Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Complete list of 8,000+ Thatcher statements & texts of many of them

1975 Jul 3 Th
Margaret Thatcher

HC PQ [Business of the House]

Document type: speeches
Document kind: House of Commons PQs
Venue: House of Commons
Source: Hansard HC [894/1677-89]
Journalist: -
Editorial comments: Around 1536-1602.
Importance ranking: Minor
Word count: 4535
Themes: Economy (general discussions), Energy
[column 1677]

Business of the House

Mrs. Thatcher

May I ask Edward Shortthe Leader of the House to state the business for next week?

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Edward Short)

Yes, Sir. The business for next week will be as follows:—

Monday, 7th July—Private Members' Motions until seven o'clock.

Afterwards, consideration of a time-table motion on the Petroleum and Submarine Pipelines Bill.

Remaining stages of the Child Benefit Bill. [column 1678]

Tuesday, 8th July—Supply [24th Allotted Day]: A debate on the Plight of Voluntary Organisations, until about seven o'clock. Afterwards, a debate on Arms Sales. Both will arise on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Remaining stages of the Statutory Corporations (Financial Provisions) Bill.

Wednesday, 9th July—Supply [25th Allotted Day]: A debate on the Royal Navy, on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Motion on financial assistance to Alfred Herbert Limited.

Thursday, 10th July—Supply [26th Allotted Day]: A debate on a motion to take note of the Third Report from the Expenditure Committee, Session 1973–74, on postgraduate education and the Third Report of 1974 on education maintenance allowances, together with any Special Reports, until about seven o'clock.

Afterwards, a debate on a motion to take note of the Seventh Report from the Expenditure Committee, Session 1974 on police recruitment and wastage and the related Special Report.

Motions on the Weights and Measures 1963 Act Orders relating to dried vegetables, flour and flour products, and cereal breakfast foods and oat products.

Friday, 11th July—Private Members Bills.

Monday, 14th July—Supply [27th Allotted Day]: Subject for debate to be announced later.

Mrs. Thatcher

Although we shall make our views on the timetable motion known in detail on Monday, is the Leader of the House aware that the Opposition do not think that it is necessary to bring forward this motion at the moment and that we shall protest most vigorously when the time comes?

Is the right hon. Gentleman in a position to give us any more information about when the White Paper on economic measures will be published? Will it be at the end of next week? Will the Boyle Report come with it, or after it? When will the economic debate take place? Surely the right hon. Gentleman can undertake that no legislation based on the White Paper will be brought forward until [column 1679]the House has had a chance to debate it fully.

Mr. Short

First, on the timetable motion, we have still a long way to go to catch up with the Conservative record in this respect. But certainly it will be a very generous allocation of time, and discussions can take place through the usual channels about the way in which the time is allocated. I hope that we shall reach agreement on that.

The White Paper will be published towards the end of next week. I am not sure whether the Boyle Report will be published at the same time, but it will be roughly the same time.

I do not know yet when the economic debate will take place. We can discuss this through the usual channels. Certainly there will be an extended debate before the Summer Recess.

Mrs. Jeger

Has my right hon. Friend had time to consider Early-Day Motion No. 551, signed by Members of all parties, suggesting that a Select Committee of this House should visit Cyprus at an early opportunity?

[That a Select Committee be appointed to visit Cyprus on a fact-finding mission and for the purpose of examining what steps the United Kingdom may reasonably take to comply with their responsibilities imposed under the Treaty of Guarantee (Command Paper 1253):

That the Select Committee shall consist of Ten Members.

That the Select Committee shall report upon their findings to this House and pay particular regard to the plight of British residents in Cyprus and any steps recommended to assist in this regard.]

Mr. Short

Yes, Sir, and, as I said last week, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary and I have been discussing this matter. I hope that we can find a way of meeting this request before the Summer Recess.

