Business of the House
Will Edward Shortthe Leader of the House be good enough 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: [column 748]
Monday 14th July—Supply [27th Allotted Day]: There will be a debate on the Problems of the Agriculture Industry, on a motion for the Adjournment of the House.
Remaining stages of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) (Amendment) Bill.
Motion on the Appropriation (No. 2) (Northern Ireland) Order.
Tuesday 15th July—Supply [28th Allotted Day]: Until about seven o'clock, there will be a debate on the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, on a motion for the Adjournment of the House, and afterwards a debate on an Opposition motion on the Post Office.
Consideration of Lords Amendments to the Coal Industry Bill.
Remaining stages of the Safety of Sports Grounds Bill [Lords].
Wednesday 16th July and Thursday 17th July—Remaining stages of the Finance (No. 2) Bill.
Friday 18th July—Second Reading of the Policyholders Protection Bill [Lords].
Proceedings on the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Bill [Lords], which is a consolidation measure.
Motion on the Civil Aviation (Air Travel Organisers' Licensing) (Reserve Fund) Regulations.
Monday 21st July—Opening of the debate on anti-inflation measures.
As, judging by the statement by Denis Healeythe Chancellor of the Exchequer last Tuesday, it looks as though the economic measures will be implemented either by orders or by legislation—or both—can the right hon. Gentleman say when these will be published?
Secondly, it looks as though we shall be rather busy in the remaining part of the Session. In view of that, is there likely to be time for debates on such matters as the Bullock Report the Finer Report, the broadcasting of our proceedings and various other subjects which normally would have arisen?
As for the economic measures, I confirm that there will be a Bill. I am not sure when it will be [column 749]published. Certainly it will be at the earliest possible moment.
I am afraid that it will not be possible to debate the Bullock and Finer Reports before the Summer Recess——
As for the right hon. Lady's question about the broadcasting of our proceedings, I remind her that the House agreed that, after the experiment, the Services Committee should submit a report to the House. The Services Committee will prepare that report and submit it, but I am afraid that it will not be ready before the Summer Recess. I hope, however, that it will be possible to debate it during the spill-over period in the autumn.
Can my right hon. Friend comment on Press reports today that Government sources have asked the broadcasters to return tomorrow? Is that because of the exciting nature of our proceedings next week, and was any reference made to the Services Committee?
No, Sir. We did not ask them to return. We inquired about the present state of play of their apparatus, but I understand that they have removed the wires, so that it will not be possible to continue the experiment.
Mr. Geoffrey Finsberg
May I remind the right hon. Gentleman that he has on more than three occasions said that he would tell the Home Secretary that the House would like a statement on the Maxwell Stamp Report? Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether that is likely to come next week, or can he put pressure on his right hon. Friend?
I am afraid that it will not be next week. But I shall make further inquiries and write to the hon. Gentleman about it.
Has my right hon. Friend noticed that, in the debate last Friday on EEC secondary legislation, the House was again prevented from reaching a decision? As this makes nonsense of undertakings that we have been given about parliamentary control of this legislation, may we be assured that in future the [column 750]House will be able to reach decisions one way or the other?
Certainly we hope very shortly to be able to find time to debate the report of the Select Committee on Procedure on this matter.
Mr. Cyril Smith
Will the right hon. Gentleman say how long it would take to get the wires back again? Is it possible for the Government to arrange for the economic debates that are promised a week on Monday to be broadcast? Further, when are we to have a statement on textiles? Many of us are waiting for such a statement.
Taking the hon. Gentleman's last point first, I said last week that a statement would be made in the near future, and that will take place. The statement will contain a package of measures to help the clothing, textile and footwear industries. On the hon. Gentleman's first point, I understand that it will take two weeks to reinstate the installation.
Did I hear my right hon. Friend aright? Did he refer to a Bill in relation to the anti-inflation package? Are we to go through the experience that we had in 1967 and 1970? Will he bear in mind that for some of us this is not where we came in but where we began to go out?
First, my hon. Friend heard me aright. On his second point, I repeat what I said on Tuesday—namely, the Government are hopeful that we shall be able to reach agreement on a voluntary incomes policy.
Why a Bill?
Is it not wasting our time next week to spend two days debating the Finance Bill in view of the fact that legislation that may well overturn it will be introduced the following week?
The hon. Gentleman had better wait to see what it is.
Mr. James Johnson
Last week we had an excellent debate on the state of the fishing industry, and there was no dissension on the need to make a statement at the earliest moment on financial aid. Bearing in mind that the industry is waiting for a statement, when is a statement to be made?[column 751]
I shall pass on my hon. Friend's request to my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food.
