The business for next week will be as follows: MONDAY 15 MAY—Private Members' motions.
Motion to take note of EC documents on taxation of savings. Details will be given in the Official Report.?
The Chairman of Ways and Means has named opposed private business for consideration at Seven o'clock.
TUESDAY 16 MAY—Opposition day (10th allotted day). Until about Seven o'clock there will be a debate entitled "The Soaring Cost of the Government's Publicity Machine". Afterwards there will be a debate entitled "The Decline of Manufacturing Industry". Both debates will arise on Opposition motions.
Motion to take note of EC documents on procurement procedures in the water, energy, transport and telecommunications sectors. Details will be given in the Official Report. WEDNESDAY 17 MAY—Progress on remaining stages of the Employment Bill.
Motion to take note of EC documents on control of concentrations. Details will be given in the Official Report. THURSDAY 18 MAY—There will be a debate on a motion to take note of the White Paper on Developments in the European Community July-December 1988 (Cm. 641).
FRIDAY 19 MAY—Private Members' motions.
MONDAY 22 MAY—Motion for the spring Adjournment.
Remaining stages of the Atomic Energy Bill [Lords], the National Maritime Museum Bill [Lords] and the Civil Aviation (Air Navigation Charges) Bill [Lords]. Mr. Speaker, the House will wish to know that, subject to the progress of business, it will be proposed that the House should rise for the spring Adjournment on Friday 26 May until Tuesday 6 June.
I thank the Leader of the House for his statement. We know that the Secretary of State for the Environment was seeking sanctuary yesterday rather than coming to the House, but will the Leader of the House arrange for him to come to the House later today or early next week to explain why the law of the land is still being flouted and why this poll tax leaflet was delivered through the letter box of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition only this morning as were tens of thousands of such leaflets elsewhere? When will the Government obey the ruling of the judge in this matter?
The Leader of the House said last week, when I asked him when we would have the long-promised debate on the Government's proposals to substitute student loans for student grants, that we would have a debate
when the current discussions with the financial institutions have been concluded".—[Official Report, 4 May 1989; Vol. 152, c. 364.]
According to newpaper reports today, those discussions are being concluded by a breakdown of relations between the Government and the institutions that they were trying to con into backing the scheme. Can we have an urgent debate, because the students, the universities, and above all, the students' parents are desperately keen to know what the Government will propose?
Will the Leader of the House also tell us when we can expect the long-promised debate on community care? it is now more than a year since the Griffiths report was received by the Government and during that time, hundreds of people who find it difficult to cope outside institutions without proper care have been turned out on to the streets. How many more thousands will be turned out before the Government come up with their response to the Griffiths report?
Will the Leader of the House tell us when we shall have a debate on the lamentable state of our preparations for 1992?
The hon. Gentleman raised questions that I imagine could feature in the debate next Tuesday. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government is the Minister responsible for local government matters and it was wholly proper and appropriate for him to respond to the private notice question yesterday. As he informed the House, the case will be heard in court on Monday. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment acted as quickly as possible to comply with the terms of the order on Tuesday. It is right that the Government should explain a change that will affect 35 million people clearly, concisely and accurately. That is what we have been seeking to do by means of the leaflet.
The hon. Gentleman also asked about student loans. As I have said in previous weeks, the best time for a debate on top-up loans for students will be when the discussions of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education with the financial institutions have reached a conclusion. We have not yet reached that stage, so I cannot undertake that there will be a very early debate, but I will keep the position under review. The discussions with the financial institutions are making good progress and there is absolutely no truth in the suggestion in today's press that they are close to breakdown.
The hon. Gentleman raised again the question of the Griffiths report and I recognise that there is much interest in the Griffiths report on community care. As I have made clear in recent weeks, the Government are actively engaged in work to formulate our own proposals, which we intend to bring forward in the near future. We are very mindful of the concern that there should not be undue delay, but it is essential to reach the right solution and there are no easy answers in this complex area. The time for a debate will be when we have announced our proposals.
