Business of the House

– in the House of Commons at 3:46 pm on 20th June 1985.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

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

MONDAY 24 JUNEOpposition Day (16th Allotted Day). There will be a debate on an Opposition motion entitled "The failure of Government policies to meet Britain's skill needs."

Motion on the European Communities (Definition of Treaties) (Third ACP-EC Convention of Lomé Order. Relevant EC documents will appear in the Official Report.

The Chairman of Ways and Means has named opposed private business for consideration at seven o'clock.

TUESDAY 25 JUNE—Second Reading of the European Communities (Finance) Bill. Command Papers 9548 and 9549 and EC Document 5046/85 will be relevant.

Consideration of Lords amendments to the Representation of the People Bill.

WEDNESDAY 26 JUNE—Remaining stages of the Food and Environment Protection Bill [Lords].

Motions on the Northern Ireland Act 1974 (Interim Period Extension) Order and the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978 (Continuance) Order.

THURSDAY 27 JUNE—Opposition Day (17th Allotted Day). Until about seven o'clock a debate entitled "Cuts in child benefit" followed by a debate entitled "Cuts in housing benefit" Both debates will arise on Opposition motions.

Motion on the Army, Air Force and Naval Discipline Acts (Continuation) Order.

FRIDAY 28 JUNE—There will be a debate on policing in the Metropolis on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.

MONDAY 1 JULY — Until seven o'clock, private Members' motions.

Consideration in Committee of the European Communities (Finance) Bill.

[European Community Documents to be debated: Monday 24 June (Debate on Lomé III Order)

Relevant documents
(a) 9910/82Commission Memorandum on Community's development policy
(b) 4126/83Relations with ACP States and the OCT-STABEX 1981
(c) 10505/83Relations with ACP States; Mining Sector
(d) 7382/84Commission Communication to the Council on the European Community and Africa
(e) (Unnumbered)Special Report of the Court of Auditors on the co-ordination of Community aid to third countries
(f) 10677/84Relations with ACP States and the OCT-STABEX; 1983
(g) 6380/85Draft Council and Commission Decision on conclusion of the third ACP-EC Convention of Lomé

Relevant Reports of European Legislation Committee

  1. (a) HC 34-iv (1982–83), paragraph 2 and HC 34-xi (1982–83), paragraph 2.
  2. (b) HC 34-xiii (1982–83), paragraph 3.
  3. (c) HC 78-xiii (1983–84), paragraph 2.
  4. (d) HC 78-xxxiv (1983–84), paragraph 5.
  5. (e) HC 5-ii (1984–85), paragraph 3.
  6. (f) HC 5-ix (1984–85), paragraph 3.
  7. (g) HC 5-xxi (1984–85), paragraph 8.

Tuesday 25 June (Debate on EC (Finance) Bill)

Relevant documents
Cmnd 9548Inter-Governmental Agreement on payments to finance the 1985 General Budget
(h) Cmnd 9549Revised text for a Council Decision on Own Resources (previously an unnumbered EC document)
(h) 5046/85Communication on the calculation of the corrective mechanism applying to the United Kingdom under the Own Resources Decision

Relevant Report of European Legislation Committee

(h) HC 5-xix (1984–85), paragraph 1.]

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, the Government have avoided giving time for a debate on the closure of skillcentres, despite our many requests. Will they now give time for a debate on the youth training scheme in view of the fact that we learnt this week that less than half of the youngsters are now securing jobs when they finish their time in the youth training scheme?

Secondly, the right hon. Gentleman will have seen yesterday's report from the Select Committee on Employment, which calls for a review of the cases of miners who lost their jobs as a consequence of the coal industry dispute. In the interests of natural justice and good industrial relations in the coal mining industry, will the right hon. Gentleman arrange for a debate on that report at the earliest opportunity?

Thirdly, in view of the fact that the European Communities (Finance) Bill is a measure of major constitutional significance, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to arrange the debate on Third Reading on a separate day so that this important question can be further debated in prime time?

