HC Deb 15 July 1965 vol 716 cc775-81
Sir Alec Douglas-Home

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will state the business of the House for next week?

The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert Bowden)

Yes, Sir, the business for next week will be as follows:

MONDAY, 19TH JULY and TUESDAY, 20TH JULY—Debate on Foreign Affairs, for which the Government will be making available a day and the Opposition a Supply day.

At the end on Monday, the Second Reading of the Public Works Loans Bill.

And, on Tuesday, the remaining stages of the Gas (Borrowing Powers) Bill, and consideration of Lords Amendments to the Gas Bill.

WEDNESDAY, 21ST JULY—Private Members' Motions until seven o'clock.

Afterwards, the remaining stages of the Redundancy Payments Bill.

THURSDAY, 22ND JULY—Supply [23rd Allotted Day]: Committee. Debate on the Deterioration in London's Commuter Transport Services, until seven o'clock, and afterwards on the State of the Post Office Services.

Remaining stages of the Judges Remuneration Bill, and Lords Amendments to the Firearms Bill and to the Statutory Orders (Special Procedure) Bill.

FRIDAY, 23RD JULY—Second Reading of the International Monetary Fund Bill and of the Patents (Employees' Inventions) Bill [Lords].

MONDAY, 26TH JULY—The proposed business will be: Supply [24th Allotted Day]: Committee.

Debate on Industry and Employment in Scotland.

Sir Alec Douglas-Home

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the statement, once again, shows a weekly programme which is appallingly congested? Is it not very wrong that the House should have to take after normal sitting hours, for instance, the Public Works Loans Bill, which concerns a matter on which there is usually a considerable debate, and, for instance, the Redundancy Payments Bill, which is a very important matter? Cannot the Leader of the House reconsider this programme?

Mr. Bowden

I accept at once that there is every year at this stage of the year a rather heavy overloading of the Order Paper and of the business of the House. The House has to make up its mind. My endeavour, as Leader of the House, is to get the House up at the end of the first week in August. It is for the House to decide. If the House—both sides—wishes to take things more leisurely, we can go into the second week. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] If that is the House's wish, we can discuss it through the usual channels.

On the question of the overloading, I ask the Leader of the Opposition to look at the 1960–61 Session. We have not yet reached that high number of hours worked after 10.30. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will be good enough to look at that.

Mr. Grimond

Will the Leader of the House ensure through his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations that a statement on the negotiations on Rhodesia is made before we rise? Is he aware that no one wants to sit into August but that it would cause profound disquiet if any decisions contrary to those already outlined about Rhodesia were taken after the House rose?

Mr. Bowden

I will certainly consult my right hon. Friend on the question of a statement on Rhodesia. I should not like the House to be misled: we are already sitting into August. I was referring to the second week in August.

Mr. Richard

May I convey to the Leader of the House the fact that there are a large number of Members on this side of the House, at any rate, who are quite prepared to sit into the second week of August and who would be only too delighted to appear in the House on the 12th?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Will not the right hon. Gentleman reconsider the programme for the Public Works Loans Bill? It raises major questions of local government finance which are of great interest to hon. Members on both sides of the House. Will he recall the protests which his hon. Friends made when, some years ago, discussion of a Bill authorising about half this amount of money was allowed to begin an hour earlier?

Mr. Bowden

I am prepared to consider this through the usual channels. The right hon. Gentleman's remarks will be taken into consideration. I remind the House again, however, that we have to take a considerable amount of business after ten o'clock if hon. Members want to adjourn during the first week of August.

Mr. William Hamilton

First, can my right hon. Friend say when the Report of the Committee of Privileges will be available and whether time will be provided for a debate on it? Secondly, would he consider again as an alternative to sitting either in the second week in August or having a congested programme, as the Leader of the Opposition suggested, having some more morning sittings to debate these matters? There is a large volume of opinion among Members on this side of the House wholly in favour of that course being taken.

Mr. Bowden

On the first point, the Report of the Committee of Privileges was available at eleven o'clock this morning.

If it is the view of the House that we should have morning sittings to complete this part of the Session rather than sit into the second week in August, I am prepared to consider it. I would remind the House, however, that that would need a decision of the House, which itself would take a day's debate.

Mr. Gower

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Bill promised about the setting up of a Lands Commission, the Bill promised to deal with leasehold reform and the Bill promised to deal with the provision of rather cheaper mortgages, will all be deferred to a future Session?

Mr. Bowden

No, Sir, I cannot confirm that at this stage. What I can say is that they will not be taken before the Summer Recess.

