Business of the House

– in the House of Commons at 3:44 pm on 6 March 1986.

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 10 MARCH—Debate on a motion to take note of the 1986 farm price proposals and the proposed milk outgoers scheme. Details of relevant EC documents will be given in the Official Report.

Debate on a motion on the second report of the Privileges Committee in Session 1984–85 (House of Commons paper No. 555).

TUESDAY 11 MARCH—Until about Seven o'clock debate on a motion to take note of EC document 5635/85 relating to a common policy and liberalisation of shipping. Details of relevant documents will be given in the Official Report.

Motions on the Local Government (Temporary Provisions) (Northern Ireland) Order and the Appropriation (Northern Ireland) Order.

At Ten o'clock the Question will be put on all outstanding supplementary Estimates and Votes.

WEDNESDAY 12 MARCH — Opposition Day (10th Allotted Day). Until about Seven o'clock a debate entitled "The City" followed by a debate entitled "Support for Students in Further and Higher Education". Both debates will arise on Opposition motions.

Afterwards, a debate on a motion to take note of EC documents relating to Community steel. Details of the documents concerned will be given in the Official Report.

THURSDAY 13 MARCH — Proceedings on the Consolidated Fund (No. 2) Bill.

FRIDAY 14 MARCH—Private Members' motions.

MONDAY 17 MARCH—Progress on remaining stages of the Gas Bill (1st Allotted Day).

The House will wish to know, Mr. Speaker, that it will be proposed that the House should rise for the Easter Adjournment on Thursday 27 March until Tuesday 8 April.

[Monday 10 March


Relevant European Documents

(a) 10174/85Milk production: outgoers scheme
(b) 8480/85Reform of the Common Agricultural Policy
(c) 5098/86Corrigendum to 8480/85
(d) 4130/86Future of Community Agriculture
(e) 10492/85Reform of Cereals Regime
(f) 4150/86Beef Regime
(g) 4075/86Report on situation in agricultural markets 1985
(h) 4963/86CAP Prices 1986–87

Debate on Tuesday 11 March


Relevant European Document

(i) 5635/85Maritime transport policy

Wednesday 12 March


Relevant European Documents

(j) 5194/84Steel industry objectives for 1985
(k) 8293/85Community steel policy after 1985
(l) 9300/85Steel production quotas
(m) 9301/85Aid to the steel industry after 1985
(n) 8779/85Social measures in the coal and steel industries: Contributions to the ECSC Budget,1985–1987
(o) 4493/86Compensatory measures against United States restrictions on certain steel imports

Relevant Reports of European Legislation Committee

  1. (a) HC 21-iii (1985–86) paragraph 2.
  2. (b) HC 5-xxx (1984–85) paragraph 10.
  3. (c) HC 21-xiii (1985–86) paragraph 1.
  4. (d) HC 21-ix (1985–86) paragraph 1.
  5. (e) HC 21-vii (1985–86) paragraph 2.
  6. (f) HC 21-x (1985–86) paragraph 3.
  7. (g) HC 21-xiii (1985–86) paragraph 1.
  8. (h) HC 21-xiii (1985–86) paragraph 1.
  9. (i) HC 5-xxi (1984–85) paragraph 5.
  10. (j) HC 78-xxii (1983–84) paragraph 2.
  11. (k) HC 5-xxx (1984–85) paragraph 9.
  12. (l) HC 5-xxxi (1984–85) paragraph 6.
  13. (m) HC 5-xxxi (1984–85) paragraph 6.
  14. (n) HC 21-iv (1985–86) paragraph 1.
  15. (o) HC 21-viii (1985–86) paragraph 2.]

Photo of Mr Neil Kinnock Mr Neil Kinnock Leader of HM Official Opposition, Leader of the Labour Party, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

I am tempted to ask the Leader of the House whether he will take up the kindly offer of the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to provide us with daily statements on the continuing saga of the British Leyland affair. If we have daily statements, they will have to be made before the close of play and we shall have to call the period injury time.