Finally, in the light of the disturbing findings of last week's report from the Government's own adviser, the Advisory Board for the Research Councils, that as a result of the squeeze on the science budget British firms are having to cut back on research that is essential to the creation of new industry, will the right hon. Gentleman arrange for an urgent debate on what the board calls the "serious underfunding" of scientific research in Britain?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

We might consider through the usual channels what the right hon. Gentleman raised in respect of the YTS, but I should have thought that at least some of the points could be made in the debate that is proposed for Monday.

Undoubtedly the report of the Select Committee on Employment is highly contentious. It caused a good deal of division in the Committee. At this stage, we should await the Government's response to it as a first step.

With regard to having a Third Reading debate on the European Communities (Finance) Bill, which will be a free-standing matter, I take note of what is suggested by the right hon. Gentleman. I very much hope that we can meet him on that point. He will recollect that only last Friday we had a debate on science, which could cover the funding of science. I take note of what he says about that, but I cannot be optimistic about a further debate on that topic.

Photo of Mr Trevor Skeet Mr Trevor Skeet , Bedfordshire North

I hope that my right hon. Friend has read Sir John Kendrew's report on particle physics and CERN. In view of the fact that it will create a substantial precedent, and will also lead to many complications, I hope that my right hon. Friend will arrange a debate in which those issues can be thrashed out.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I know that my hon. Friend has taken an interest in CERN over almost as many years as he and I have been in the House. I cannot be too generous in my response for the same reason that I profered to the Leader of the Opposition, that we debated the topic last Friday. However, I hope that my hon. Friend will have luck in pursuing it through his own free enterprise methods.

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

Will the Leader of the House do something about the fact that prayers on two major issues in the name of my right hon. and hon. Friends are awaiting debate? They concern the immigration rules affecting the Tamils and rate capping. Is the right hon. Gentleman deterred in any way by the fact that the Labour party has not officially seen fit to add its name to those motions? Does he accept that in a variety of ways Labour Members have said that they, too, wish to see those debates take place?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

It is not appropriate for me to comment on the relationship between the hon. Gentleman and Labour Members. However, I am conscious of the fact that the business for next week which I have just announced does not enable debates on the prayers that he mentioned to take place. Perhaps we can keep in touch on the matter.

Photo of Mr Robert Rhodes James Mr Robert Rhodes James , Cambridge

Has my right hon. Friend's attention been drawn to the inordinate length of ministerial and Opposition Front-Bench speeches in the debate last Friday? After two hours on what was a private Members' day only three Back-Bench Members had spoken. A considerable number of hon. Members on both sides of the House were unable to participate in the debate. Will my right hon. Friend take that carefully into account when discussing these matters through the usual channels?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

My hon. Friend, I am sure in a good-natured and wholly unintended way, is mildly misleading. In fact, last Friday was a day for Government business, not a private Members' day. I take note of what he says about ministerial answers being longer than he would wish, but I hope that they made up in quality for what they strained in length.

Photo of Dr Jeremy Bray Dr Jeremy Bray , Motherwell South

Is the Leader of the House aware that it was because the Government put down a science policy debate for a Friday that many hon. Members were unable to take part in it, despite the fact that on the previous Friday there had been a very large attendance in the House? Is he further aware that the Kendrew report on particle physics had not been published last Friday, that it contains major recommendations on the balance of research funding, and that it makes serious criticism of the inadequacy of the Government's research funding?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for confirming that when important items of business are debated on a Friday the House is very well attended. I have to accept that the report to which he referred was published after the debate took place, but that does not alter the fact that in more general terms the subject has been recently debated. I should be misleading the House if I promised the prospect of an early repeat of that debate.

Photo of Mr John Watson Mr John Watson , Skipton and Ripon

Can my right hon. Friend confirm that so far this Session we have spent 41 hours talking about Scotland, 18 hours talking about Wales and no hours talking about Yorkshire? Which part of Britain does he believe to have benefited most?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I shall not answer that question, because I know that every hon. Member has already formed his own judgment.

Photo of Mr Dick Douglas Mr Dick Douglas , Dunfermline West

Will the Leader of the House reflect upon the answer that he gave to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition about the report of the Select Committee on Employment? There was a quick response to the report on drugs by the Select Committee on Home Affairs, so can we expect the sponsoring Minister to come to the House on Monday and give a clear indication of the Government's response to this important report? Many of my constituents have been out of work for over a year because they were dismissed by the National Coal Board. In Scotland, 203 miners have been dismissed, many of them for breach of the peace offences that involved small fines or no fines. May we have an assurance that the Government will make a statement that justice will be done?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

As I am sure the hon. Gentleman will have observed, this is a highly contentious report which has sharply divided the Select Committee. None the less, I shall ensure that his request for an early statement is brought to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy.

