport, and two weeks since the horrific incidents at the Heysel stadium in Brussels and the Government's promise to take effective measures. As it is now only 10 weeks to the start of the new football season and five or six weeks until the summer recess, when will we have the necessary discussions about the Government's legislation and their other proposals for dealing with football hooliganism?

Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that we in the Opposition want strong, urgent and effective action to be taken in that matter? Those objectives can be best achieved by joint effort and maximum agreement. In pursuit of that, will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that there is joint discussion, maximum information and, very important, adequate time for legislation?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I recognise the importance of the uprating statement in the context of the debate on the social security proposals. Perhaps we can look at that matter through the usual channels.

On the second point, while no announcement has been made about a debate on immigration reflecting the problems of the Tamils and recent judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, I accept that the topic is important.

Thirdly, in the context of the arts, perhaps I will be allowed to say this—and I believe that this sentiment will be widely echoed throughout the House. I should like to express our great pleasure at the donation that has come today to the National Gallery through the Getty Foundation. I note what the right hon. Gentleman said about a debate concerning public sector provision for the arts. Again, perhaps we can look at that matter through the usual channels.

Finally, I am most anxious to join the right hon. Gentleman in underlining the importance of consultation and maximum agreement on legislation on alcohol in respect of football matches. I shall do what I can to move matters in the direction that he seeks.

Photo of Mr Nigel Forman Mr Nigel Forman , Carshalton and Wallington

On next Tuesday's debate on the social security Green Paper, is my right hon. Friend aware that more than 129 right hon. and hon. Conservative Members have signed early-day motion 653, which urges the House to endorse the principle of an integregated tax-benefit system?

[That this House endorses the principle of an integrated tax-benefit system; and urges Her Majesty's Government to use the present review of social security and the forthcoming Green Paper on personal taxation as an opportunity to take the first steps towards that objective.] Will he ensure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services is made fully aware of that broad-ranging support?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I shall be happy to concur with what my hon. Friend seeks.

Photo of Alan Beith Alan Beith Opposition Whip (Commons), Shadow Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs)

Surely the House will not be denied the opportunity to debate and have a separate vote on the humanitarian issue of the immigration rule changes that will effect the Tamil community. Does the Leader of the House, whose responses to the matter have been sympathetic, recognise that to embrace the matter within a wider debate would be to confuse that debate and to deny the House an opportunity that it should have?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I am happy to repeat now the sympathy that I expressed last week.

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

On next Monday's business, will my right hon. Friend make room for the debate to continue for about a further hour so that more hon. Members may be able to contribute and Mr. Speaker may be assisted in his selection of hon. Members who should speak?

Since the past year has seen unprecedented threats to public order and an unprecedented increase in violent crime, is it not time that we had a proper debate on the relationship between the resources available to the police and the demands placed upon them, which are, frankly, becoming too great?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I acknowledge the authority with which my hon. Friend speaks about the police, but I hope that he will understand when I say that I cannot offer the immediate prospect of a debate in Government time on that topic. I shall, of course, keep the matter in mind.

As to my hon. Friend's request with regard to the airports debate, I am sure that we can consider through the usual channels the virtues of extending the debate, perhaps until midnight.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South

Is the Leader of the House aware that the Scrutiny Committee will be glad that there is to be a debate next Thursday on the Dooge report, which leaves plenty of time before the Milan summit? Is he further aware that the Committee's 21st report, published today, includes a summary of its views on this matter? There have been press reports of additional proposals from the Foreign Secretary. Will they be available to hon. Members before next Thursday's debate?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's kind remarks about the arrangements that have been made to debate the Dooge report before the European Council meeting. I shall look into his second point.

Photo of Mr John Stokes Mr John Stokes , Halesowen and Stourbridge

Would my right hon. Friend be good enough to think again about the role, in its broadest aspects, of the European Court of Human Rights, which is so different from our system, which is thoroughly un-English and which may lead us into an awful mess?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

No time has been made available next week to enable the House to debate the shortcomings of the European Court of Human Rights, and I cannot offer any prospects of an early debate in Government time. It is a subject well suited to my hon. Friend's private enterprise.

Photo of Mr George Foulkes Mr George Foulkes , Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley

Will the Leader of the House arrange for the Foreign Secretary to make a statement as soon as possible disassociating the British Government from the decision of the United States Congress to give financial aid to the Contras? In view of the increasing possibility of American intervention in Nicaragua, and because of the extreme danger of such an event, will the right hon. Gentleman arrange an early debate on the matter?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I would mislead the hon. Gentleman if I suggested that there were any prospects of an early debate in Government time, but I shall draw the attention of my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary to the points that he has raised.