In answering questions yesterday, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry refused repeatedly to give a time scale or timetable for the sale of Land Rover, Freight Rover, Leyland Trucks and related businesses. Today's press reports suggest that the Government plan to complete the sale by Easter. Can the right hon. Gentleman tell me whether that is true? Will he ensure that in any event the House is given time to debate the matter before we rise for the Easter recess on 27 March?

In view of the sentiments expressed by a senior spokesman for the President of the United States about that Administration's hostility towards Nicaragua and its readiness to contemplate the use of military force against that country, will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that the Foreign Secretary makes a statement next week on the Government's attitude towards President Reagan's policy? If his policy was carried into effect, it would pose a further threat to the stability of the central American region.

In view of the apparently well-founded story in this morning's edition of the Financial Times about proposals for narrowly limiting the future programme content and powers of the BBC, will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that no action will be taken in that direction until the House has had a chance to consider it and to raise objections to it?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

The time scale and timetable, to quote the words of the Leader of the Opposition, for the handling of Leyland were outlined yesterday in the House by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.

As for a debate on the matter this side of the Eager recess, perhaps that is something that we can consider through the usual channels. I shall convey to my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary the right hon. Gentleman's anxiety that he should make a statement on the policy of the United States towards Nicaragua.

Finally, I must confess that I do not have the same zeal for reading the capitalist press as the right hon. Gentleman and I have not seen the references in the Financial Times to the future of the BBC. However, I am sure that it is a subject that would merit debate in the House.

Photo of Mr Tom Sackville Mr Tom Sackville , Bolton West

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the House has not yet received satisfactory answers to the issue of the 200 acres of opium poppies that are said to have been grown experimentally this year? Does not this growing of opium poppies make nonsense of the Government's eradication programme overseas as well as of the attempts of the police and Customs and Excise to interdict the importation of heroin? Will my right hon. Friend allocate time to debate this issue fully?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I must confess that I came into the Chamber with a virginal innocence about opium poppy growing in the United Kingdom. It seems pre-eminently a matter to be raised during the proceedings on the Consolidated Fund Bill.

Photo of Mr David Alton Mr David Alton , Liverpool Mossley Hill

Although I regret the official Opposition's decision not to support our request for a debate on the future of historic buildings and monuments, especially Kenwood House at Hampstead heath, will the Leader of the House arrange for a debate on our prayer in a Committee of the House?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I certainly hope that we could make arrangements for it to be debated upstairs.

Photo of Mr John Biggs-Davison Mr John Biggs-Davison , Epping Forest

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I am not asking for a debate next week on early-day motion 280 which now has the support of 170 hon. Members—

[That this House notes the widespread concern felt in Parliament by eminent scientists, by other responsible observers and by members of the public who have viewed programmes on the matter screened by Channel 4, that Anne Maguire, Patrick Maguire (senior) Vincent Maguire (then aged 17), Patrick Maguire (then aged 14), Sean Smyth, Patrick O'Neill and the late Giuseppe Conlon, sentenced in 1976 to long terms of imprisonment since served, now appear, despite confirmation of their convictions at the time by the Court of Appeal, to have been entirely innocent of the crime with which they were charged; further notes at the conclusion of debate in the other place on 17th May 1985, the recognition by the Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Home Office of the strength of feeling on this matter in that House and his pledge to draw the attention of the Secretary of State for the Home Department to what had been said; and therefore earnestly urges the Secretary of State for the Home Department in the interests of the highest standards of British justice of which this country needs to feel rightly proud, to move without delay for a review of these convictions, either under the provisions of section 17 of the Criminal Appeal Act 1968, or by such other public process of review as he may deem appropriate to this disturbing case.]— but I am asking him to ensure that we have an early statement from the Home Secretary or perhaps a Law Officer of the Crown to allay the growing misgivings in the House and the country about the miscarriage of justice in the Maguire case?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I acknowledge my hon. Friend's central role in raising a wide degree of parliamentary interest in this topic. I will refer his request to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department. Meanwhile, I hope that he will not totally dismiss the possibility of using the Consolidated Fund as providing an opportunity to raise the matter.

