With permission Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a short statement about the rearranged business for this week:
TUESDAY 1 MARCH—Until about seven o'clock, motions on a Social Security Order and Regulations. Details are in the Official Report.
Resumption of the adjourned debate on the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Acts 1978 and 1987 (Continuance) Order.
Motion on the Appropriation (Northern Ireland) Order.
WEDNESDAY 2 MARCH—There will be a debate on Welsh affairs on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.
Motions on the Coal Industry (Restructuring Grants) and (Limit on Deficit Grants) Orders.
Motion on the annual report from the European Court of Auditors for 1986. Details are in the Official Report.
The business for the remainder of the week remains unchanged.
I thank the Leader of the House for his statement and welcome the opportunity to continue the debate on the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Acts order, but my colleagues from Scotland and Wales believe that they have not been treated quite as fairly. It appears that the business this week can be changed at the drop of a hat, yet Scottish Members are expected to debate the order on Paisley grammar school at some ungodly hour tonight. If the business for tomorrow could be changed so swiftly to accommodate the needs of Northern Ireland, my right hon. and hon. Friends from Wales believe that it could have been adjusted to enable the debate on Welsh affairs to be held on St. David's day. Apparently it was impossible to make the adjustment last week, but this announcement shows that it would have been possible to make the adjustment this week.
I thought that I had done pretty well to get the Welsh affairs debate as near to St. David's day as I have done. Before the hon. Gentleman continues in this tone, I suggest that he examines the record of the Labour Government, who often failed to provide time for a debate on Welsh affairs at this time of the year.
While thanking my right hon. Friend for so promptly and graciously acceding to the wishes of Back-Bench Members on both sides of the House for more time to debate the emergency powers, may I ask whether the necessity to alter the business does not bring out forcefully the unsatisfactory manner in which Northern Ireland business has been handled since the abolition of Stormont?
I assure the Leader of the House that the attachment of Plaid Cymru Members to Wales is not sentimental, so whether the debate takes place on St. David's day, the day before or the day after is immaterial. The important thing is to have regular debates, unlike the position under some Labour Administrations — [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Before Conservative Members cheer too much, may I ask the Leader of the House to confirm that the debate will be wide-ranging and that there will be no problems about ministerial arid departmental responsibility for the subjects covered in the debate? Will the debate cover the role of all Government Departments in Wales, and will the Secretary of State for Wales be free to comment on the activities of the Department of Energy?
As some compensation for the slight to Welsh Members, will the Leader of the House consider making arrangements so that in future debates in this place and elsewhere we can discuss the affairs of our country in both the languages of our country? Many of the debating chambers throughout the world succeed in debating in two, three, and sometimes as many as 10, languages. Surely it is within the realms of possibility that in this House, perhaps on an experimental basis at first, we can arrange to debate in both the languages of Wales.
As there are more people living in the west midlands than in Wales, and as more languages are spoken in the west midlands than in Wales, does my right hon. Friend agree that the Welsh get far more time in the House than those representing the west midlands, and that it is high time that that was reversed?
As the business of the House for tomorrow is being changed, and as it has been announced that the Secretary of State for Defence is giving a written answer today to a question by the hon. Member for Cambridge (Mr. Rhodes James) about the British commandos sent to their death by Waldheim's unit, is there any chance of a statement being made either before or after tomorrow's business, because the matters raised in that written question are immensely important? The families of those commandos are still alive, and one of them wrote to me yesterday. They are extremely concerned. It is now clear that not only Waldheim but his family have been involved in those matters in a way that should be brought before the House in a statement, not in a written answer.