Will my right hon. Friend say whether it will be possible to have a debate in the near future on the tragic events taking place in the Socialist Republic of Romania? Is my right hon. Friend aware that many hundreds of thousands of people are having their lives and homes smashed to bits, that people are being persecuted for wishing to follow Christian or other religious beliefs and that civil rights, to the extent they exist in Romania, are being denied daily to those who wish to have at least a modicum of freedom?
I certainly recognise the strength of my hon. Friend's point. Our right hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Sir B. Braine) raised the matter with me recently and he had many of the same considerations in mind. I am aware of the general interest in the matter and in a debate on foreign affairs. However, I am sure that my hon. Friend will appreciate that at this time in the season, the demands for time on the Floor of the House are particularly heavy. I will look for a suitable opportunity when I can see the time.
Is the Leader of the House aware that, regardless of whether the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Defence are right about the nuclear test veterans or whether I am right, the fact is that those men, who have served their country loyally and with great dedication, now feel aggrieved and embittered? The only way to solve their grievance is by a judicial inquiry. May we debate that next week please?
My right hon. Friend has announced a debate on EEC happenings of more than six months ago. Is he aware that many of us are far more concerned about what is likely to happen over the next six months? Will he ensure that the terms of the debate are drawn so that we can raise the whole matter of the prospects for the Madrid summit, the Delors report and other matters that are of great concern to hon. Members, irrespective of their view of the Community?
I cannot promise my hon. Friend that I shall do exactly that, although I shall consider his point. I realise that matters of European scrutiny are causing considerable dissatisfaction among a number of hon. Members on both sides of the House. I had a meeting with the Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee yesterday to discuss how such matters are handled and next week I shall be giving evidence to the Procedure Committee, which is also considering the matter. I hope that the collective wisdom of many hon. Members will enable us to find a better solution, and a better way of dealing with these matters in future.
Will the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food be able to come to the House next week to explain why full safety clearance has been given to the apple spray Alar, given thatt the United States Environment Protection Agency has reached the interim conclusion that it causes cancer, and will he set about initiating the cancellation of its chemical licence?
Will there be an opportunity for the House to discuss the reform of the legal services before the Government give their response to the representations made following their Green Papers?
I shall refer the first point to my right hon. Friend the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, and if a statement is necessary, he will make one. I cannot anticipate that.
I realise that the reform of the legal services is an important matter and that a significant number of discussion documents have gone out. As I have said in previous weeks, I do not see myself being able to find time for a debate on the Green Papers, although if the Government come forward with proposals, there will certainly be plenty of time to discuss them.
Will my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House ensure that the debate about the EEC next Thursday is wide enough to enable us to discuss the proposition that hon. Members should be encouraged—or at least able—to put their names forward for membership of the European Community in respect of constituencies in other countries?
In answer to the first question the Leader of the House referred to a change in the law affecting 35 million citizens. Does he appreciate that the cause of our complaint and the reason why we should like to raise the matter next week is that to 10 million couples—20 million of those 35 million citizens—the poll tax has not been explained satisfactorily?
The right hon. Gentleman has announced the business up to Monday, 22 May—the date when regulations Nos. 4 and 5 of the poll tax enforcement regulations come into force. In other words, it is the registration date from which the 21 days apply. Why has the House not so far debated any of the poll tax regulations, even though prayers have been laid? The 40-day period has long since passed and new orders have had to be put on the Order Paper. That date—22 May—is the key date. For those who had poll tax registration forms today, last week and the week before, the 21-day period does not start until 22 May. Why has the House not debated those regulations?
I think it best if I deal with the question of debates through the usual channels. I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's assertion that my right hon. Friend was wrong in what he said in his statement. However, that is a matter not for me but for the court next Monday.