Photo of Mr Guy Barnett Mr Guy Barnett , Greenwich

As joint treasurer of the United Kingdom branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, of which you, Mr. Speaker, are president and the Prime Minister is the chairman, may I draw attention to early-day motion 528?

[That this House joins with all other parliaments throughout the Commonwealth in the observance of Commonwealth Day on Monday 10th March 1986; and recognises the importance of the work of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association which brings together parliamentarians throughout the Commonwealth who share a community of interest and the positive ideals of parliamentary democracy.]

Is the Leader of the House prepared to associate the Government and this House with that expression of Commonwealth good will in connection with Commonwealth day on Monday? Will he take this opportunity to welcome Commonwealth parliamentarians from all over the world who are presently our guests?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

As long as we understand that the Commonwealth is fairly intangible in its implications, I shall be very happy to give my good will to the motion.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Dickens Mr Geoffrey Dickens , Littleborough and Saddleworth

Will my right hon. Friend consider providing time for an urgent debate on the vexing question of the entry of child brides into the United Kingdom? When my right hon. Friend is considering such a debate, will he bear in mind that the British section within the Swedish embassy in Tehran, by issuing the visa, has knowingly commissioned a crime in the United Kingdom of unlawful sexual intercourse with girls under the age of 16? It is therefore an accessory before the fact. Such a debate would give us the opportunity of expanding more fully the notion "When in Britain do as the British do or go back to your country of origin."

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I note what my hon. Friend says. The Home Office has already said that it intends to take action in respect of the child bride issue which has recently become topical. I advise my hon. Friend to seek the many opportunities that he will have to raise this issue on his own account.

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

Will the Leader of the House find time in the not-too-distant future for a debate on the subject of building safety standards? A recent written answer I received stated that no fewer than 25,000 people were injured last year in their own homes by coming into contact with glass in door frames, window frames or other matters. It seems clear that the glass is too thin and that our standards are wholly inadequate.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

The hon. Gentleman raises a point which probably falls within the authority of the Department of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. I will certainly make sure that my right hon. Friend is made aware of the matter.

Photo of Mr Michael Latham Mr Michael Latham , Rutland and Melton

Does the ewelcome absence next week of the Second Reading of the Shops Bill mean that my right hon. Friend might be thinking again on this matter and that it might go down the black hole along with the Education (Corporal Punishment) Bill?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

That is an interesting speculation. Whatever I say will be read as a coded language to the world outside, but I have to say to my hon. Friend that the answer is, purely and simply, no.

Photo of Hon. Adam Butler Hon. Adam Butler , Bosworth

May I press my right hon. Friend on the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Rutland and Melton (Mr. Latham)? There have been newspaper reports to the effect that the Government are having second thoughts. I must ask him to recognise the very strong opposition to the Shops Bill. That opposition has been expressed to almost all Members of this House who have received many letters from their constituents, and there is also opposition within the House.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

The planned progress of this legislation is the very opposite of suggesting that the Government propose to abandon it.

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

Does not the Leader of the House consider it sad that the Government have not made a statement in this House on the assassination of Mr. Olof Palme, the Prime Minister of Sweden? He spent his life striving not only for the betterment of the Swedish people but internationally for peace, justice and the cause of peoples in the Third world.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

The precedents that have been observed in this case are absolutely consistent with what has happened on many occasions hitherto. I am sure that in all quarters of the House there will be deep regret about the assassination, and gratification that the British Government were represented at the funeral.

Photo of Mr Anthony Grant Mr Anthony Grant , Cambridge South West

I note that the Opposition have, rather surprisingly, chosen a different subject for their Supply day next week, but will my right hon. Friend look favourably on the possibility of a debate in which the Leader of the Opposition will have the opportunity to express his profound thanks to the High Court for doing the job with the loony council that he wanted done?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

Given the many roads that I must tread in contrary directions, the best way to answer that is to congratulate my hon. Friend on his ingenuity.