Photo of Mr Teddy Taylor Mr Teddy Taylor , Southend East

In view of the information in last Friday's Hansard that exports of cheap food to Russia have again broken all previous records and that they have increased by 1,000 per cent. since the Government came to power, will my right hon. Friend be willing to postpone next Tuesday's debate on the European Communities (Finance) Bill until we receive an assurance that the huge additional public spending by the European Community will not be used to finance the Soviet war machine?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I am not disposed to rearrange the business that I have just announced. I am certain that my hon. Friend will be only too able to make at great length the very pithy points that he has just presented.

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

May I draw the attention of the Leader of the House to the fact that the Select Committee's report on the misuse of hard drugs was published today? In view of the report in today's edition of The Guardian that the Prime Minister intends to take command of the drugs campaign — [Interruption]. I am very pleased that the Prime Minister is to take an interest in this matter. As she seems to think that co-ordinating committees will solve the problem, whereas additional resources ought to be provided in every region of the country so that the skilled advice and care that is needed can be made available, may we have a debate on this important matter before the Secretary of State's response is received, because that may take months?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

The hon. Lady will not expect me to comment, either charitably or otherwise, on what appeared in The Guardian, but I shall most certainly draw to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services the suggestion that the report of her Committee should be debated reasonably soon.

Photo of Mr Tony Marlow Mr Tony Marlow , Northampton North

Will my right hon. Friend have a quick and sharp word with my right hon. and learned Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who is sitting just along the Front Bench from him? Earlier this week, I tabled a priority written question for answer by today about the costs of Community membership for this country. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House will know that today we are to have a European Community debate. My questions are simple and do not require a great deal of calculation. Will my right hon. Friend ask the Chief Secretary what his problem is — whether he does not understand the questions, whether he does not have the staff to provide the answers or whether he is embarrassed by what the answers might be?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

All my representations to Treasury Ministers are couched in both the language and the attitude of total deference. I am delighted that my right hon. and learned Friend the Chief Secretary is in his place and has heard the anxieties of my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) and that I am not, therefore, required to communicate them to him.

Photo of Mr John McWilliam Mr John McWilliam , Blaydon

Is the Leader of the House aware that, under the disastrous organisation of the Health Service that was put in place by the present Secretary of State for Education and Science, a Tory party placeman, who does not even live in my local health authority area, used his casting vote for the closure of the most pleasant geriatric hospital in my constituency? When may we have a debate on the chronic underfunding of the Health Service in the north-west and the mismanagement and misorganisation of the Health Service generally?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I cannot accept the strictures directed at my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science or at Conservative welfare policy generally. I note the hon. Gentleman's point but, as it has direct constituency significance, I suggest that he might like to try his chances with an Adjournment debate.

Photo of Mr Harry Greenway Mr Harry Greenway , Ealing North

Because of the continued closure of a number of sub-post offices, may we have a statement at an early date from the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on his policy?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I shall certainly draw my right hon. Friend's attention to that point.

Photo of Mr Jimmy Hamilton Mr Jimmy Hamilton , Motherwell North

Will a statement be made by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, bearing in mind that British Telecom has made a £945 million profit after tax? Will this money be used to retain telephone kiosks, especially in Wales? If the money is not used for that purpose, will it be paid to the shareholders? It is imperative that a statement should be made on this matter.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I shall draw that observation to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.

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

In view of the obvious controversy surrounding the report of the Select Committee on Employment, does my hon. Friend think that it would be a good idea for the House to debate it as soon as possible?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I am sure that my hon. Friend knows that there is a recognised convention whereby reports are first subject to response by the Government. My hon. Friend is correct in highlighting the great interest in this report, which sharply divides those who served on the Select Committee — in contrast to the way in which Select Committees often purport to operate.