Will the Leader of the House arrange for an early statement on the future of Short Brothers, Belfast? Is he aware that the company announced yesterday that there were to be 700 redundancies? It is vital that the House should have an opportunity, at the earliest possible date, to question the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland about the reason for these redundancies and discover whether they are a consequence of the past and present performance of the company or whether they are in preparation for privatisation. We need an early opportunity to press these questions.
May we have an early debate on the Government's propaganda machine? We could then discuss water authorities. Without any authority, they are embarking on a campaign on behalf of the Government, in which about.£30 million is involved. At the same time, the Yorkshire water authority is proposing to sell off customers' names, as it claims, to raise revenue—revenue that, presumably, will work on behalf of the Government. Is it not time that we had a debate, a statement or Government intervention to stop a public service industry, which is publicly owned at the moment, propagandising on behalf of the Government?
If the debate next Tuesday is not about that matter and some related interests, I have no idea why the Opposition sought to put it down for debate. Opposition members will get a firm answer in that debate, and matters will certainly be clearer afterwards. The advertisements about which the hon. Gentleman is talking are purely commercial matters for the companies concerned to decide.
Does my right hon. Friend recognise that, further to the EEC scrutiny point, there will be dismay among members of the Select Committee on European Legislation and other hon. Members that the Lingua programme documents are not to be debated next week, before the meeting of the Education Council of Ministers on Monday 22 May? The Select Committee has recommended those documents for debate. Does that not make a laughing stock of the whole business of scrutiny?
I had a meeting with the Chairman of the Select Committee yesterday. I thought that we made considerable progress in identifying ways in which we might be able to improve some of those matters. I recognise that they are not totally satisfactory at the moment, but I am struggling to find better ways of doing it.
The Leader of the House has clarified the position of the Football Spectators Bill. Apart from the utter insensitivity of the Bill towards Hillsborough, will not the Bill come rather late to the House? Will he give the House an assurance that an early guillotine will not be imposed in an attempt to railroad the Bill through the House, when genuine divisions of opinion do not necessarily conform to party lines? Will he at least make sure that the Football Spectators Bill is not part of an elective dictatorship?
The Government have decided to have a pause in the passage of the Football Spectators Bill to allow a period of reflection following the Hillsborough tragedy. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made clear, it is our intention to complete the Bill this Session. The Bill enables us to deal with the long-standing problem of football hooliganism and take account of any relevant recommendations that Lord Justice Taylor might make. Questions about guillotines and matters of that sort are totally hypothetical at this stage.
Is my right hon. Friend able to announce any progress in the long-standing discussions about sheltering from the weather our constituents who want to visit this place? If we can erect a permanent-looking structure on the Terrace, why can we not think of something for our constituents?
I appreciate that these matters have taken rather a long time, but, as my hon. Friend knows, some quite complex discussions are taking place with those along the passage and with others. We are seeking to make progress. I hope that it will not be too long in coming. I apologise to my hon. Friend for the delay.
When he considers the business for next week will the Leader of the House bear in mind that the House is under an obligation to find time in July for a debate on Hong Kong? In Hong Kong, about 5 million people for whom the House is responsible are anxious to hear the views of the House on the report of the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs on the revised basic law draft for which the consultative period will terminate before the House resumes in the autumn. This is a major issue in which the House has an important part to play. Will the Leader of the House confirm that time will be found for a debate?
Further to the questions that have been directed to my right hon. Friend about foreign affairs, does he not agree that there have been some remarkable changes all over the world with direct or indirect effect on Britain? Will he recall that he was sympathetic some time ago to the idea of having regional debates on foreign affairs? Does my right hon. Friend, therefore, not conclude that the logic of those two important factors means that we need to have many more foreign affairs debates than we have been used to in the past?
I know that my hon. and learned Friend is keen on having more foreign affairs debates, but there are only a certain number of days in the year and only a certain number of debates can be fitted into that period. I am sympathetic to my hon. and learned Friend's point of view and I will do my best. However, I cannot do the impossible with the number of days available.
