Business of the House

– in the House of Commons at 3:45 pm on 15th June 1989.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

The business for next week will be as follows: MONDAY 19 JUNEOpposition Day (13th Allotted Day). Until about seven o'clock there will be a debate entitled "Investment in Transport", afterwards there will be a debate entitled "Civil Liberties and a Bill of Rights". Both debates will arise on motions in the name of the Social and Liberal Democrats.

Remaining stages of the Pesticides (Fees and Enforcement) Bill.

TUESDAY 20 JUNE—Remaining stages of the Self-Governing Schools etc. (Scotland) Bill.

Motion relating to the statement of changes in immigration rules (HC 388).

WEDNESDAY 21 JUNE—Opposition Day (14th Allotted Day, 1st half), until seven o'clock there will be a debate on an Opposition motion entitled "Food Safety, Research and the Nation's Health".

Third Reading of the Local Government and Housing Bill.

Ways and Means resolutions relating to the Finance Bill.

Motions relating to Scottish social security and community charges regulations. Details will be given in the Official Report. THURSDAY 22 JUNE—Until seven o'clock motion on the Northern Ireland Act 1974 (Interim Period Extension) Order.

Afterwards motion on the appropriation (No. 2) (Northern Ireland) Order.

FRIDAY 23 JUNE—Private Members' motions.

MONDAY 26 JUNE—Opposition Day (15th Allotted Day). There will be a debate on an Opposition motion. Subject for debate to be announced.

[Debate on Wednesday 21 June

Housing Benefit (Community Charge Rebates) (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 1989 (S.I., 1989, No. 361)

Community Charges (Information concerning Social Security) (Scotland) Regulations 1989 (S.I., 1989, No. 476)

Community Charges (Deductions from Income Support), (Scotland) Regulations 1989 (5.1., 1989, No. 507).]

Photo of Frank Dobson Frank Dobson Chair, House of Commons (Services): Computer Sub-Committee, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons

I thank the Leader of the House for his statement. Does he accept that it is intolerable that the new immigration regulations should be debated next Tuesday when they were made available in the House only yesterday? That has caused especial difficulty because of the European elections, and many hon. Members who are closely interested in the subject will not have an opportunity to study the new arrangements that are proposed before next Tuesday, the day of the debate. Will he consider postponing the debate to enable hon. Members on all sides of the House to study the detailed regulations and the Home Secretary's related announcements about DNA testing, and find an opportunity to debate them the following week?

In view of fresh evidence today from the Policy Review Institute that the YTS is failing young people, will the Government provide time for an early debate on their policy for training our young people, so that some improvements can be made before 1992 and our young people do not fall even further behind the training offered by our European competitors?

Returning to two old themes, it is now 15 months since the Government received the Griffiths report on care in the community. When are we likely to hear their response, and when shall we have the oportunity to debate that very important matter? On the other matter, which I have been raising for a long time, what progress or otherwise have the Government made towards establishing a scheme to substitute student loans for student grants? That has been promised for a long time and the Secretary of State for Education and Science does not seem to be making very much progress, even with the Tory bankers with whom he is discussing the matter.

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

The hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) asked me four questions about the business for next week. First, he complained about the time and the date that I have allocated for the debate on immigration issues. I agree that it is not the most convenient time in view of other matters, but it enables us to raise the subject. I believe that the time provided is adequate. In view of the hon. Gentleman's request, I shall see whether the matter can be pursued through the usual channels.

The Government fully recognise the importance of training and we are spending £3 billion on training provision now, as opposed to the £500 million spent in 1979. These matters were relevant to a Bill we were discussing a short time ago. I cannot promise a debate in the near future but I am sure that it is a subject to which we shall return when an opportunity presents itself.

I am not sorry that the hon. Gentleman asked about the Griffiths report because the subjects he mentions are up to him. However, he has raised the subject several times before and I can assure him that we attach great importance to the Griffiths report and the Wagner report. Work is ongoing on our proposals, which we shall bring forward in the near future. Given the complexities of the matter, we must give full consideration to the subject so that we reach the right answers. I am sure that the time for a debate will be when we have announced our proposals.

On top-up loans for students, as I said last week, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science hopes to be able to report his conclusions on the administration of the scheme quite soon now. The right time for a debate will be after that.