Photo of Kevin Barron Kevin Barron , Rother Valley

Will the Leader of the House ensure that there is an urgent debate on the report of the Select Committee on Employment? It is not as contentious as the right hon. Gentleman would have us believe. The report was accepted by a vote of five to three. All parties were represented among the five who accepted the report. The report makes only two points—first, that the reviews should accept ACAS procedures, and, secondly, that there should be a national review if people have not been reinstated at area level. The report asks only for justice. It is not clouded with the rhetoric used this afternoon by the Prime Minister about violence in relation to working and striking miners. That has nothing to do with the report.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

The hon. Gentleman is doing himself a disservice by trying to appear as a moderate. It is clear that this is a highly contentious report. It was carried by five votes to three. That omits the fact that two hon. Members had already left the Committee Room in high dudgeon. I have said that I shall draw the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy to the general interest of hon. Members in debating the matter. I am not trying to go back on that. I am merely observing that there are procedures that are normally observed in these matters. I imagine that the House would wish those procedures to be applied on this occasion.

Photo of Andrew MacKay Andrew MacKay , Berkshire East

In the light of the tragic scenes that are being played out in Beirut, would it not be appropriate for the House to have a debate on international terrorism before the summer recess? This would give some hon. Members an opportunity to express their concern at the Greek Government's attitude and decision to give in to terrorists' demands.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

My hon. Friend has raised a highly important and highly topical point, which I agree stands in its own right and is apart from the more general consideration of foreign affairs. I cannot offer an early debate in Government time to debate this matter, although my hon. Friend might like to use the opportunities that private Members have.

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

I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman heard all the exchanges during Question Time today when the Minister of State confirmed that the Government will make a written statement on Monday about the granting of three illegal pressure stock licences to vehicles from the Netherlands for mackerel fishing. This is an important issue in my constituency. Since the Government appear to be willing to sanction illegality and ill-gotten gains for the Netherlands at the expense of the British fishing fleet, will the Leader of the House ascertain whether it will be appropriate for the Attorney-General to take a legitimate interest in this matter?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I shall of course respond to that request, although I think it falls rather wide of my role in announcing next week's business. I was present during Question Time. I realise that this matter concerns the hon. Gentleman and his constituents and is also of concern because of the other principles that are involved.

Photo of Mr Spencer Batiste Mr Spencer Batiste , Elmet

My right hon. Friend will be aware of the recent publication of the export control order implementing last year's COCOM agreement. He will be aware also of the widespread concern in Britain and Europe about the way in which the United States Government seek to impose their domestic legislation on their allies and the damage that this is causing to high technology industries in Europe and to future co-operation in the manned space station programme and the strategic defence initiative. Will my right hon. Friend be able to find time for a debate on this issue before the order comes into effect at the end of July?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I shall certainly refer that point to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and and Industry. I know that that concern is widely felt.

Photo of Mr Alexander Eadie Mr Alexander Eadie , Midlothian

When the Leader of the House gives his judgment on the sixth report of the Select Committee on Employment on victimised miners, I hope that he will remember that a majority is a majority and that the Government will not amend it. Will the right hon. Gentleman consider holding a debate on this matter? Will he consider two important factors? First, according to the evidence given to the Select Committee, the NCB chairman was under the impression that only criminals should go before industrial tribunals. Secondly, no victimised miner in Scotland has been re-employed. The number affected is no longer 202; it is 203, because last week a young lad went before the courts and was fined for obstruction. The next day he was given his book by the NCB and was sacked. There is an urgent need for this debate. We want justice.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

That was more of a speech than a request for consideration of whether these items should be included for discussion during next week's business. I have suggested that there are procedures that are normally followed in dealing with reports of departmental Select Committees, even when they are as contentious and divisive as this one. I abide by that statement. I shall refer to my right hon. Friend the points that have been made by hon. Members.

Photo of Mr Peter Bruinvels Mr Peter Bruinvels , Leicester East

Does my right hon. Friend accept that too much time has been spent on European Assembly matters? Five days in two weeks is too much. Will my right hon. Friend look instead to the Surrogacy Arrangements Bill, which at the moment is tied up in the other place? As two children have already been born, and two more are due to be born, through surrogacy arrangements under commercial contracts, will my hon. Friend change the debate on Monday week, when we are due to debate European Assembly matters? Following discussions with Lord Whitelaw, will my right hon. Friend allow the Surrogacy Arrangements Bill to be brought before the House again so that we can outlaw surrogacy once and for all?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I do not agree with my hon. Friend. In these matters that affect our social, economic and constitutional affairs and derive from our Community relationships, it is vital that the House should assert its continuing presence. If it does not, others will fill the gap.

