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Commons Chamber

Volume 640: debated on Monday 15 May 1961

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House Of Commons

Monday, 15th May, 1961

The House met at half-past Two o'clock

Prayers

[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]

Private Business

Great Ouse Water Bill

As amended, to be considered upon Tuesday, 30th May at Seven o'clock.

Berkshire And Buckinghamshire County Councils (Windsor-Eton Bridge &C) Bill Lords

Manchester Corporation Bill

Middlesex County Council Bill

As amended considered; to be read the Third time.

Sutton Coldfield Corporation Bill Lords

Read a Second time and committed.

Oral Answers To Questions

Ministry Of Power

Fuel And Power Industries (Output Targets)

2.

asked the Minister of Power what general directions he has given to the fuel and power industries relating to output targets for the current year.

How does the Minister expect these industries to plan ahead without having a fixed target underwritten by his Ministry? Has he observed that the Chairman of the National Coal Board is planning a target of around 200 million tons, and that the Conservative Political Centre is advocating a target of 120 million tons?

I think that the hon. Gentleman, if he has paid attention, as I know he has, to the recent debates in the House, will be quite well aware of the objections to fixing targets, and will also be aware that in the last debate I gave my view that the Chairman of the National Coal Board was right in planing for a capacity of about 200 million tons a year.

Liquid Methane

3.

asked the Minister of Power what proposals he has received from the Gas Council regarding the importation of liquid methane.

I am surprised to hear that Answer. Will the Minister guarantee, in view of the heavy blow that these proposals are likely to inflict on the coal industry, that before any irrevocable step is taken we shall have the opportunity of debating the proposals in this House?

No, Sir. I should like to make the position quite clear. I have said before that the position of the coal industry would obviously be one of the most important factors that I would take into consideration. I intend, when I receive the proposals, which I have not yet done, to consider them and to reach a decision, and, in view of the interest which the House has taken in this matter, I have given an undertaking that I will make a statement in order to acquaint the House before the decision is actually announced. It is my decision; I must reach it myself.

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the paramount importance to British industry of having the cheapest possible supply of power which is available?

In view of the fact that the Minister told us on Monday last that it would be only a few days before he had the report of the Gas Council, how much longer does he think he will have to wait?

Steel Industry (Prices)

5.

asked the Minister of Power, having regard to the increase in fuel oil duty proposed in Clause 2 of the Finance Bill, and the increased annual costs of steel making of approximately £5 million and of approximately £10 million for electricity generation, what general directions he will give to the Central Electricity Generating Board, and what steps he is taking to initiate conversations with the British Iron and Steel Federation, with a view to circumventing increases in prices, respectively, for electricity supplies and steel and negativing any possible inflation of power and steel prices; and whether he will make a statement.

None, Sir. Under the relevant Statutes, any variation of the electricity bulk supply tariff and of the maximum prices of iron and steel products to take account of any increase in fuel oil costs resulting from the imposition of the duty are matters for the Central Electricity Generating Board and the Iron and Steel Board, respectively.

Has not my right hon. Friend perceived the ominous signs in the last few days arising from the imposition of the fuel oil duty; namely, an increase in electricity prices of up to 20 per cent.—as manifested by the Eastern Electricity Board's announcement last week—and the possibility of increases in the price of steel of up to 30s. a ton? How could these price increases be consonant with the policy of Her Majesty's Government which so far has been to increase the competitiveness of British industry in the interest of national exports, not to reduce it?

I think that a great many of my hon. Friend's prognostications depend on the price at which oil is available to those two large consumers. I have not been able, in fact, to make any estimate of the effect of the oil tax on the cost of electricity generation because I do not know how much oil will be used with the changed cost which, in turn, will depend on the price at which oil is available. I therefore think that it is impossible to be dogmatic about it until we know the cost to the consumers of the tax on oil.

