Mr Norman St John-Stevas: I saw the play "Romans in Britain" in anticipation of Question Time today. I saw it in the course of duty. I thought it was an extremely bad play, scatological and somewhat offensive, but I do not believe that it is a case for suppression or censorship. Unsuccessful attacks on books or plays serve only to raise sales. When will we learn that lesson? After all, we learnt it first in 1877 when...
Mr Norman St John-Stevas: I would certainly welcome that decision if it were reached by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I shall not set out on the path of condemnation. There is the highest authority for saying: Condemn not and you shall not be condemned. I commend it to the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Foot) in his present travails.
Mr Norman St John-Stevas: I am sure that it is not beyond the ingenuity of the right hon. Gentleman to fit in that matter on Wednesday, for instance, when we consider the remaining stages of the Highways Bill [Lords]. As for thrills, we look for thrills these days to activities outside this Chamber.
Mr Norman St John-Stevas: This is a resumed debate on the subject of assistance to Opposition parties to help them in their parliamentary duties. This has become an established part of our practice. It is not anyone's intention to extend this aid to activities outside Parliament.
Mr Norman St John-Stevas: I have not received any application for such a statement from my right hon. Friend. I doubt whether the matter falls within his sphere of ministerial responsibility, but if the right hon. Gentleman wishes I shall certainly raise the matter with my right hon. Friend.
Mr Norman St John-Stevas: That is an interesting suggestion to fill in a hypothetical gap. In view of our shared interest in the Turf, I will give it consideration.
Mr Norman St John-Stevas: I will raise the matter with my right hon. Friend, but I am afraid that I cannot promise a debate next week.
Mr Norman St John-Stevas: No time is set for the ending of the debate. Depending on the progress made on the previous business, it could run for longer than the time that my lion. Friend states. I hope, however, that hon. Members who are thinking of talking this measure out will remember that when this Government were in opposition they enjoyed the benefit of these arrangements and, in equity, this facility should be...
Mr Norman St John-Stevas: I am afraid that I cannot promise a debate on that subject, important though it is. There may be an opportunity to raise it in the debate on the Address. As for recent events in the United States, I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman is shivering and shuddering. I think that he should be more optimistic. Things may turn out better than he expects.
Mr Norman St John-Stevas: We have been studying that draft for some time. I have been doing exactly what my hon. Friend has commended. If there is an opportunity to strike out a further Bill, I shall be the first person to take it.
Mr Norman St John-Stevas: The hon. Gentleman is not representing fairly what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said. The important report mentioned by the hon. Gentleman must be discussed. It is the Government's intention, at the earliest opportunity, to lay a Command Paper before the House giving their response. The report contains 40 major recommendations, and the Government must have the opportunity to be...
Mr Norman St John-Stevas: My responsibilty is to this House. I am delighted that we are setting the example. I hope that we shall be able to do even better in economical administration in future.
Mr Norman St John-Stevas: I cannot promise an early debate. The issue obviously raises difficult personal problems. The Government cannot disregard the decision of the courts in this matter. Before a removal is enforced the case is examined carefully. Discretion is and will continue to be exercised when there are compelling reasons for allowing a person to remain here in exceptional circumstances.
Mr Norman St John-Stevas: I am afraid that I cannot go further than I did in answer to the hon. Member for Crewe (Mrs. Dunwoody). I shall raise the matter with the Minister responsible.
Mr Norman St John-Stevas: I do not know what on earth the hon. Gentleman refers to. I do not speak in coded language in the House or anywhere else; I speak out forthrightly. Having read the motion signed by the hon. Member on the recent contribution to broadcasting late at night, my right hon. Friend the Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath), I shall give him an equally forthright observation on his motion. In view of the...
Mr Norman St John-Stevas: The hon Member is not up to date with his information about the dispute. I understand that it has just been settled. We are delighted at that. I understand that the "Princess" will now fly the Bahamian flag and the "Countess" will remain as it is. I hope that the unnecessary dispute has come to a happy conclusion.
Mr Norman St John-Stevas: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment is considering the Services Committee's fourth report—1979–80—of the survey of the stonework. He has agreed that urgent repair work should go ahead. The timing of a major stone cleaning and repair programme depends on the availability of funds.
Mr Norman St John-Stevas: That is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. I am not responsible for the programme. Questions should be addressed to my right hon. Friend.
Mr Norman St John-Stevas: It is not a matter of arts. It is a matter of the structure of the building. All apparently dangerous stonework in areas in regular use has been removed, and the work already approved by my right hon. Friend who has responsibility in this matter should ensure that the external structure is safe.
Mr Norman St John-Stevas: I shall pass on that observation to the appropriate quarter, but a certain amount of renovation for wear and tear, particularly in places such as the Division Lobbies and the Staircases, is necessary.