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

As hon. Members on both sides of the House are bringing miniature portable television sets into the Chamber to relieve themselves of the tedium of Government speeches and as reception was extremely bad during the last test match around the seat occupied by my hon. Friend the Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd), will the Leader of the House arrange for the report of the structural engineer to be debated before the next test match?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I know that, after a while, performing this task leads one to be totally unworldly, but I could not understand any of that.

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

Nor could I and if what the hon. Gentleman says is correct the matter should have been raised with me.

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

Is the Leader of the House aware that 1,300 workers in my constituency have been laid off by Talbot because of the failure of the Iranian Government to pay the company for 33,000 car kits in Newport docks? Is he further aware that those workers have been laid off for 32 months in the past six and a half years? Can the right hon. Gentleman arrange for the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to make a statement to the House, or for an early debate on the topic, so that Labour Members representing Coventry can raise with the Department of Trade and Industry what, if anything, the Government will offer to those workers employed by the car industry in Coventry, which has sadly declined in the past six years.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I shall convey to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry the points that have been made by the hon. Gentleman and his request for a statement.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth , Mid Worcestershire

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the proposed enlargement of the EEC to include Spain and Portugal could have the most profound effects both on the Community and on the United Kingdom? Is he aware that this matter has not been debated by the House except in my Adjournment debate before Easter? Therefore, will he allow the House to debate this vital matter before we take the irrevocable step of letting these two countries into the EC?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I shall bear that point in mind. There will be an opportunity for the House to debate the specific issue of the enlargement of the Community to include Spain and Portugal. I should have thought that later today, if my hon. Friend was lucky enough to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, he could make some of the points that he clearly has in mind.

Photo of Mr Raymond Powell Mr Raymond Powell , Ogmore

Will the Leader of the House consider, having listened to 15 minutes of points of order on Prime Minister's Question Time, whether he should persuade the Prime Minister to go to Brecon and Radnor so that she can see for herself how her policies are opposed by the electors of Brecon and Radnor, and are now even questioned by the Tory candidate? Will the Leader of the House persuade the Prime Minister to go to Brecon and Radnor on Tuesday and Thursday of next week so that we can have a refreshing change and so that she can learn a long-overdue lesson?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I take account of all the kind remarks made about my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. As to the parallel point, I should have thought that Mr. Butler, the Conservative candidate in the by-election, was showing the robust independence that will make him feel so at home when he comes to these Benches.

Photo of Mr Roland Boyes Mr Roland Boyes , Houghton and Washington

Does the Leader of the House recall that on four occasions recently I have asked whether we can have a debate about the Government's new board and lodgings regulations for under 26-year-olds? Does he recall that on the last occasion he said that the regulation had been implemented for only a short time and that we must wait? In this short time, a number of people have either committed suicide or attempted to do so. How many more deaths do there have to be before the Government will do something about this wicked, vicious, evil and unnecessary regulation?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

The welfare policy in its wider sense has been debated already this week. I do not disparage the acute personal problems to which the hon. Gentleman refers, but I cannot offer the likelihood of a Government debate on this matter in the near future.

Photo of Tony Lloyd Tony Lloyd , Stretford

I note that next Friday there is to be a debate on the policing of London. Does the Leader of the House recognise that there is concern about the policing of other areas, and in particular of great cities such as Manchester? We have already had the Prime Minister denying her personal responsibility for anything to do with the massive rise in crime in these areas. Is it not about time that we had a debate on policing generally and not simply on London policing?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I take account of the points that the hon. Gentleman makes. He will realise that having the debate on Friday underlines the importance of policing elsewhere, particularly in the large urban conurbations. However, I cannot help him out with the prospect of Government time for such a debate, at least in the near future.