Photo of Mr John Browne Mr John Browne , Winchester

Does my right hon. Friend accept that, although many people would abhor a police state, they believe that the availability of identity cards could be a critical part of the fight against terrorism and crime in general? Does he further accept that many forms of security card already exist? Therefore, may we have a debate on this subject so that the Government might be encouraged to make available to the public on request a standard identity card, just as passports have been available for decades—

Hon. Members:

No.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

The reception to my hon. Friend's suggestion shows that his first step should be to try his luck in an Adjournment debate and to see what reaction he gets there.

Photo of Mr Tam Dalyell Mr Tam Dalyell , Linlithgow

May I ask the Leader of the House a question of which I gave him notice? In the light of my Consolidated Fund debate on 19 December 1984, the two books by Graham Smith and Judith Cook and the astonishing articles in the Daily Star yesterday and today on the death of the rose grower Hilda Murrell and the possible involvement of British intelligence, does he think that the time has come for a statement on the subject by the Home Secretary?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for having given me notice that he would ask his question. It is not immediately clear that the articles in the Daily Star add anything to what has hitherto appeared in the press, but I shall refer the point that has been made to my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary.

Photo of Roger Gale Roger Gale , North Thanet

My right hon. Friend will be aware that, in the overwhelming majority of cases, the introduction of the National Health Service approved list has been not just acceptable but welcome. He will also be aware that in a tiny minority of cases genuine difficulties have been created. Will he seek from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services an early statement to the House not just on plans for an appeal procedure but for the resolution of those few genuine difficulties?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I understand that my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister for Health wrote to the general medical services committee of the British Medical Association on 16 April setting out the Government's proposals for an appeal mechanism. I understand that the committee will be responding shortly. I hope that we can take it from there.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

Will the Leader of the House give further consideration to the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) so that we may have an opportunity to discuss the deplorable resolution passed by the United States House of Representatives yesterday? Is he aware that the Opposition feel that the Government should make it clear that they do not believe that Washington should destabilise or try to overthrow any Government, as in Nicaragua, which they do not support or consider should exist?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I do not think that I can helpfully add to the answer that I have already given. I shall, of course, make it my business to ensure that my right hon. and learned Friend is also informed of the hon. Gentleman's opinion.

Photo of Mr Harry Greenway Mr Harry Greenway , Ealing North

Did my right hon. Friend see the excellent letter in The Times yesterday from a former British and world boxing champion, Mr. Alan Minter, on values in sport and the need to improve crowd behaviour at sporting events? Does my right hon. Friend feel that the whole subject, linked with general social discipline, should be debated by the House in addition to discussions on the football measures to be introduced by the Government before the summer recess?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

The initial step must be to introduce the measures that the Government have in mind and to which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition referred. If we can get along with those, that will be the best contribution that the House can make.

Photo of Mr Dale Campbell-Savours Mr Dale Campbell-Savours , Workington

Does the Leader of the House recall that last week, when I asked for a statement on Lear Fan, he pointed to Question Time this week as being the time to raise that issue? Has he looked at the Order Paper today and noticed that there was no opportunity on it for any questions to be asked on Lear Fan? As £56 million of public money is involved, do we not deserve a statement at the Dispatch Box? Why do the Government persist in refusing to come to the Dispatch Box to answer about the Lear Fan loss of money?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman has not had the opportunity that I thought, when we had the exchange last week, might be available to him. I shall refer his observations to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

Photo of Mr Richard Hickmet Mr Richard Hickmet , Glanford and Scunthorpe

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in some quarters there is growing anxiety about the manner in which consultants within the NHS carry out private operations, about the waiting lists which are maintained, in some cases, it is felt, artificially long, and also about the remission of NHS fees from private patients? Will he arrange for a statement to be made on that matter by my right hon. and learned Friend the Minister for Health or for a debate on it?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I shall refer that point to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services. In the meanwhile, my hon. Friend may like to take the opportunity, if it is possible, to ask about it at Question Time on Tuesday.