Mr. Stephen Ross

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the experiment in broadcasting our proceedings finishes tomorrow? Does he not think that it would be a good idea for this to be continued until the Summer Recess? It will be an expensive business to remove the equipment, and there is widespread pub[column 1680]lic interest in what goes on in this Chamber. What is more, there is impending legislation and debates are coming forward which will also be of great interest to the public. Could we not have a discussion through the normal channels or, if necessary, a debate to see whether this experiment should be extended?

Mr. Short

I should be happy to discuss this through the usual channels. However, the Resolution of the House was for an experiment, and the experiment ends this week. I think that the House will want an opportunity for a debate on this matter while it is fresh in our minds. But there are a number of very important questions to be settled, not least the question of how we finance it. I shall bear in mind what the hon. Gentleman said.

Mr. Urwin

Does my right hon. Friend recall his several promises to me and to the House in the recent past about the early introduction of a Bill to combat labour-only sub-contracting in the construction industry? Can he now say how soon this Bill will be introduced?

Mr. Short

Yes, Sir. The necessary legislation—a Bill or an order—will be one of our top priorities in the next Session.

Mr. Emery

Although it could in no way take the place of a full debate on the Floor of the House, will the right hon. Gentleman consider the possibility of referring the problems of unemployment, economic run-down and the lack of Government interest in the West Country to the new Regional Affairs Standing Committee, so that we may have a debate on these matters before the rising of the House, and will the right hon. Gentleman realise that we make this request only because we shall not get time on the Floor of the House because of the chaotic state of Government business?

Mr. Short

I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for suggesting this procedure. The first debate in that Committee takes place on 9th July. It is a debate on the North-West Region. Certainly I shall bear in mind the hon. Gentleman's request for a second debate in this Committee.

Mr. Radice

Will my right hon. Friend tell us when the Government will [column 1681]announce their intentions on industrial democracy?

Mr. Short

No, Sir. I cannot say when. But I undertook last week to ensure that a statement on behalf of the Government would be made in the very near future. It will be.

Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop

As between 20,000 and 30,000 people are about to lose their jobs as a result of the shortage of milk for manufacturing into butter, cheese and cream, when will the Government give time for a debate on their own statement “Food from our own resources” so that we may know what action, if any, the Government intend to take to prevent any further rundown in the dairy herd? The Leader of the House has said several times that he would draw this matter to the attention of the Minister of Agriculture, but nothing whatever has happened.

Mr. Short

I sympathise with the hon. Gentleman. As I have pointed out on many occasions in the past few weeks, most of the time for general debates is now in the hands of the Opposition. For next week they have selected the plight of voluntary organisations, arms sales, post-graduate education, and so on. It is up to the Opposition to select a date for this debate.

Mr. George Cunningham

Has my right hon. Friend had reported to him the question raised yesterday about the photographing machines in the basement of the House? Can he give us any clear idea of the purpose of those machines?

Mr. Short

Yes, Sir. I regret that I was not in the House when this matter was raised yesterday. Perhaps I can explain. The equipment to which reference was made yesterday has been installed to augment the copying facilities in the House to meet the requirement for various documents. The pressure of parliamentary business has been growing rapidly in recent years.

Perhaps I might quote the example of one day last week, 30th June, when the Votes and Proceedings ran to 388 pages, of which 277 pages were amendments. As hon. Members will be only too well aware, there has been increasing difficulty of late in meeting the demands of the House for papers, especially given the [column 1682]long and frequent sittings of Standing Committees. It became clear to me—and I gave a pledge to the House on this—that additional facilities were necessary within the House during such periods of intense parliamentary activity both on the Floor of the House and in Committee so as to ensure that business can proceed if normal supplies cannot be made available in the time.

I discussed the matter with you, Mr. Speaker, and through the usual channels. I discussed it in the Services Committee. After all these consultations, I gave authority to the staff of the House, as Leader of the House, for the equipment to be installed. It will be operated by staff acting under the authority of the House.

I accept that the equipment will restrict accommodation to some extent on the interview floor, but the essence of these facilities is the speedy supply of temporary documents. They are all temporary and they will have to be printed afterwards. As quickness of supply is the essential feature, it has been necessary to site the equipment within the precincts of the House so as to ensure that the needs of the House are met. I emphasise that only temporary documents are involved and that every document must be printed later.