Mr. Shinwell

Would my right hon. Friend have consultations through the usual channels about the desirability and practicability of having some morning sittings rather than have hon. Members sitting through the night? We are not suggesting that we should have morning sittings regularly, but surely to have some would be preferable to sitting through the night and meeting in the second week in August. Would my right hon. Friend discuss the matter through the usual channels?

Mr. Bowden

Yes. This seems to be a reasonable arrangement. Perhaps we could discuss it through the usual channels. If we could reach an agreement and not waste a day debating it, we should save some time.

Mr. Godber

May I remind the right hon. Gentleman that last night I and some of my hon. Friends wished to debate Prayers which could not be taken because of Government business, which went on until a late hour? May I also remind him of the need to take these Prayers, particularly in view of the fact that in the winding-up speech in the debate on technology last night the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour made remarks about those Prayers which were wholly misleading and which he knew to be misleading?

Mr. Bowden

I will have to see how many days are left for the Prayers. There are usually 40 praying days. I would have hoped that they would be put down early enough to have been taken sooner.

Mr. Zilliacus

In view of the number of times that the Government have, quite rightly, suspended the ten o'clock rule to provide the necessary time for getting through Bills, will my right hon. Friend apply the same principle to the two-day foreign affairs debate and extend the debate on each of these days to, say, midnight, since we have not had a foreign affairs debate for a very long time, and a tremendous number of issues have arisen on which a great many hon. Members would like to say a few words?

Mr. Bowden

I will do what the House wishes in this matter, but I would not do it lightly. My views from experience is that two days on a foreign affairs debate is enough. I should have thought that if speeches were, perhaps, curtailed to 15 or 20 minutes, we might overcome the difficulty.

Mr. Soames

Will the right hon. Gentleman kindly represent to his right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence, because when I put it to the Prime Minister at Question Time I think that he must have misheard me, that if he is making a statement on the future of the Territorial Army before the Recess we would like him to do so in time so that, if necessary, there may be a debate upon it?

Mr. Bowden

I think that the right hon. Gentleman misheard my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. I was sitting next to him and I heard this. It is, I think, clear that if a statement is to be made, it will be made in the House.

Mr. Woodburn

Further to the question by my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), when the discussions take place through the usual channel, will my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House consider, in connection with the long hours, the strain on the staff, including those who have to make travel arrangements for Members of Parliament? It is impossible at this time of the year, when there is holiday traffic, for them to change trains and aircraft bookings at the whim of the different sides of the House. The usual channels should come to a sensible agreement that makes it possible for people to book trains and aircraft in a businesslike fashion.

Mr. Bowden

Yes, Sir, I am very well aware of the inconvenience to the staff of the House in sitting into the first week of August, and I have been trying to obviate sitting into the second week. I should have thought that despite the cheers which I got from both sides of the House a few moments ago, it would be the general wish of the House to get up at the end of the first week of August if possible.

Mr. Gibson-Watt

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the request that I made to him a week ago that we should have a day for Welsh affairs on the Floor of the House? Will time for this be found before we rise for the Recess? If not, can it be explained why the Prime Minister said that there would be more time for the discussion of Welsh affairs on the Floor of the House during this Session?

Mr. Bowden

There is normally a day's debate on the Floor of the House on Welsh affairs in addition to the days upstairs in the Welsh Grand Committee. We shall have that day in the present Session of Parliament—I hope, although I cannot promise it firmly, before the House rises before the Recess.

Mr. Snow

Following my right hon. Friend's suggestion that there might be conversations through the usual channels about morning sittings, may I ask that if such conservations take place consideration will be given to the further proceedings on the Judges' Remuneration Bill, about which some hon. Members have misgivings?

Mr. Bowden

This is all part of the remaining stages of the Bills which we hope to get through before the House rises.

Mr. A. Royle

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen Motion No. 316 on the Order Paper, tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Brentford and Chiswick (Mr. Dudley Smith) and myself and a number of others of my hon. Friends, about the state of the London bus services and the deterioration of the service over the past few weeks?

Will there be any possibility of debating this Motion during the coming week?

[That this House views with concern the inconvenience caused to the public of the Greater London area through the continued deterioration of London Transport bus services and urges the Minister of Transport, in view of past promises for more efficient working made by management and staff, which have not been fulfilled, to examine the planning and administration of such services as part of his announced inquiry into London Transport's financial structure.]

Mr. Bowden

I do not expect any opportunity of debating the Motion unless it is done on a private Member's or Adjournment debate, or is picked up by the official Opposition. The question of the deterioration of London bus services is not a matter of the last few weeks. It has probably been going on for a considerable time. The Government are, however, looking at the position and are doing what is possible to help.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

We must pass on now. The Prime Minister.