Does the Leader of the House appreciate that the legislation on divorce in Scotland has now completed its stages in another place and that it will shortly come before this House? Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that this urgent reform will be given time in the House this Session or, at the very least, that time will be provided very early after the Summer Recess so that full consideration can be given to this measure?
There is only one more day for Private Members' Bills—namely, on Friday of this week. I agree that this is very important and necessary legislation, but I am afraid that it has little chance of reaching the statute book in the present Session.
Further to the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan), will my right hon. Friend indicate to the House why, if there is hope of getting a voluntary agreement with the TUC, it is necessary to bring in a Bill? This is surely totally unnecessary. I cannot understand why the Government are saying in advance that there will be a Bill when we are trying to negotiate a voluntary agreement with the TUC.
If my hon. Friend is in his place tomorrow morning, as I am sure he will be——
Yes, I will be.
—he will understand exactly why this is being done. He will see that there is no conflict whatever between the two things that I have said.
May I once again revert to the Finer Report. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that it is totally shameful that this report is not to be debated before the recess in view of the assurances that the right hon. Gentleman has given in previous weeks. Will the right hon. Gentleman think again about this matter? Whilst he is thinking about it, will be tell us when the Summer Recess is to fall? Further, will he promise us a statement on the abandon[column 752]ment of the ludicrously expensive new parliamentary building project before that date?
Working backwards, I hope that it will be possible to make a statement on the new parliamentary building perhaps next week or in the near future. As regards the Summer Recess, it will be some time in the summer but I cannot give a precise date. On the hon. Gentleman's first point, the only assurance I have ever given him is that I shall try to arrange a debate in the present Session, and I shall honour that promise.
In view of the crisis in the textile industry and the uncertainty about jobs in all sections of that industry, I press my right hon. Friend to say when this further important statement is to be made. Is if possible for the statement to be made next week?
I hope that it will be possible to make the statement next week. I shall try to ensure that it is made next week. In addition to what will be in the statement, the EEC has now reached agreement under the multi-fibre arrangement with India and Pakistan, and restraint on Taiwan will be applied very soon. We are pressing on vigorously with the other outstanding negotiations. We have also given consideration to further requests from the industry to invoke Article 3 of the MFA, as have other member States. I hope that the full statement will be made next week.
I revert to the point raised by the hon. Members for Renfrewshire, West (Mr. Buchan) and Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer). Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that as a result of tomorow's statement we shall be receiving in due course not only a new price code, to provide the statutory back-up to control employers, but also a Bill to deal with the separate statutory considerations in the package?
I cannot anticipate what will be in the statement tomorrow. If the hon. Gentleman is here he will hear what is in the statement.
If my right hon. Friend cannot state what is to be in the statement tomorrow, will he say how much time will be provided for the anti-inflation debate? I believe that my right hon. Friend referred to the first day on next Monday [column 753]week, but how many more days will there be after that?
I promised an extended debate and there will certainly be a second day.
In view of the uncertainty that now exists over the Channel Tunnel workings, will the Leader of the House undertake to ensure that the Cairncross Report will be presented to the House and that we shall have a statement from the Secretary of State for the Environment to clear up the uncertainty?
I cannot promise that the report will be debated but I shall direct the attention of my right hon. Friend to what the hon. Gentleman has said.
Does my right hon. Friend not agree that there are many Bills before the House and many other Bills that should be before us, although not necessarily the one to which he has just referred, that are crucial to the nation's future? Will my right hon. Friend seriously consider, in view of the many complaints we hear from the Opposition about the lack of time to debate important subjects, extending the Session through August into September in the knowledge that his hon. Friends are prepared to stay to see the Bills on the statute book?
That suggestion might commend itself to the hon. Gentleman with his fifteen-year programme, but I doubt whether it would commend itself to all hon. Members.
I welcome the fact that the House is to debate the European Security Conference, but that is only one aspect of foreign affairs. Will the right hon. Gentleman give us an assurance that the House will have the usual full day on foreign affairs before we rise for the Summer Recess?
I shall bear that in mind, but I cannot give any undertaking at the moment.
Mr. Greville Janner
Is my right hon. Friend aware of the great relief that will be felt in the Midlands and in other areas which depend on the hosiery and footwear industries, areas which are suffering grave unemployment, given the prospect [column 754]of a full statement? That also applies to to the textile industry, of course. Is my right hon. Friend also aware that a statement will not take the place of a debate as we are inevitably restricted to fairly short questions and to a limited number of questions? Will my right hon. Friend assure the House that there will be a debate on these vital industries before the House rises for the Summer Recess?
I regret that I cannot promise a debate, but I shall bear in mind what my hon. and learned Friend says. I am sure that my hon. and learned Friend, and the textile industry generally, will be gratified by the package of measures to be announced shortly.
May I draw my right hon. Friend's attention to Early Day Motion No. 487 relating to the discrimination that is shown against school nurses?