Mr. Maurice Macmillan

As the dangers that confront this country come from abroad as well as from home, will the right hon. Gentleman undertake that we can have an opportunity to debate the European Security Conference before the summit takes place?

Mr. Short

I shall certainly bear in mind what the right hon. Gentleman has said, but I am afraid I do not see much prospect at the moment.

Mrs. Hayman

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the growing concern amongst workers in the aircraft industry as to the fate of the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill? Will my hon. Friend arrange for a statement to be made next week like the statement that was promised for this week?

Mr. Short

A statement was made on Tuesday, in fact, to say that the Bill will have top priority in the next Session. It is now too late to proceed with the Bill in this Parliament.

[column 1683]

Mr. John Davies

The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that I have pressed him on numerous occasions for a debate on the findings of the Procedure Committee. He will be aware that meanwhile the backlog of undebated items recommended by the Secondary Legislation Committee grows and grows, and that items of first-rate importance are now being delayed. I refer, for example, to a matter that has come up very keenly during Questions to the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food relating to the common agricultural policy and stocktaking documents. Will the right hon. Gentleman please further his undertaking and that given, moreover, by his right hon. Friend to bring forward this debate? This is becoming essential.

Mr. Short

I agree with the right hon. Gentleman. I have discussed this matter with him. I pay tribute to the work that is done by the Procedure Committee. However, there are many younger Members in the House who have children, and I am anxious that we should not go too far into August before we begin the Summer Recess. [Hon. Members: “1st August.” ] Therefore, I cannot really promise that there will be a debate before the recess. However, there will be a debate on the Procedure Committee in this Session.

Mr. Rooker

Will my right hon. Friend tell us why we are not proceeding with the proposed guillotine motion on the Employment Protection Bill? May I offer my right hon. Friend some advice? If the mess-up which has occurred in the past 24 hours is not resolved my right hon. Friend will have to look for a second eleven for Standing Committee F.

Mr. Short

I do not know who has proposed a guillotine motion on the Employment Protection Bill but I certainly have not.

Mr. Cormack

Once again, I return to the subject of the Finer Report. It is now over a year since the report was published. Does the right hon. Gentleman remember that he promised to try to find time immediately after Christmas? We have still not had a debate on Finer. Yesterday some 5,000 people came to the House to demonstrate their concern. It is totally absurd that the Government should be clogging up the parliamentary [column 1684]timetable with unnecessary legislation when matters such as this are not debated.

Mr. Short

I have agreed with the hon. Gentleman week after week that this is a most important matter to debate. In fact, one of the Private Member's motions is concerned with one-parent families. However, I do not think that that discharges the promise I gave to the House that there should be a debate. I shall ensure that there is a debate in this Session.

Mr. Hal Miller

Will the right hon. Gentleman afford time for a debate—or, if not a debate, at least a statement to the House from his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry—on the situation at Norton Villiers Triumph? We understand that the firm is being threatened by the Government's insistence on maintaining a three-factory solution to the motor cycle industry. What steps will the Government take to ensure the viability of Norton Villiers Triumph?

Mr. Short

I realise that there are problems. I shall convey what the hon. Gentleman has said to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry and see whether he can make a statement on the matter before the recess.

Mr. Greville Janner

In view of the grave unemployment situation, will my right hon. Friend find time for a debate on unemployment before the recess? When considering the matter, will he bear in mind especially the anxieties that are felt in areas such as Leicester, where the unemployment level has been very low but where there are now the most grave anxieties because the level has increased so very much during the past few months?

Mr. Short

This is a subject which would be very relevant to the extended debate on economic affairs which I have promised before the recess.

Mr. Amery

Further to the question raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Farnham (Mr. Macmillan), does the right hon. Gentleman realise that it would be unacceptable that the Prime Minister should go to the summit meeting to conclude the European Security Conference without having first heard the opinion of the House? If the right hon. Gentleman cannot find time for that, will he at least assure us that there will be a [column 1685]statement and a full opportunity to discuss the statement before the right hon. Gentleman ventures on any such journey?

