Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:32 pm on 9th May 1991.

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Photo of Mr Bruce Grocott Mr Bruce Grocott , The Wrekin 3:32 pm, 9th May 1991

May I thank the Leader of the House for arranging, for next Wednesday, a debate on the Government's public expenditure plans? I am afraid that that is the only thing for which I shall be able to thank him.

I know that what I am about to say upsets the right hon. Gentleman and that he will be annoyed again today, but I have to point out that the Government are running out of steam. Why is it that the two key debates next week—the one on the crisis in the health service, and the one on the famine in Bangladesh and Africa and the problems facing the Kurds—have been arranged by us in Opposition time, and that the Government have arranged no major debates on national issues in Government time? As the Leader of the House is running short of ideas, I put it to him that, for a start, it is high time we had a debate on unemployment. Yesterday, 10,000 redundancies were announced at British Coal and Rolls-Royce, making 15,000 in the last 15 days.

It is also high time for a debate on the education service. The Prime Minister seems to think that that service is important, but not important enough for a debate. Let me make an offer to the Leader of the House: if he cannot think of key issues for debate, let him hand over the precious parliamentary time to the Opposition, and we shall choose the subjects.