Photo of Mr Peter Hardy Mr Peter Hardy , Wentworth

Does the Leader of the House accept that the House needs an early opportunity to consider the case for urgent improvements to regional policy and changes in the pace and scale of public expenditure to assist coalfield areas where unemployment is already dreadful and is now being so swollen as to present a genuine threat of corrosion and the crippling of our communities? Is he aware that that is making a mockery of any residual attachment of the Government to the concept of one nation?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

The hon. Gentleman raises an important aspect of economic policy that is contained within regional policies. There is no immediate opportunity for debating that in Government time, but he may wish to use the other opportunities that are available to him.

Photo of Tim Yeo Tim Yeo , South Suffolk

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the widespread disappointment at last week's decision to defer legislation to decontrol new private tenancies? In view of the fact that that will obstruct mobility of labour and, therefore, slow down the process of reducing unemployment, will it be possible to arrange a debate on the subject so that many Back-Bench Members who feel strongly about the matter may have a chance to express their views?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I do not foresee an early likelihood of a debate in Government time, but my hon. Friend may wish to pursue the other opportunities available to him.

Photo of Charles Kennedy Charles Kennedy , Ross and Cromarty and Skye

Given that the Government have termed the social security reviews as the most fundamental since Beveridge, does the Leader of the House seriously consider that one day's debate is sufficient to discuss them? In view of the revelations in today's press that Ministers completely ignored the advice of Mr. Stewart Lyon, the independent adviser on pensions, does the right hon. Gentleman agree that the consultative exercise within Parliament is likely to be as flawed and fraudulent as the consultative exercise for the reviews clearly was?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I do not accept much of that rhetoric as being appropriate to next week's business. The social security review is a big topic to be contained within one day, but, provided hon. Members argue succinctly, much good argument can be put forward and resolved.

Photo of Mr Tony Marlow Mr Tony Marlow , Northampton North

May I reinforce the point made both by my hon. Friend the Member for Halesowen and Stourbridge (Mr. Stokes) and in an excellent article by Ronald Butt in The Times today? Surely it is completely undemocratic for the laws of England to be made, not by the Commons of England, but by a bench of foreign judges, however distinguished they may be? We must have time for a proper debate to reassess our relationship with the European Court of Human Rights.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

There is no time made available specifically and explicitly by the Government next week. However, if my hon. Friend could not slip the matter into Thursday's agenda, I would feel that he was not living up to his reputation.—[Interruption.] I am aware of his reputation and I am trying to be complimentary to him. I am trying to say, if I may use a somewhat overworked word, that my hon. Friend has the ingenuity, which is meant to be a complimentary term, to make his point even within that guise.

Photo of Mr Brian Sedgemore Mr Brian Sedgemore , Hackney South and Shoreditch

Will the Leader of the House arrange for an early debate on yesterday's unsuccessful attempt by Mr. Coleby, a senior member of the Bank of England, to falsify the record of his evidence to the Treasury and Civil Service Select Committee on 22 May—

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. I do not think that the Committee has reported to the House yet.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. We cannot have a debate on the matter, because it has not yet been reported to the House.

Photo of Mr Brian Sedgemore Mr Brian Sedgemore , Hackney South and Shoreditch

With respect, Mr. Speaker, I wonder whether I could finish my question. I am asking the Leader—

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. Perhaps I too could use an overworked word and ask the hon. Gentleman to be more ingenious.

Photo of Mr Brian Sedgemore Mr Brian Sedgemore , Hackney South and Shoreditch

Disingenuously, Mr. Speaker, could the Chancellor of the Exchequer answer a debate on the ground that his denunciation of Mr. Coleby's evidence in the House on 23 May put pressure on Mr. Coleby to falsify the record of his evidence?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

So many hard things have been uttered on topics of which I am wholly unaware that I can best assume that the hon. Gentleman has been thinking aloud.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton , Macclesfield

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, in the name of the Government, hospitals for the mentally ill and disabled are being closed? Will he, therefore, take note of early-day motion 515, which has been tabled by me and signed by 118 right hon. and hon. Members?

[That this House, noting the widespread interest in the issue of care for the mentally ill and mentally handicapped in the community following the publication of the report of the Social Services Committee on this matter, calls for an early debate on the recommendations and implications of this report.]

It asks for an urgent debate on the subject before all the damage is done and facilities for the mentally disabled and mentally ill are closed without adequate facilities being provided in the community by way of accommodation and skilled personnel.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I shall draw the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services to that serious point.