Mr. Short

I shall bear in mind what the right hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friend have said. However, I recollect that when the right hon. Gentleman was a Minister there were occasions when what he has raised took place. However, I shall bear in mind what he has said.

Dr. John A. Cunningham

Has my right hon. Friend seen Early-Day Motion No. 560 concerning the incidence of pneumoconiosis in industries other than the coal mining industry?

[That this House congratulates the National Coal Board, the National Union of Mineworkers, and the Government on the introduction of the pneumoconiosis scheme, but, noting the incidence of this disease following employment in other industries (e.g., iron ore mining, quarrying, foundry working, the pottery industry) calls upon the Government to initiate talks between employers and unions in the appropriate industries, with the intention of establishing a parallel fund, with Government support, to ensure that all sufferers from pneumoconiosis are accorded similar treatment.]

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the widespread support for this proposal? Will he consider providing time for this grave issue to be debated? It is a matter of social justice and equity and it should be debated in the House.

Mr. Short

I know of my hon. Friend's concern, and I know that pneumoconiosis affects a great many people in the area which he represents and where I live. Certainly I shall convey to my right hon. Friend my hon. Friend's concern and the concern that is felt by many Members on both sides of the House as regards this problem.

Mr. Body

In view of the answer that the right hon. Gentleman gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop), does he mean that the Government now think so little of their White Paper, and regard it as so undeserving of parliamentary attention, that they will not find any time for it to be debated before the recess? Does the right hon. Gentleman mean, in view of his answer to my hon. Friend, that the [column 1686]Opposition have now to give up their own time and to give it, as it were, to the Government so that the Government's policy on this issue can be debated?

Mr. Short

I think that the White Paper is a very good and very important document. It has been generally welcomed throughout the country, and especially in agricultural circles. Almost all the time for general debate is now in the hands of the Opposition. That has been the situation for some weeks past. We look to the Opposition to provide time for a debate on agriculture, but so far they have not done so.

I very much regret that I can find no time before the recess, but if hon. Members are willing to sit well into August—[Hon. Members: “We are” .]—We could debate it. We shall note what Conservative Members have said. We shall have to sit some time into August, but I am anxious that we should not sit too far into August. However, there will be some weeks left in the autumn of this year.

Mr. David Steel

Has the right hon. Gentleman had time to consider the debate which took place on the composition of our delegation to the European Parliament? In the light of that, will he consider setting up a Select Committee to consider what method we should use for the selection of the delegation in future?

Mr. Short

I shall consider what the hon. Gentleman has said. I understand that the other place is discussing this matter this afternoon. We had better await the outcome of that discussion. I shall bear in mind what the hon. Gentleman says. I realise that there is a problem.

Mr. Raphael Tuck

In view of recent reports that the number of accidents to drivers of three-wheeled vehicles increases year by year, will the right hon. Gentleman arrange for his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services to come to the House in the near future to tell hon. Members what the Government intend to do about the situation?

Mr. Short

I shall convey my hon. Friend's remarks to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services. I know that my hon. Friend is concerned [column 1687]about this topic and he has expressed his anxieties on a number of occasions.

Mr. Percival

Is the right hon. Friend aware that the fact that the House has not yet debated, let alone decided, the situation in regard to the right hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Stonehouse) is giving rise to wide concern and severe criticism in the country? Is he aware that this concern is shared by many right hon. and hon. Members? When will time be allotted to discuss the position of the right hon. Member for Walsall, North?

Mr. Short

I cannot give any undertaking in that regard. This is a particularly difficult problem—one which becomes more difficult all the time since the situation changes from day to day. If there is any change in the situation, I shall inform the House. I appreciate the concern on this matter in all parts of the country, a concern which I share. There are especially difficult problems involved in the case.