In view of the Government Actuary's report on our pension scheme, and the possibility of the Treasury reducing its contribution because it feels that there is too much money in it, should there not be a debate about it in the House? After all, hon. Members are concerned, for example, about the widows of late Members, whose benefits could be increased if there is more money in the fund than is necessary. Surely, we should have some say about what happens to our money.
I do not think that there is much doubt that before too long the House will have some say in those matters—whatever I might think about it. I hope that I can help the hon. Gentleman by telling him the position. I have been in touch with his right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris), who is the chairman of the managing trustees. I have suggested that he and I, together with his fellow trustees, should have a meeting in the near future to discuss how best to deal with those matters.
Will my right hon. Friend accept that, regrettably, his answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dyke) is totally unacceptable? The Lingua programme extends European competence into a field in which it has not had competence before. There will be a meeting of the Council on this subject on Monday week, when a decision might be taken. If we have not debated it in the meantime, Parliament will have no influence over an extension of Community competence. Will my right hon. Friend do something to increase the power and influence of this House over European legislation? We hear today that the European Commission is conniving and cobbling together with the European Parliament measures on exhaust emission, which are against the recommendations of the Council and against the interests of the environment, but which are in favour of increasing the power of the European institutions that are cobbling this together. This is totally unacceptable. There is nothing we can do about it, because we cannot assemble a blocking minority in the European Council. Could my right hon. Friend look into this? The Government got us into this mess. It is totally undemocratic. How the hell are we going to get out of it?
My hon. Friend understandably went rather wider than the question of next week's business. I have already indicated that I regret that I have not been able to fit in the debate that he and my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes) wanted. I will look into the matter and see what, if anything, can be done about it.
So far as my responsibilities go—the scrutiny by the House on European legislative matters—I agree that matters are not satisfactory and I am seeking to find a way that will improve the situation. On the more general matters of European policy, I believe that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has made her position and that of the Government extremely clear.
Is the Leader of the House aware that every year some 70,000 African elephants are illegally killed and that 80 per cent. of the world trade in ivory, much of which goes through Hong Kong and other places in the far east, is also illegal? Today the Tanzanian Government have made application under the 1973 Washington convention for the registration of the African elephant as an endangered species.
Will the right hon. Gentleman find time for the Government to arrange a debate on this subject in which they could indicate their support for the Tanzanian application for registration and the actions that they are taking, within their power and purview, to prevent trade from illegal ivory coming through the British Crown colony of Hong Kong, which is a major conduit and a major cause of the death of so many African elephants and other endangered species?
Obviously, without looking into this. I cannot accept everything that the hon. Gentleman has said. Nevertheless, I recognise that this is a serious matter and although I cannot promise him an early debate on it, I shall certainly bring the matter to the attention of my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary. I shall either write to the hon. Gentleman myself or I shall ask my right hon. and learned Friend to do so.
While welcoming the debate next week on the EEC and appreciating the contraints on Government time, may I ask my right hon. Friend to confirm that the last time that we had a debate in this House on non-EEC foreign affairs was in November last year on the Queen's Speech? In view of the enormous and significant changes taking place in Eastern Europe, will my right hon. Friend at least give some thought to the possibility of a debate on Eastern Europe, especially in the light of next month's visit by General Jaruzelski of Poland?
My hon. Friend is right that there is a need for such a debate and I wish that I could find an early date on which to hold one. However, although I shall do my best, I cannot promise such a debate in the immediate future.
Is the Leader of the House aware that the non-elected Tories on the Bassetlaw district health authority are seeking to have the Bassetlaw district general hospital opt out of the current administration? Surely that action is illegal since there has been no legislation on this matter and it is being taken solely on the strength of the published White Paper. Will the right hon. Gentleman check up on this with his right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Health, on whose advice 50 hospitals have now decided to opt out? The Secretary of State for Health must be using some loophole that goes against the traditions of the House if he is encouraging such actions before we have seen a Bill, held a Committee stage or had the enactment of any legislation whatsoever.