Photo of Mr Dave Nellist Mr Dave Nellist , Coventry South East

Will the Leader of the House arrange for the Secretary of State for the Environment to come to the Dispatch Box this evening to make a statement about the actions of district auditors in Lambeth and Liverpool, the results of which are due to take effect this week? Is he aware that Lambeth Labour councillors have had no alternative but to defend the services in the area against the swingeing cuts that have been made by the Government? Is he further aware that Liverpool has made great advances in jobs and housing in the last two years? Does he appreciate that in the view of many Labour Members, trade unionists and members of the public who depend on the services in Liverpool and Lambeth, the needs of the working class in those areas have a higher priority than Tory legality?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I had hoped that the hon. Gentleman would join with me in welcoming the fact that one Labour council after another was now concluding a legal rate. I shall convey to my right hon. Friend his request that he come to the House this evening, but I cannot say that I travel that road hopefully.

Photo of Mr Peter Bruinvels Mr Peter Bruinvels , Leicester East

In view of recent abuses by certain diplomats, including a Syrian who claimed diplomatic immunity when, highly illegally, occupying someone's property, will my right hon. Friend provide time for the House to debate the question of privileges and immunities given to diplomats, particularly in view of the number of people now being given diplomatic status?

May I assure my right hon. Friend on behalf of many hon. Members that we were sorry not to hear him defending his stand on the business motion on the Unborn Children (Protection) Bill? Shall we have a further chance to hear his views on the subject, as the House would like an opportunity to debate the Bill again?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

On the latter point, I can only repeat what has been said many times—that the Government would not themselves be providing time for that legislation.

In the first part of his question my hon. Friend raised an extremely important point, especially for those living in central London. However, no time has been made available by the Government for a debate on the topic. My hon. Friend may like to take his chances with the Adjournment.

Photo of Mr Robert Parry Mr Robert Parry , Liverpool, Riverside

The Leader of the House will be aware of the appeal that has been made by Mr. Ted Croker, secretary of the FA, in respect of the worldwide ban against all English football teams. He will also be aware of early-day motion 765 tabled by me.

[That this House unequivocally condemning all forms of social violence, deplores the decision of FIFA in banning all English teams from playing friendly and competitive football worldwide, including games against teams from Scotland, Wales and Ireland; believes that this hasty move leaves England in total isolation from the rest of the football world; calls upon Her Majesty's Government to support the Football Association, Football League and the Sports Council in any appeal against this decision; and supports any measures which will help to end football violence.]

Will he ask the Minister responsible for sport to support this appeal against the total isolation of all English football teams from world soccer?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I shall, of course, pass on that suggestion.

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

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I have just received, as I think he and other right hon. Members have, a solicitous letter from the authorities of the House advising me that a nurse and doctor are available should I require their attention? Will he bear in mind, as we get into the hot summer, that we need an early recess, and will he advise us when the summer recess will start? The weather is so bad at present —we cannot blame the Government for that—that the sooner we start the recess, even if it means returning early in the autumn, the better.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I find that a worrying intervention, because my hon. Friend refers to a letter about medical advice which I have not received. Somebody must, therefore, be making an act of extreme discrimination in judging those of us who will and those of us who will not get to the middle of August.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Does the Leader of the House recall that, on the many occasions when I have referred to the Johnson Matthey collapse, representations have been made from other quarters, notably from the Conservative Benches, to the effect that there has not been sufficient cover by the Bank of England to oversee the credit worthiness of banks generally? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we should have a statement to clarify the position? It has been reported, for example, that only one Bank of England official oversees the credit worthiness of every bank in Britain. Is it any wonder that Johnson Matthey collapsed without anybody from the Bank of England having been made aware of what was happening? Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that that is in strong contrast to the way in which district auditors have an army of people crawling all over Lambeth and elsewhere trying to stop councils from carrying out the mandates on which their councillors were elected?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I take at once the importance of the present investigations into Johnson Matthey and the items that are related to it. I shall look at the matter and see how soon a report can be made on it.