Photo of Mr Tony Marlow Mr Tony Marlow , Northampton North

As someone who for a great length of time has been concerned that measures should be introduced to cope with dog nuisance, may I say how delighted I am that the Government have given a commitment to introduce legislation. Can my right hon. Friend say when that legislation will be introduced? For example, will it be introduced in the other place during progress on the Local Government and Housing Bill? If so, will it also cover the new system for introducing byelaws swiftly and effectively.

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his welcome of the announcement made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. I cannot give him any further information now, but I shall bear in mind the points he makes.

Photo of Jim Wallace Jim Wallace , Orkney and Shetland

It is known that the Secretary of State for the Environment is considering the issue of strategic planning guidance for London and that an announcement is expected before the summer recess. Undoubtedly, the debate on transport on Monday will provide an opportunity to raise some of the issues about traffic congestion in the capital city. Will the Leader of the House acknowledge the genuine concern of hon. Members who represent seats throughout the country, not just in London, about the strategic planning of our capital city? The need for integrated planning is important and it will be an opportunity for a debate before the Secretary of State makes the announcement.

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

I recognise that these matters raise important considerations and that some of my hon. Friends have been asking me to find time for a debate. I have promised that I will consider the matter but, at this stage in the parliamentary year, I cannot promise absolutely that there will he time for a debate.

Photo of Mr Nicholas Baker Mr Nicholas Baker , North Dorset

Will my right hon. Friend accept thanks for what he has just said about future development plans, which I understand was included in his previous answer? Will he tell us when he will find time to discuss the Green Papers on the future of the legal profession?

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

I have been asked before about providing time for a debate on those matters. We had a short debate rather late at night on the Lord Chancellor's salary order during which the subject was raised. I wish I could find time for further discussion but I have a feeling that we shall return to it before too long.

Photo of Mr Nigel Spearing Mr Nigel Spearing , Newham South

Is the Leader of the House aware that on Tuesday and Wednesday week the Prime Minister and, no doubt others, will be going to the European Council Heads of Government meeting? Has he not received a letter from me in my capacity as Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee recommending a debate prior to that meeting? Is he not aware that the Treasury and Civil Service Committee has heard evidence from the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Governor of the Bank of England and will be issuing a report early next week? Surely a debate on this matter should come within the terms of the resolution of 30 October 1980. The fact that the Leader of the House has not announced a debate next week shows that the Government are not contemplating one. Will he reconsider the timetable and urgently schedule a debate of these important matters for next week, before the Prime Minister goes to Madrid?

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

The hon. Gentleman takes a deep interest in these matters and is extremely knowledgeable. I will always reconsider any matter that he raises at Business Question Time. However, as he said, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has recently given evidence to the Treasury and Civil Service Select Committee and I regret that as things stand now, I am unable to find time for a debate before the Madrid summit.

Photo of Mr Harry Greenway Mr Harry Greenway , Ealing North

Notwithstanding what you, Mr. Speaker, have just said about today's debate on the arts and heritage, will my right hon. Friend arrange for a statement on the Rose theatre as soon as there is any change, next week if necessary? Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the beautiful story by Oscar Wilde called "The Nightingale and the Rose" in which a nightingale thought it right to bleed its breast into the thorn of a rose which was fading, in order to save it. The rose bloomed beautifully but at dawn the nightingale fell dead. No one wishes to see anyone fall dead in this episode, but to save the Rose is worth a sacrifice.

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State was neither wilting nor likely to fall dead. He gave a good account of the Government's position on the matter. The best plan would be to have today's debate on the arts and heritage and to watch the developments, but I shall certainly bear in mind what my hon. Friend has suggested.

Photo of Kevin Barron Kevin Barron Shadow Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change)

When will the Government find time to debate the British coal mining industry? Is the Leader of the House aware that yesterday the Department of Energy announced another 15,000 job losses in that industry this year and that that is on top of the loss of some 140,000 jobs in the industry in the past four and a half years? When the industry has improved productivity by 75 per cent. in the past three years it deserves more protection from the Government than it is getting.

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

The hon. Gentleman asks when I can arrange a debate on the coal industry, and the answer to that is tomorrow, Sir.