Mr. Swain

Will my right hon. Friend have discussions with the Secretary of State for the Environment and will he ask him to make a statement next week denying the rumours in the national Press that the Secretary of State for the Environment is prepared to accept some of the amendments carried in the House of Lords at the initiation of the only man in both Houses who lives up to his name, Quintin Hogg?

Mr. Short

The Bill to which my hon. Friend refers is to be received from another place today. My right hon. Friend will consider the amendments made in another place and in due course will announce his view on them.

Mr. Peyton

I am sorry that the Leader of the House did not take the opportunity to refute the remarks of the hon. Member for Derbyshire, North-East (Mr. Swain). They amounted to a monstrous attack on my noble Friend, Lord Hailsham.

May I raise two points with the Leader of the House? Will he first give the assurance, which has been requested by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition that the debate on the White Paper promised for next week will precede any legislation which will arise out of the White Paper? [column 1688]

Secondly, I invite the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the subject of statements made in the House. Earlier this week the Chancellor of the Exchequer made a very important statement without prior announcement to the House, in breach of our well-known practice. Today, the Prime Minister, in answer to a supplementary question, gave a lot of information which would have been very much better contained in a statement.

Thirdly, the right hon. Gentleman said that the information about printing equipment had nothing to do with the business for next week. That matter would have been better contained in a separate statement. I wish to confirm that the Leader of the House consulted the Opposition and that we fully support him in any efforts he makes to further the practicability of parliamentary government.

Mr. Short

On the question of attacks, if we were to refute all the attacks made on us we should have no time to do anything else. [An Hon. Member: “What about the other place?” ] There is nothing special about the other place. In regard to a debate on the White Paper, I apologise to the right hon. Lady the Leader of the Opposition for not answering that question in terms. I cannot say when a debate will take place, but we can discuss the question through the usual channels. We can see how the debate should be arranged for the convenience of both sides of the House.

I shall bear in mind what the right hon. Gentleman said about statements to the House. I was present just before 12 o'clock on Tuesday morning when the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave instructions to contact the House to ask for a notice to be put on the annunciator. I think that there was some fault in the communications system, although I do not know that as a fact. Perhaps we can look into the situation to examine why there was no announcement in the normal way.

In regard to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, that was a proper reply to a proper Question tabled by my right hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey (Mr. Hughes). There is nothing for which to apologise.

I have already dealt with the question of printing and I have set out the situation to the best of my ability.

[column 1689]

Mr. Canavan

Has my right hon. Friend seen Early-Day Motion 569?

[That this House, in view of the appalling hardships faced by immigrant workers and their families, calls on the Government to strengthen the Race Relations Act and to expedite the repeal of the 1971 Immigration Act and its replacement by legislation which is not based on any racial or ethnic discrimination, so that people living in the United Kingdom shall enjoy full civil rights, including freedom from deportation.]

When can we expect legislation to strengthen the Race Relations Act and to replace the 1971 Immigration Act with legislation which is not based on any racial discrimination?

Mr. Short

Without committing the Government in detail in regard to the last part of my hon. Friend's question, I wish to tell the House that we hope to be able to take some action in the next Session of Parliament.

Mr. Edward Gardner

Will the right hon. Gentleman find time to debate the Philimore Report on contempt of court? Does he realise that this is one of seven reports from distinguished committees, including the report of the Younger Committee on privacy, still awaiting decision by the Government? Is he aware that Lord Gardiner, as Chairman of Justice, has recently criticised the delays and said that he is disturbed at the number of reports on which the Government have yet to make up their mind? Have the Government lost interest in the sound reform of the law?

Mr. Short

No, Sir. The last Labour Government had an excellent record of law reform. The reports mentioned by the hon. and learned Gentleman are among a number of first-rate reports which should be debated in the House. There will be a rather extended spillover in the autumn and I hope that there will be time for debates of this nature.

Several Hon. Members

rose——

Mr. Speaker

I am sorry, but the House will realise that the guillotine on amendments to the Industry Bill falls at 7.30 p.m. We must proceed.