Photo of Mr John Ryman Mr John Ryman , Blyth Valley

The Leader of the House has often been asked questions about scandals in the City of London. Could he arrange for a debate to be held in the near future on the Government's competition policy, bearing in mind the chaos in connection with takeover bids, and the extraordinary decisions that are being made by the Director General of Fair Trading? I am thinking in particular of both of the Guinness bids and both of the Argyll bids for Distillers, and the Hanson bid—Lord Hanson happens to be a staunch supporter of the Prime Minister—the Sikorsky-Westland deal, United Biscuits and many other decisions. They are wholly inconsistent with the avowed policy of first taking public interest into consideration. Will the Minister look into that because it is a serious matter which smells and savours of fraud?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

Leaving aside the innuendo, which is unworthy of the hon. Gentleman, if he genuinely wishes to attend to this topic, he will certainly have a chance next week during questions to the Department of Trade and Industry.

Photo of Mr Harry Greenway Mr Harry Greenway , Ealing North

Has my right hon. Friend noticed that various London boroughs, including Ealing, Chelsea, and Fulham and Hammersmith, have announced substantial rate reductions following the abolition of the GLC, which doubled the rates when the present Labour group took it over in 1981? May we have an early debate on the matter, and include in it the fact that the GLC is at present giving £81,000 to Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament groups to set up spurious nuclear-free zones in London, and is fighting in the courts to give away £96 million to various other spurious groups? Would not that £96 million be handy in the hands of pensioners to assist in solving their heating problems?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I am sorry to disappoint my hon. Friend, but I can hold out no prospect of such a debate in Government time in the near future. I hope that he will feel that he has the consolation that by the skilful way in which he put the question he has practically made the speech that would have occurred to him if such a debate were held.

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

In view of the earlier comments on the surcharges on Lambeth and Liverpool councillors and in the absence of a statement or debate on the matter, the Leader of the House will not be surprised to learn that in the City debate contrasts could well be drawn between the way in which the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer protected the villains of the Johnson Matthey bank, and gave aid and succour to the crooks at Lloyd's who are now in America and elsewhere, having got away with £13 million, and the way in which the 80 councillors stood by their promises, mandate and people and gave the services to their electors which the Government failed to provide.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I note that the hon. Gentleman kindly gives me an indication of what I might hear if I am in my place during next Wednesday's debate, should he be called. He will do the Conservative party a great service if he sets out to be the protector of those who have recently been found guilty in the courts.

Photo of Mr John Farr Mr John Farr , Harborough

Can my right hon. Friend say how the House is to be kept informed about the critical multi-fibre arrangement negotiations? Will there be a statement in the House next week after the meting of the Council of Ministers on Monday and Tuesday? If the House is not satisfied that the Government's attitude is sufficiently robust, will he promise an opportunity for an early debate?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

My hon. Friend will be aware that we have frequently had negotiations about the multi-fibre arrangement and I am certain that the same parliamentary formality will apply on this occasion as has applied hitherto. I will certainly draw the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to the anxiety that has just been expressed.

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Brent South

The last time that the Leader of the House looked at my early-day motion on Sadler's Wells he made a claim for entry in the "Guinness Book of Records" as the greatest philistine in the House. However, at the same time he said that there was a possibility that he would discuss the matter with the Minister for the Arts. Has he done so?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

Yes, and I will be in touch with the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Mr Ivor Stanbrook Mr Ivor Stanbrook , Orpington

Bearing in mind that the Shops Bill will arouse great bitterness and will be strongly contested in this House, does my right hon. Friend plan that, when the Bill comes before the House, the Government will announce that they are prepared to accept a concession of substance which, while reconciling the law with modern needs, will nevertheless preserve the special character of Sunday?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

My hon. Friend will be the first to appreciate that that is a responsibility of the Minister in charge of the Bill. I will certainly draw the Minister's attention to that point.

Several Hon. Members:


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

Order. I draw the attention of the House to the fact that there is an Opposition day ahead of us, and it is only a half day. A large number of right hon. and hon. Members wish to take part. Will hon. Members please put their questions very briefly?