My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Health is absolutely right to seek discussions among the hospitals to ascertain what sort of interest there is for the proposals in his White Paper. There will be legislation soon enough. The hon. Gentleman's real problem is that so many hospitals seem to think that this is an interesting proposal.
Will my right hon. Friend find the time next week to arrange a debate on the attempted Minorco takeover of Consolidated Gold Fields, bearing in mind that the Takeover Panel has recently sought to move the goalposts and that some of us feel that the takeover should not be permitted to go ahead until we have had a chance to debate it on the Floor of the House?
The Leader of the House has referred to conversations with myself about European scrutiny. May I thank him for giving me the opportunity of presenting the views of the Scrutiny Committee and say that we look forward to his evidence to the Select Committee on Procedure in due course?
Will he turn his attention to two items of business for next week? In relation to Thursday's business, is he aware that the Scrutiny Committee believes that it will be more useful for six-monthly debates to be prospective, even if on a subject suggested by the Government, rather than retrospective? In respect of the business that he announced for Wednesday, which he said was "control of concentrations", will he confirm that that is a proposal to transfer control of mergers from the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and Her Majesty's Government to the Commission in Brussels? If it is, does he think that even at this early stage, one and a half hours after ten o'clock is a suitable length of time for debates of such importance, and will he reconsider that?
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for what he said about our meeting yesterday. I am glad that he is looking forward to the evidence that I shall be giving to the Procedure Committee next week and I look forward to his evidence which, I believe, will be given the week afterwards, although I am not absolutely sure of the date.
I shall certainly look at the terms of the motion for next Thursday to see whether there is any way in which I can meet the hon. Gentleman's request. I must confess that when I saw that I was to announce a debate on "control of concentrations" I was not too sure what it meant, but it is to do with EC matters in relation to company mergers, which is an important issue. The question of how long the debate should be is a matter for discussion through the usual channels.
May I draw my right hon. Friend's attention to early-day motion 835?
[That this House condemns the actions of the Warrington and Runcorn Development Corporation and the honourable Member for Rossendale, the Junior Minister at the Department of the Environment, in ignoring the wishes of the tenants of Warrington and Runcorn Development Corporation to have a ballot so that they can determine thelandlord of their choice, instead of having housing associations foisted upon them; and calls upon the Warrington and Runcorn Development Corporation and the Department of the Environment to give the tenants the opportunity to exercise their democratic rights.]
Will my right hon. Friend find time to debate this early-day motion. It incorrectly asserts that the tenants of the Warrington and Runcorn development corporation will not be given a choice about their future landlord. Should not that mistake be set right? Should we not have an opportunity to put forward the advantage of housing associations over Socialist borough landlords?
Absolutely. It is an important issue and I wish that I could find time to debate my hon. Friend's point. I can confirm that there is no question of denying tenants the right to choose their ultimate landlord. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State has made it clear that there will be a ballot about transfer of housing when the necessary legislation is in place, and that tenants' wishes will be respected. Meanwhile, the housing associations are being used on a temporary basis as management agents at Warrington.
The Leader of the House has already agreed that there should be a debate on the Select Committee's report on toxic waste and the Government's response to it, which many people consider disappointing. When does he envisage that the debate will take place? Have he and his right hon. and learned Friend the Government Chief Whip not been able to pencil a date into their diaries for that debate?
Why is the Second Reading of the Human Organ Transplants Bill to be taken in Committee upstairs rather than on the Floor of the House? My right hon. Friend knows that a small number of people are opposed to the Bill and they will be deprived of the opportunity to participate in the discussions. Those, who like me, take such a view, feel resentful that we shall be unable to make our voices heard on the matter.
I recognise that my hon. Friend holds views on this matter. I think that he will agree that his views are probably in a minority but, nevertheless, they must be respected. The reason for the Bill being considered by a Second Reading Committee is that that is what the House resolved to do. The Bill will return to the Floor of the House on Third Reading. I do not know whether my hon. Friend is on the Committee.