Photo of Mr Max Madden Mr Max Madden , Bradford West

Was the Leader of the House at the Cabinet meeting when the Secretary of State for Social Services presented a slide show on his proposals for the dismantling of the welfare state? As the Government are denying the House and the public any detailed information about those proposals, if the right hon. Gentleman thought that the slide show had any merit, will he arrange for hon. Members to see it before we debate the proposals?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

Unlike, as far as I can judge, every member of every Labour Cabinet, I never comment on what happens in this Cabinet.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

Is the Leader of the House aware that since visa restrictions were imposed on Tamil people trying to leave Sri Lanka to come to this country there have been serious problems for those going to the British high commission in Colombo to apply for a visa? Is he further aware that, at 3 o'clock in the morning on Tuesday, a young man who had attended the high commission to try to get a visa was pulled out of the queue by the police and beaten up at the local police station? Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that the decision by the home Secretary and the Foreign Secretary about Sri Lanka merits urgent and important debate in the House because of the implications for the future of refugee status for any asylum seekers from any part of the world?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

The hon. Gentleman will recollect that I have already told the Leader of the Opposition that there is in prospect a debate on immigration, which will cover many of the points that the hon. Gentleman has in mind. I cannot offer a debate in advance of that.

Photo of Mr Ronald Brown Mr Ronald Brown , Edinburgh Leith

As there has already been a call for a debate on the condition of the police force, would it not be appropriate to have an urgent debate to consider the plight of victimised miners, especially as in Scotland the coal board has consistently refused to reappoint Jack Kane, a recognised conciliator? This is disgraceful and it should be the subject of a debate in the House.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I recognise the hon. Gentleman's interest in this matter, but I can see no early prospect of the debate that he seeks being held in Government time.

Later

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. When the Leader of the House was trying to answer the question that I put to him, the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) interjected a remark to prevent me from hearing the answer.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

Is it in order for an hon. Member, who is about to go on a trip paid for by the puppet Government of South-West Africa, to try to prevent other hon. Members from hearing Ministers' answers?

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

We have had enough about hearing answers in the House today. It is incumbent upon us to set a good example of free speech. We cannot possibly expect the rest of the country to respect this place if we do not set a good example.

Photo of David Winnick David Winnick , Walsall North

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. What are your powers regarding entries in the Register of Members' Interests? Concern has been expressed outside, and should be expressed inside, the Chamber that free trips for hon. Members are not being entered in the register. I think that you should give a ruling, Mr. Speaker. If an hon. Member is going on a free trip, no doubt he will put in an entry to that effect. That is essential because otherwise, to a large extent, the register becomes meaningless. Will you give a firm ruling that if an hon. Member goes on a trip organised by a foreign Government he is under an obligation to ensure that an entry is put in the register?

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

The rules governing the Register of Members' Interests are well known to the House. They have been laid down by the Select Committee and every hon. Member should declare his interest. As I understand it, all overseas visits are recorded.

Photo of Nicholas Winterton Nicholas Winterton , Macclesfield

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. For the benefit of those rather unpleasant Members who are very happy to take free trips behind the iron curtain—I am making no individual accusation when I say that—I put it on record that on Saturday I am going to South-West Africa as a guest of the multi-party conference of the internal parties, black, white and brown, of that country, to attend the inauguration of the transitional internal Government, comprising the internal parties. I am happy to declare that and it will be registered, as I have always done in the past, in the Register of Members' Interests.

Several Hon. Members:

rose

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. I think that we have had enough of this. I have a long list of right hon. and hon. Members wishing to take part in the defence debate, and we should really move on to the next statement.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. I have already had one point of order from the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. This arises out of something that you said in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn). May I have an assurance that, when you said that every trip should be registered, you were saying, from the authority of the Chair, that that is what you would expect in the next compilation of the register? It would be handy if that were the case.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

The hon. Gentleman is most helpful in drawing my attention to the rules of the House. He and the House know that it is not for me to interpret the rules on Members' interests made by the Select Committee on Procedure. They are laid down and known to very hon. Member. I hope that every hon. Member will obey them.

Photo of Mr Andrew Faulds Mr Andrew Faulds , Warley East

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wonder whether the party of the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) could prevail on him to make a permanent series of foreign visits.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. Let us leave this matter of foreign visits. I hope that the House will agree that it is not wrong for hon. Members to make visits to overseas countries. They enhance our debates and hon. Members are able to come back and express to the House their observations and personal experiences. It would be detrimental to our proceedings if that did not happen.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Will you accept that it is wrong for the hon. Member for Macclesfield to make incorrect innuendos concerning Labour Members about trips paid for by foreign Governments that they have not made?

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

Order. I think that the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) was honourable in what he said. The hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) made the accusation in the first place and the hon. Member for Macclesfield said that his visit would be recorded in the Register of Members' Interests.