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

Has the Leader of the House seen the report in The Guardian today suggesting that Trafalgar House has been given the green light to take over Vickers of Barrow? As that has implications for thousands of jobs in the county of Cumbria, will he ensure that a statement is made next week which will set out precisely what the position is in relation to these negotiations?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I will draw the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to that point. I appreciate its importance. Meanwhile, the hon. Gentleman will be aware that that Department will be answering questions on Wednesday.

Photo of Mr Tim Rathbone Mr Tim Rathbone , Lewes

Will my right hon. Friend, in his new-found wisdom, reconsider his suggestion that the Consolidated Fund would provide an appropriate opportunity to debate the question of growing opium poppies? Will he find time for a major debate in Government time to discuss drugs misuse about which the Government are doing so much in so many ways and yet, in this particular area, are running contrary to their own thrust?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I am grateful for the fact that my hon. Friend attributes wisdom to me, although it is slightly tarnished by the suggestion that it is newly found. However, I cannot reasonably and helpfully say more than I have about the possibility of a debate in the next few days.

Photo of Mr Stephen Ross Mr Stephen Ross , Isle of Wight

As the Leader of the House confirmed on the radio last Sunday that the buck finishes with him in the way that we run this place, will he find time next week to come to the third floor of Norman Shaw North and inspect the loos and the windows, and witness the draught from the windows and the lifts that do not work, and do something about them?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I am not intimidated by a question like that. I will gladly do what the hon. Gentleman suggests.

Photo of Tim Yeo Tim Yeo , South Suffolk

Does my right hon. Friend agree that it might be an instructive experience for the House and particularly for Oppositon Members to debate matters in which Government policy has been conspicuously successful? Does he feel that a few hours of Government time could be agreeably passed in debating the way in which the fall in the price of oil has been weathered without any catastrophic rise in interest rates or a collapse in sterling?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

My hon. Friend makes an extremely pertinent point and underlines the importance of having a liberal economic structure and liberal foreign exchange rates. I will bear in mind my hon. Friend's points, although I confess that I cannot offer an immediate prospect of a debate in Government time. Whenever there is Government time available, his suggestion will be an early candidate for debate.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

Will the Leader of the House ensure that before the House rises for the Easter recess a full and thorough debate is held on the Government's immigration and refugee policy, particularly in the light of revelations earlier this week that one Conservative Member claimed that the real purpose of the Home Secretary's proposed guidelines to immigration controls is to prevent Members of Parliament from taking up immigration cases? Does he not think that that is an extremely serious matter and that the experience of many hon. Members during the Christmas recess, when there was clearly a difference in attitude expressed by the immigration authorities, should not be repeated during the Easter recess? For that reason alone, an urgent debate is necessary.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

The way that the hon. Gentleman has put his case does not make me an immediate captive of it. I do not accept in any sense his premise. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has already said to the House that he would like an early opportunity to debate the proposals on the new guidelines on immigration. The timing of any debate on that topic is perhaps best left for discussion through the usual channels.

Photo of Mr Derek Spencer Mr Derek Spencer , Leicester South

When the Local Government Bill returns to the House, will my right hon. Friend ensure that steps are taken to toughen the Bill? The idea that local government proceeds in a spirit of gentlemanly co-operation is not widely shared by the Labour councillors on Leicester city council. They recently voted another £2,500 to the Labour national local government unit and a similar sum to the local peace action group.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I am sure that my hon. and learned Friend will appreciate that his remarks are better directed at the Minister in charge of the Bill. I will draw the Minister's attention to his point. Opinions expressed in another place properly have a call upon the time of this House.