Photo of Robert Wareing Robert Wareing , Liverpool, West Derby

What are the Government's intentions about public order legislation? We are only a few weeks away from the summer recess. On our return, are we to be met with another hotchpotch of legislation, of which the intention is more to do with further eroding people's civil liberties than with the real issue of crime, which is mounting under this Tory Government?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

The hon. Gentleman will recognise that I cannot anticipate what will be contained in the Queen's Speech, but, if he is interested in this topic, he is not likely to be disappointed.

Photo of Mr Michael Meadowcroft Mr Michael Meadowcroft , Leeds West

The hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Short) asked a question earlier. Has the Leader of the House seen early-day motion 714?

[That this House is concerned at the new evidence in Yorkshire of illegal drug trafficking and the involvement of young people in hard drug abuse; congratulates the Yorkshire Post on its detailed investigation into this urgent and serious problem; notes that the Select Committees on Home Affairs and on Social Services are undertaking enquiries into drug abuse; and calls for an early Parliamentary debate on their proposals further to inhibit supply and to rehabilitate addicts.]

Does he accept that the momentum of public concern needs to be kept up, and does he agree that the report of the Select Committee on Social Services on drug abuse provides a good opportunity for an early debate on this subject?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I take note of what the hon. Gentleman says, and I appreciate the good-tempered way in which he has put his question. He will realise that the answer that I give him will be no different from that which I gave the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Short).

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

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen early-day motion 770?

[That this House condemns the Banbury Coal Company of Northwick for importing domestic coal for the Lancashire area from South Africa through Liverpool Docks; regrets that the company is prepared to put at risk Lancashire mines and Lancashire jobs in favour of supporting economically the evil apartheid regime in South Africa; further regrets the special arrangements made with the company by the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company for handling this cargo which could lead to unrest amongst Liverpool dockers; and calls upon the Secretary of State for Energy to show his much vaunted support for the United Kingdom mining industry by seeking to prevent such unnecessary imports.]

It has been signed by nearly 100 hon. Members. Will the right hon. Gentleman ask the Secretary of State for Energy to make an early statement on why the Government are supporting the evil régime of apartheid and at the same time putting miners' jobs at risk?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

It would not be appropriate for me to engage in controversy with the hon. Gentleman about why it is felt prudent to have a second source in the supply of coal. I shall refer to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy the request that has been made.

Photo of Mr Gerry Bermingham Mr Gerry Bermingham , St Helens South

Has the Leader of the House read, as I have, the reports in The Times and the Financial Times on Monday this week that the Secretary of State for Energy is to pursue an energy conservation campaign over the next 12 months? Should not this matter be debated at length in this place before the campaign gets under way? Will the right hon. Gentleman be kind enough to tell the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is sitting on the Government Front Bench, not to interfere with the campaign on this occasion by imposing silly taxes such as VAT on double glazing?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

My newspaper reading is not as elevated as that of the hon. Gentleman, so I cannot confirm whether such a campaign is about to be launched. I shall draw the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy to those points. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will have heard, and discounted, the latter remarks made by the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Brent South

The Leader of the House will have studied with his usual care early-day motion 768.

[That this House resents the injustice to nurses and midwives caused by the way in which the Government has phased the recent pay award consequent upon the recommendations of the Review Body; and notes that, although giving the impression that an average of 8½ per cent. had been conceded, the reality is that for the year 1985–86 these dedicated workers will actually get 5·66 per cent. which may well prove less than the rate of inflation.]

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall the exchanges in the House expressing disappointment that the announcement on the pay awards was made by a written answer so that there was no opportunity for hon. Members to discuss it? As the award being arranged is now 1·34 per cent. below current inflation rates, will the Leader of the House arrange for either a statement or a debate at an early opportunity or at least before the recess?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

The hon. Gentleman is a well respected Member of the House and an old campaigner. Therefore, it will come as no surprise to him to hear that it is extremely unusual—almost unknown—for nurses' pay awards to be announced orally in the House. I shall refer his remarks to my right hon. Friend.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

Has the Leader of the House seen early-day motion 781?

[That this House believes that the policy of Her Majesty's Government towards asylum seekers from Sri Lanka is a serious departure from normal practice in respect of those fleeing from terror; further believes that the method of dealing with applications at Her Majesty's mission in Colombo is one that increases the danger to individual Tamil people; and calls upon Her Majesty's Government to end the visa requirement and to cease the policy of returning Tamil people to Sri Lanka who have expressed a fear of so doing.]