Would it be possible to have a Question Time slot every time the so-called Secretary of State for the Environment is taken to court? That has become such a regular event that perhaps there should be such a slot.
Has the Leader of the House had discussions with the Home Secretary about the proposed rally this weekend of Nazi fanatics? Why are well-known Nazi and fascist fanatics being allowed into Derbyshire for an event that is deeply deplored by the overwhelming majority of British people? Why has there not been a statement from the Home Secretary?
The hon. Gentleman's first suggestion would have the disadvantage of guaranteeing that he would be at every session to ask a silly question. The hon. Gentleman's second point is serious and I shall refer it to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.
I agree with those who say that next Thursday's debate should be prospective. Will the House have the opportunity soon to debate the interesting work on new roads and railway lines said to be taking place in the Department of Transport? Will we he able to link that with the recent welcome statement by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury about abolishing the Ryrie rules and therefore allowing a new increase in private capital, in addition to expanded public provision?
I can imagine that my hon. Friend's last point, which is important, could well form part of the discussion in the later stages of the Finance Bill. The matter relating to roads is important, but I cannot promise an early debate on it, although I feel that it will arise in one form or another before too long.
In his answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick), the Leader of the House said that he would refer to the Home Secretary the problem of the proposed European neo-Nazi gathering in the east midlands. Is he aware that what is required is not a referral but a statement tomorrow, or it will be too late to prevent people with criminal records for violence from entering the country, and too late to prevent the event from occurring?
Is the right hon. Gentleman further aware that we need a full debate on the infiltration of Nazi movements into this country, not least because of the rally on 27 May at which, apparently, there is to be a skinhead concert organised by a man with a criminal record for violence—a person called Ian Stuart of the Screwdriver band? We must take these matters seriously. For some reason that I do not understand the Home Secretary, who is a resolute opponent of Facism and Nazism, has not replied to the letter I wrote to him 10 days ago. May we have an urgent statement?
I still think that I was right to answer the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) by saying that I would refer the matter to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary. My right hon. Friend is of course already aware of these matters and is no doubt taking whatever action is appropriate. However, in view of the concern I shall see to it that this is drawn to his attention.
Will my right hon. Friend undertake to arrange for a suitable amendment to be tabled to the Opposition's Supply day motion on publicity next Tuesday, so that the House may consider the position of the Leader of the Opposition who, among others, has to receive mendacious literature on housing, education and other matters from Ealing council? Can arrangements be made for him to be sent the true facts about the issues on which the council has misinformed people?
Further, can an amendment be tabled to enable the House to consider the wrongful expenditure of taxpayers' and ratepayers' money on minority interests which discriminate against the majority? I have in my hand a leaflet that Ealing council has put out at public expense advertising a self-defence course in Ealing that is only for lesbians, thereby discriminating against all other women.
The Government will certainly consider what is the appropriate amendment to table to the Opposition motion for the debate next week. We cannot do that until we have seen the terms of their motion. There is nothing to stop my hon. Friend tabling an amendment to the motion if he wants to do so. Which amendments are selected is a matter not for me but for Mr. Speaker.
Will the Leader of the House confirm that the Home Secretary is still in charge of the BBC? Does he realise that there has been a series of strikes there in the past few weeks? When many of us on the Labour Benches visited the picket lines at Bush house, Broadcasting house and the Television centre we were astonished to learn that there are people at the BBC who take home.£80 a week, while others, such as Wogan, pick up millions. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the top four directors at the BBC have had a salary increase of 33 per cent. in the course of the past year, bringing their total earnings between them to.£340,000? What is good enough for Tory apparatchiks at the top of the BBC should be good enough for those doing the donkey work.
I can understand that the hon. Gentleman has had a hard week. He has spent the week having his basic Socialist principles marketed by other people and I do not think that he liked it very much. I can understand why he asks such a ridiculous question.
The Home Secretary is not in charge of the BBC, as the hon. Gentleman knows full well. The BBC operates under an independent charter; perhaps some of us might have different views on it if it did not.