In considering steel prices, will the Minister look at the price-fixing arrangements in this section of industry and inquire why there are fixed prices for delivery in any part of the country no matter what cost may be in- volved? Will he also look at the prospects of reducing steel prices? I know that they are still lower than those of a great many other countries, but in view of the fantastically high profits which the large steel companies have been making for the last few years, is there not a case for reducing the level of these prices?

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the Iron and Steel Board has a statutory responsibility, and I see no reason—certainly not hypothetically for the future—for interfering with the responsibility that has been placed on that Board by Statute.

Nuclear Power Station, Trawsfynydd

9.

asked the Minister of Power what will be the total cost of erection of the nuclear power station at Trawsfynydd, Merioneth.

The total cost of the station, including the nuclear fuel charge, is expected to be about £75 million.

I should like to ask, not in a critical spirit but merely for information, whether work on this project is going on all round the clock? If so, what is the extra cost of doing the work all round the clock as compared with doing it in normal hours?

As far as my right hon. Friend is aware, tenders have been submitted and one tender has been accepted, and the work goes on according to the contractor's desire.

Coal

Imports

4.

asked the Minister of Power having regard to the application made by the Steel Company of Wales for a licence to import Virginian coals from the United States of America, paid for in dollars and hauled largely in American freight ships to South Wales ports of foreign coal into Great Britain, ports, and his policy of obviating all im-for balance of payments and other reasons, whether he will initiate urgent conversations with the British Iron and Steel Federation and other interested bodies with a view to substituting British coal in appropriate grades and prices for the proposed American imports; and whether he will make a statement concerning present policy on coal imports.

8.

asked the Minister of Power whether he will make a statement about the policy of his Department on the private import of coal.

11.

asked the Minister of Power if he will make a statement concerning the Government's present policy on coal imports.

13.

asked the Minister of Power what consultations he has had with the President of the Board of Trade about the effect on collieries in the South Wales coalfield of the import of coal from the United States of America.

14.

asked the Minister of Power if he will make a statement about the Government's intentions on the import of coal.

Because of the importance of the issues involved, I do not expect to make an early statement about the Government's policy on coal imports. This is being considered in consultation with the appropriate authorities. My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade tells me that he intends to defer his decision on the application by the Steel Company of Wales until this examination has been completed.

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that any refusal to allow steel manufacturing companies in Britain to import coal from sources which show an economy in price compared with the price of British coal would be inconsistent with the continuous exhortations of Her Majesty's Ministers to British manufacturers to increase their competitiveness abroad and to reduce their prices? Would he make it clear to Mr. Alfred Robens, Chairman of the National Coal Board, that the fault in this matter really lies with the unwieldy and out-of-date price structure of his Board?

My hon. Friend, with his usual sagacity, has put his finger on two of the important issues I shall be considering.

I do not know about sagacity, but would the Minister, when considering this matter and advising his friends on it, bear in mind that it would be very unfortunate if the slowly mounting confidence in the coal mining industry were to receive another blow—

Yes, yes—and if that confidence should again be diminished the Minister will have to bear in mind that the large number of vacancies that exist, particularly in the South Wales coalfields, will be very difficult to fill. Further, does not the Minister think that the National Coal Board should at least be given an opportunity of proving its faith in mechanisation and greater production before it receives this further blow?

If I may turn for a moment to sagacity, may I ask the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro)— —

Order. The hon. Member cannot ask questions of persons other than Ministers.

Then may I ask whether the Minister will take steps to initiate conversations between the Coal Board, himself and other interested parties to see if we can arrive at a satisfactory solution to this problem, which may be only temporary?

That is precisely the course I have in mind; to hold this kind of consultation with the appropriate interests. As to issues, I think that the main issues are the whole question of the competitiveness of the steel industry abroad, and also the competitiveness of the coal industry at home.

If my right hon. Friend and his right hon. Friends are unable to give a categorical statement at this stage about Her Majesty's Government's policy on coal imports, can we assume that this is an assertion that Her Majesty's Government are nothing like ready to announce some progress towards Britain joining the Common Market? Secondly, can my right hon. Friend say to what extent the American coal producers are subsidised by the American Government?