Photo of Tom Clarke Tom Clarke , Monklands West

Has the Leader of the House had time to study early-day motion 500 signed by 126 hon. Members from both sides of the House and the amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner)? [That this House expresses concern at the recently published consultation documents relating to the DisabledPersons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Bill; would regret any steps that might remove or emasculate vital clauses of this Bill, including those which safeguard the interests of carers of persons leaving long-stay hospitals or leaving full-time education by providing a coherent personal plan to meet their individual needs; and while accepting the duty to avoid unnecessary bureaucracy, declares that it is inconceivable that services to meet the needs of disabled people can be adequately planned if they are not subject to prior assessment; recognises the overwhelming support for these objectives of the Bill amongst disablement organisations; and calls on the Government to allow the Bill to reach the Statute Book without weakening its provisions.] Does he appreciate that the Government's consultation document which invited a response received that response yesterday and that the overwhelming reaction of the people consulted and chosen by the Government supported the Bill in its present form? Will he use his considerable influence to ensure that the Bill is undiluted on report and is given the Third Reading which public opinion expects?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I believe that we had this identical exchange a week ago—

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

It sounded the same. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman understands that I am obliged to take a muted view about what happens upstairs in Standing Committee, but I note what the hon. Gentleman has said.

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

My right hon. Friend may recall that from time to time he receives complaints about the leaking of Minister's speeches or Minister's statements. Of course that never happens, but he does receive complaints about it. Is he aware that I have a copy of the speech which the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Meacher) will make this afternoon? The deadline for release of that speech is 3.30 pm. The hon. Gentleman has not been in the Chamber and he is not in the Chamber now. Is that an abuse of the House, or is the hon. Gentleman simply being opimistic in believing that anybody will be bothered to read his speech?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

My hon. Friend raises an interesting point. I am stricken to know whether it has such novelty as to require consideration by the Procedure Committee or such outrage as to require examination by the Privileges Committee.

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

In view of the physical attacks on Her Majesty's Ministers and Members of Parliament at universities and colleges during the past few months, will my right hon. Friend arrange a debate on that matter? Will he arrange for a statement to be made by the Secretary of State for Education and Science about discipline in universities and a statement by the Home Secretary about what assistance the police can give in such situations?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

It is obviously improper for me to suggest what may or may not be in order in the second of the debates chosen for Wednesday. I should have thought that any discussion on higher education could well cover the points raised by my hon. Friend as they are very pertinent.

Photo of Mr Peter Bruinvels Mr Peter Bruinvels , Leicester East

As a member of the General Synod, may I welcome, for a change, my right hon. Friend's business statement? Presumably he has read early-day motion 90, which has been signed by more than 90 Members.

[That this House, noting the strength of feelings on the issue of the liberalisation of Sunday trading laws, believes that any votes on this subjct should not be the subject of a whip.]

I assume that my right hon. Friend has also seen early-day motion 538.

[That this House calls upon the Government to seek to amend the Shops Bill [Lords] so as to preserve the special character of Sunday and to have regard for the principles and conscience of those who would be affected by the total de-regulation of Sunday trading.]

The motion, signed by my right hon. Friend the Member for Bosworth (Sir A. Butler), calls for a traditional Sunday. Will he ensure that the debate in the House on the Second Reading of the Shops Bill is postponed for as long as possible? In looking at traditions in society, will he spare a thought for the people of Leicester who, for 50 years, have had alternating Conservative and Labour lords mayor each year? Suddenly, because there are 42 Labour council members, the Leicester people have been told they cannot have a Conservative lord mayor again. I hope that we will return to the traditional Sunday and to traditional ways of life, with alternating Conservative and Labour lords mayor each year.

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I must say that the traditional Sunday as observed on the Welsh border never gets entangled with mayoral politics. I am sorry that that should be so in Leicester. On the wider issue, may I say to my hon. Friend that, if I note with respect and almost reverence his points about Sunday, it is not to imply that there is any alteration whatsoever in Government policy. I must emphasise that whipping is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary.

Photo of Mr Tony Marlow Mr Tony Marlow , Northampton North

Will my right hon. Friend be kind enough to read the eloquent speech of the right hon. Member for South Down (Mr. Powell) during last night's European debate in which he set out, as only he could, the procedure whereby, when we considered the European Communities Bill, the House was able to look at the legislation line by line and to amend it bit by bit, because it transferred powers from the House of Commons to other institutions? As we shall shortly consider the Single European Act, does my right hon. Friend agree that it would be totally wrong not to allow an identical facility for amendment to the House when it is considering further transfers of powers?

Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , North Shropshire

I shall certainly look at that point.