Photo of Mr Michael Colvin Mr Michael Colvin , Romsey and Waterside

My right hon. Friend will recall that on Tuesday Parliament was lobbied by more than 100 workers in the electricity industry, representing the staff of Marchwood engineering laboratories in my constituency which undertakes work for the Central Electricity Generating Board. I have been struck by the response from parliamentary colleagues who support the workers' case, represented on the Order Paper by early-day motion 983:

[That, recognising that 80 per cent. of the electricity research work carried out by Marchwood Engineering Laboratories relates to nuclear power generation, this House calls upon Her Majesty's Government to allocate Marchwood Engineering Laboratories to the National Power Co., rather than, as proposed by the Central Electricity Generating Board, to Power Gen; but as a preferred alternative suggests that the principal Central Electricity Generating Board research facilities including Berkeley, Leatherhead and Marchwood should be combined to form an electricity research and development company which would bid for Rand D contracts from the power generating companies once the electricity industry was privatised.]

That calls upon Her Majesty's Government to reconsider their decision to allocate Marchwood engineering laboratories to Power Gen while 80 per cent. of its research and development work is nuclear-related. There has been a more sensible suggestion that the research and development capability of the CEGB should be incorporated into a single independent company to contract research and development work to the industry once privatised and that proposal is now gaining support. I am sorry to bounce this on my right hon. Friend, but will he consult my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy, who is at present considering the position, and suggest to him that the House should have an opportunity to debate that matter before he reaches a conclusion?

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

I have already consulted my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy, as I do on every early-day motion on the Order Paper as a matter of routine every week so that I come prepared. My right hon. Friend has received detailed representations on the matter from my hon. Friend and from representatives of the Marchwood employees. He is considering the matter most carefully and hopes to give a decision on the allocation of Marchwood shortly.

Photo of Mr Tony Banks Mr Tony Banks , Newham North West

Will the Leader of the House please arrange an early debate on advertising standards? We have just been talking about the Rose theatre, but has the right hon. Gentleman seen the advertisements—I have photographs of them—in various streets in London put out by Flowers brewery which say: Not all flowers are pansies". Is he aware that everyone knows that the slang word pansy refers to gay men and that that advertisement is causing a great deal of offence? I have received a number of complaints from my constituents. Those advertisements appear to have gone up in what one can only describe as the hard-drinking macho areas of London, where they are clearly calculated to try to stimulate homophobic attitudes among people. If the Leader of the House is not prepared to have a debate on that, will he make representations to his Cabinet colleague who is responsible for the Advertising Standards Authority to have those offensive advertisements taken down forthwith?

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

I do not know whether that is necessarily an appropriate matter for me to deal with in business questions. Whether the hon. Gentleman will be able to make the speech that he might want to make in the debate next Wednesday will depend, to an extent, on you, Mr. Speaker, and on his ingenuity, but it is just possible.

With regard to advertising standards and the drinks industry, I have talks with advertisers from time to time in my capacity as chairman of the Government committee on alcohol misuse. I find their representatives helpful and constructive in their approach to high and proper standards in advertising. I shall certainly see whether it is appropriate to discuss with them the matter raised by the hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Mr Jonathan Aitken Mr Jonathan Aitken , South Thanet

May I complain to my right hon. Friend about his apparent policy of allowing late debates or, even worse, no debates on EC issues of great importance? Is he aware that the absence of a debate before the Madrid summit is regretted in all parts of the House? Is he also aware that to tackle as important an EC directive as the one on broadcasting, as we did this week at 2 o'clock in the morning, is a matter of regret not just to individual members, but is now, apparently, the subject of an official rebuke from the Select Committee on European Legislation? Since that directive has now to come back to the House as a result of a decision in Europe, will he please guarantee that we shall consider it at an appropriate hour?

Photo of Mr John Wakeham Mr John Wakeham , Colchester South and Maldon

I have an enormous amount of sympathy with my hon. Friend and I entirely agree that our arrangements for dealing with the scrutiny of European matters is not satisfactory. I have done my best to try to encourage further consideration as to how we might improve such scrutiny. I have given evidence to the Procedure Committee and I am glad that it is considering this matter. I have had meetings with the Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee and I hope to have another meeting with him fairly soon. I have had discussions with right hon. and hon. Members from all sides of the House on how best we can deal with what is clearly a problem. If my hon. Friend would like to come to talk to me about how he thinks we could improve matters I should be delighted to see him.