[That this House draws attention to the inequitable and anomalous situation whereby school health service nurses without the one-year Health Visitor's Certificate have been downgraded in status in comparison with those who possess such a certificate and receive up to £1,098 per annum less in salary than the latter, in spite of the fact that there is no difference in their duties and responsibilities and even though they may have other qualifications such as SRN, RFN, CNB and SCN as well as possessing invaluable experience for periods of up to 30 years in the National Health Service; and calls upon the Secretary of State for Social Services to take urgent steps to ensure that all those school health service nurses who perform the same tasks are paid the same rate for the job.]
Further, may I draw my right hon. Friend's attention to Early Day Motion No. 550 relating to discrimination against nurses in chest clinics?
[That this House draws attention to the serious situation whereby tuberculosis nurses in chest clinics without the one-year Health Visitor's Certificate have been downgraded in status in comparison with those who possess such a certificate and receive up to £1,098 per annum less in salary than the latter, in spite of the fact that there is no difference in their duties and responsibilities and even though they may have other qualifications such as SRN, RFN, CNB and SCN [column 755]as well as possessing invaluable experience for periods of up to 30 years in the National Health Service; and calls upon the Secretary of State for Social Services to take urgent steps to ensure that all those tuberculosis nurses who perform the same tasks are paid the same rate for the job, particularly having regard to the dangers of contracting tuberculosis inherent in their work.]
Discrimination is shown against nurses who do not have the health visitor's certificate. Is my right hon. Friend aware that in view of the Minister's response last Tuesday, it seems that help is needed by him to energise the Government into some positive action? Will he promise the House a day's debate on this important issue before we rise for the Summer Recess?
I agree that this is a very important subject. I do not know whether I can energise my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services, but I shall have a go.
Mr. Leslie Huckfield
I appreciate the difficulties of my right hon. Friend, but does he understand that many of us would like to debate the Government's anti-inflation proposals as soon as possible? Why cannot we have a debate on the White Paper next week?
I think that the House and the country will want time to study the proposals in the White Paper. It is a fairly long document and it contains a good deal of detail. I think that everyone will want some time to think over the details.
I acknowledge the forthcoming attitude of the right hon. Gentleman in offering a second day for the economic debate. That is very much appreciated. Of course, it is Government time.
Secondly, may I put to him that some of the remarks that he made about there being no conflict between the need for a Bill and a voluntary policy would at least appear to indicate that the Government's decisions have already been made? [Hon. Members: “Does it matter?” ] Yes. It does matter. It is quite intolerable that the announcement of decisions should be put off until tomorrow instead of being made today.[column 756]
I am sure that the House will want a White Paper when the statement is made, and that will be available tomorrow. This is perfectly reasonable and fair.
Mr. Nicholas Winterton
Has the Lord President yet received a report on the first debate upstairs in the Standing Committee on Regional Affairs? If he has, I am sure he will be interested to know that I, for one, feel that it was a thoroughly unsatisfactory experiment. Will the right hon. Gentleman assure us that time will be found for a debate on regional affairs on the Floor of the House? Will he also accept from me, as a family man, that the remarks of his hon. Friend the Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Kilroy-Silk) about extending the Session through August into September were thoroughly unsatisfactory and that perhaps the right hon. Gentleman should consider resuming the Session much later in October or November, to allow us to get to know our children again?
Certainly I have a great deal of sympathy with the hon. Gentleman on the last few words of his supplementary. On his point about the Committee on Regional Affairs, as I have said throughout, it is an experiment. I understand that the Committee on the North West was not all that successful in the view of some hon. Members. We shall see how the next one goes. It is too early yet to evaluate this experiment.
Is the Lord President aware that, thanks largely to the Government's hopelessly congested programme, the Select Committee on Expenditure was called to meet this afternoon at 2.30 to deal with important and controversial amendments at a time when Questions to the Chancellor of the Exchequer were followed by Prime Minister's Questions? Will the Lord President take note of what he and his Government are doing to this House and this country? Does he not agree that the Government are creating legislative diarrhoea but that the House of Commons is getting constipation as a result?
There are a great many Members on Committees and a great number of Committees, but I have done research into this and I am sure the hon. Gentleman will be interested to hear [column 757]that they are fewer than they were at one point during the period of the last Government.
Is the right hon. Gentleman referring to Committees or hon. Members on Committees?
The total number of Committees is today fewer than it was at one point during the hon. Gentleman's own Government.
Mr. Michael Latham
If the Lord President cannot find time for us to debate on the Floor of the House the problems of the East Midlands, particularly affecting footwear and textiles, as he said in answer to his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner), would he consider referring that subject to the Committee on Regional Affairs?
That is a very useful suggestion. I will look into it.