I think that my hon. Friend ought to put his question about the Common Market to my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal. As to subsidisation of the coal industry in the United States, I understand that the chief difference between the pithead price of American coal and the pithead price of coal here is caused by the very different geological nature of the coal seams.

Would the Minister say at this stage whether he has consulted the National Union of Mineworkers about this problem? Further, has his Department made an assessment of all the adverse factors involved in a deal like this, and does he think that it would be in the national interest for deals of this nature—importing American coal cheap into the Welsh coalfields—to be made?

I have noticed certain views expressed by the National Union of Mineworkers on this question, and, certainly, if anybody has views to put forward, the Government would consider them in reaching a decision.

If it is eventually decided that this one company may import coal from abroad, will the Minister make it clear that any other company may do the same; and that the National Coal Board may also import steel from outside countries not affected by the 10 per cent. tariff which protects steel now?

There is another Question on the Order Paper about steel purchasing by the Coal Board, but I may say that there is nothing to prevent the Board, if it so chooses, from importing steel from abroad.

Reverting to the Minister's reply to the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro), may I take it that the right hon. Gentleman agreed with the suggestion that the price structure of the Board should be reviewed? If so, does that include the realising by the Minister that the Coal Board's prices are fixed compared with imported prices? Is it not true that ever since the Board was established its prices have been subject to Ministerial approval?

In answer to the latter part of the right hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, I said that I thought that one of the main issues here was the question of the competitiveness of the coal industry at home. That is an issue that I think we shall have to consider now, and I shall consider it with the Chairman of the Board. It is a most relevant issue.

But would not the Minister agree that the Board's prices are not fixed without the Minister's approval?

There has certainly always been consultation with the Minister, and before that arrangement was changed a great deal of discussion would have to take place.

Before any decision is taken, will the Government ensure that coal exported from the United States is not being sold below the cost of production; otherwise, it would surely come within the ambit of our anti-dumping legislation?

6 and 7.

asked the Minister of Power (1) what was the difference between the cost of the imported coal from the United States of America, and the price it was sold on the home market, for each of the years 1947 to 1956;

(2) if he will state the amount of coal in tons per year which was imported into this country from the United States of America for the period 1947 to 1957.

19.

asked the Minister of Power what was the total tonnage of coal imported from the United States of America during the period of coal shortage; what was the loss sustained by the National Coal Board in the sale of this imported coal in the home market; what proportion of this coal was sold to the steel industry; and what was the loss sustained on this by the National Coal Board.

I will circulate in the OFFICIAL REPORT a table showing for each year from 1947 to 1957 the tonnage and cost of coal imported from the United States, the cost of imports from all sources and the loss per ton on imported coal. I am afraid I cannot state the loss on American coal alone or the quantities of this coal sold to the steel industry.

I appreciate the difficulty that the Minister may have in giving information on the amount of loss resulting from the cost of the importation of American coal, but could he impress on the Steel Company of Wales that as it received subsidised coal during a shortage of fuel energy, it is now being very audacious in asking for the importation of American coal because freight charges are rather low?

I think that is also contained in the important issues that I shall be considering with the other topic we have discussed, and I should like to leave it at that.

While we shall, of course, have to study the figures that the Minister is to supply, is it not true that the supply of coal for a period to other industries at less than the cost to the Coal Board means that the coal industry was subsidising other industries? Secondly, since the Minister is not able

Coal imports from U.S.A.Average c.i.f. cost per ton of coal importsAverage loss per ton on imported coal
from U.S.A.from all sources
Thousand tons£££
19475994·934·882·20
194894·865·08Not known
19493·59Not known
195045·735·37Not known
19511,1857·167·194·70
19522308·338·603·70
19536·282·10
19544785·765·721·70
19555,3017·026·512·45
19563,1208·007·913·15
19572,0149·198·954·05

Accidents, Northumberland And Cumberland

12.

asked the Minister of Power if he has received the report of the Inspector of Mines and Quarries for Northumberland and Cumberland concerning the accident rate; and what action he proposes to take in the matter.