Does he accept that the imposition of visa requirements on people coming from Sri Lanka to Britain exposes Tamil people in particular to great dangers? Will he arrange for an early debate on this subject so that the Home Secretary can explain when the visa requirements will be lifted, and the Prime Minister can explain what went on in the meeting with Mr. Jayawardene in Sri Lanka?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

As I understand it, the visa requirements are kept under review, but I shall refer to my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary the anxieties that the hon. Gentleman has just expressed.

Photo of Ann Clwyd Ann Clwyd , Cynon Valley

Has the Leader of the House had an opportunity to read early-day motion 769?

[That this House recognises that the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act provides that employers with 20 or more employees have a duty to employ at least 3 per cent. registered disabled people (standard quota); regrets that only five of 44 Government departments fulfil the quota;and calls upon Government Ministers urgently to review their department's employment policy with the objective of reaching the 3 per cent. level as soon as possible.]

It has been signed by 61 Members and deals with the employment of disabled people by Government Departments. He will note that only five out of 44 Government Departments employ the 3 per cent. quota of disabled. Will he please ask Ministers to review their policy and to make a statement to the House

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I take note of what the hon. Lady says. I understand that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment is currently considering a report from the Manpower Services Commission on ways of making the quota scheme more effective. The implications of that for Government Departments will be give serious study.

Photo of Mr Peter Pike Mr Peter Pike , Burnley

In view of the recent decision of the European Court of Human Rights which criticised certain aspects of the immigration policy of this country, will the Leader of the House give us an assurance that a statement will be made by the Home Secretary before the summer recess? If the proposal is to be controversial, can he ensure that adequate Government time is provided for a debate on this important subject?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I recognise the clear interest in this topic. I shall certainly draw the attention of my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary to the point that has just been made.

Photo of Mr Donald Dixon Mr Donald Dixon , Jarrow

Will the Leader of the House ask the Secretary of State for Social Services to make a statement to the House about the position of British civilians who are working in the Falkland Islands and who may be affected by anomalies in the industrial injuries scheme?

One of my constituents took the advice of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, got on his bike at the end of last year and went to work in the Falkland Islands. He had a serious accident and came back to this country, only to be told that the industrial injuries scheme did not extend to the Falkland Islands. Is the Leader of the House aware that had that man been working in any EC country, in any Commonwealth country or in America, Austria, Finland, Iceland or numerous other countries with which we have reciprocal arrangements he would have been covered? Because he was working in the Falkland Islands, he is not entitled to benefit under the industrial injuries scheme.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

The hon. Gentleman raises a matter of great, even if narrow, significance. I shall pass his request to my right hon. Friend.

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Brent South

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am sure that the Leader of the House would not wish to be inaccurate. He stated that previous announcements on pay awards to nurses had been made by written answer. May I inform you, Sir, that in 1979 the present Lord Ennals made a statement orally in the House?

Photo of Stuart Bell Stuart Bell , Middlesbrough

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I should like your ruling on a case where Members come into the House after the Leader of the House has given the business for the following week and then put questions to him on that.

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

I cannot control when Members come into the House. I think one hon. Member came into the House somewhat late and was not called, but do not let us get into an argument about it.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh , Gainsborough and Horncastle

With respect, Mr. Speaker, I heard the statement. I had to leave for a second, but I came back. I had heard the statement.

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

Order. I do not think that a point of order can arise. Nothing happened. What is the point of order?

Photo of Stuart Bell Stuart Bell , Middlesbrough

I was referring not to the hon. Member for Gainsborough and Horncastle but to the hon. Member for Ross, Cromarty and Skye (Mr. Kennedy).

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

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker.

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

Order. It would put an impossible load upon me if I had to note not only who is in the Chamber but who comes in. That would be intolerable.

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

I am reluctant to prolong this exchange, but the hon. Member for Middlesbrough (Mr. Bell) is completely wrong. I have been here without a break since 2.30 this afternoon.

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

Order. I think we are getting into the July silly season rather early.