My right hon. Friend has arranged for a debate on Europe on Thursday. As, in future, many decisions that affect Britain will be taken by the Council of Ministers, will he arrange for such decisions to be discussed in future at a reasonable hour in this House a short time before Ministers attend the council, so that hon. Members may express their views on matters that are vitally important to our constituents?
My hon. Friend is quite right. Part of the review should enable us to have debates earlier, with at least a number of them being at a more convenient time. Perhaps there might be a better allocation between the debates that are held upstairs and those which are late at night. It requires agreement with hon. Members in all parts of the House. That is what I am seeking to obtain.
Will the Leader of the House arrange next week for time to be available for the Minister of State, Home Office, the hon. Member for Oxford, West and Abingdon (Mr. Patten) who replied to question No. 3 this afternoon to withdraw the statement that he made about a school in my constituency, Ellesmere road? The statement was totally misleading and scurrilous. It will do nothing to resolve the small problems in that inner-city school. May I inform the House that this morning, contrary to what the Minister said, there was an assembly with parents, teachers and pupils present? While there have been some small problems, it does no credit to the Minister to come to the Dispatch Box and try to exploit the problems that we have in the inner city. The school is on an even keel and it is well managed. It is under an education authority that has been commended by Her Majesty's inspectors.
I do not accept for a minute the strictures of the hon. Gentleman, but I shall certainly refer to my hon. Friend the points that the hon. Gentleman has raised.
Can my right hon. Friend find time for a debate in the near future on the rights of our fellow citizens in Northern Ireland to representation in the House by the mainstream political parties in view of the overwhelming vote yesterday at the Perth conference by the Scottish Conservatives in support of Irish Conservatives who wish to have official Conservative candidates to vote for? Surely he must think that it is wrong that we exclude 1·5 million of our citizens from full participation in the political process that we all enjoy.
I recognise that it is an important point and that my hon. Friend has strong views on it. I am not sure that it is a matter appropriate for debate in the House, certainly not at present.
The Leader of the House was quite wrong to dismiss in such a peremptory fashion the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) when he asked for a debate about the BBC dispute. It affects the House because BBC listeners were deprived yesterday of the opportunity to listen to the delightful experience, in which we were all able to participate, of Gummer-baiting. We should have an opportunity to debate the matter. It seems appropriate that we should discuss a dispute that has been caused by management at the top of the BBC giving themselves 30 per cent. increases while telling the rest of the workers in the corporation that they have to take a pay cut. Will the Leader of the House reconsider his answer? Can we have a debate on the position within the BBC? Perhaps we could combine it with a discussion about televising Parliament.
We have debates on broadcasting from time to time but, as the hon. Gentleman well knows, pay within the British Boradcasting Corporation is a matter for the management and the staff to negotiate and deal with. It is not in my view a matter that is suitable for debate in the House. That is the point. With regard to a television debate, the hon. Gentleman will be pleased to know, though not as pleased as I am, that the report has been completed and will be published in the very near future.
You are a real expert, Mr. Speaker; you always leave quality to the very end. Is the Leader of the House aware that I serve on a Select Committee and work like billy-oh? One person who comes to the Select Committee is a marvellous man from a wonderful Department, the Parliamentary Commissioner. Is the Leader of the House aware that many hon. Members from both sides of the House make use of that wonderful Department? Since I have been here we have never had a debate on the report of the Parliamentary Commissioner. I ask the Leader of the House to pull his socks up and consider having a debate on the report on the Floor of the House so that people outside as well as in the House may know about the Department and exactly where they should go with their problems.
I certainly share the high opinion that the hon. Gentleman has of himself, and I think that it is also shared by hon. Members on both sides of the House.
This is the first time since I have been Leader of the House that I have been asked for such a debate and I shall look at the matter. I cannot promise the hon. Gentleman that I shall arrange such a debate in the near future, but, coming from him, the request has a better chance than if it came from anyone else.