My right hon. Friend has read this report. While noting the points raised, he does not think it calls for any special action on his part.

Does not the Parliamentary Secretary recognise that the increase in the accident rate, both underground and on the surface, is causing considerable disquiet in this section of the mining industry? Will he not also agree that at present, with the intensive mechanisation of the industry which is now going on, there is a need for a reassessment of the

to give us the specific figures about the amount lost by way of subsidy on coal, will he please ask the Iron and Steel Board to provide those figures so that the House may be fully aware of all the issues involved in considering the matter?

I should like to make two things clear. Very little, if any, of this imported coal went to the steel industry, and I must point out, in order to keep the perspective right, that the losses which the Coal Board made at that time were, as I am sure the hon. Gentleman knows, more than balanced by the premium on the coal they exported from this country.

Following is the table:

safety measures that may be taken? In this connection, would the Parliamentary Secretary consider the introduction of a more intensive educational drive among both employers and employees regarding this problem?

Neither the Ministry nor the National Coal Board is indifferent to any rise in the accident rate, but the rise shown in this case is not significant. In fact, the accident rate in this area is just about the national average. Accident rates fluctuate up and down in mining year by year, but in this case we do not consider that there is any real cause for concern. In reply to the hon. Gentleman's second point, a review is going on all the time into the needs of mechanisation with regard to safety. Exemptions are given for new appliances and the conduct of the industry under these exemptions is carefully watched and, when full experience is achieved, new regulations are introduced. With regard to educational courses, these courses for safety are going on all the time. The National Association of Colliery Managers and the Institution of Mining Engineers and various other bodies are constantly discussing and publicising papers on the safety aspect of coal mining.

Pneumoconiosis

15.

asked the Minister of Power what reports he has received from his inspectors of recent action taken, or intended to be taken, in coal mines to improve the working conditions of those who suffer from pneumoconiosis and, in particular, those who suffer from other respiratory weaknesses which are worsened by different degrees of pneumoconiosis; if he is satisfied with the arrangements for medical examinations and assessments in North Staffordshire and within the city of Stoke-on-Trent; and if he will order his inspectors to make a special inquiry into these matters in that area, and to recommend what action should be taken to improve conditions.

Adequate arrangements for providing suitable working conditions for miners suffering from pneumoconiosis already exist, and no change is contemplated. The arrangements under the Industrial Injuries Act for medical examination and assessment in North Staffordshire and in Stoke-on-Trent are the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance, who considers they are adequate. My right hon. Friend sees no reason for ordering a special inquiry by his inspectors.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that when the legislation was being put through this House an undertaking was given to hon. Members that where there was a doubt in the matter of industrial diseases the man would be given the benefit of the doubt? Would the Parliamentary Secretary consider this large number of letters I have received proving that this is not being done? Is he aware that the Ministry of National Insurance is now considering, together with the Trades Union Congress, the whole question of assessments and diag- noses, and will he instruct the Coal Board officers in this area to give evidence to the Minister of National Insurance?

As I said in my reply, the matters which the hon. Gentleman raises are matters for my right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance, and any assistance he desires from that Ministry will, I am sure, be readily given.

National Coal Board (Steel Purchases)

16.

asked the Minister of Power how much steel, in money terms, was bought by the National Coal Board in 1960.

The figure the Minister has given represents money spent in the United Kingdom, since the Coal Board imported no steel during 1960. Will the Minister bring that fact to the attention of the President of the Board of Trade?

I am sure my right hon. Friend, the President of the Board of Trade, is already aware of that. The Coal Board, as the hon. Gentleman knows, is free to buy steel from the market which it considers the best, and it happens that in 1960 it chose to buy at home.

Miners

17.

asked the Minister of Power what general direction he has given to the National Coal Board about the shortage of miners.

None, Sir. My right hon. Friend has frequent consultations with the Chairman on this subject, as well as on the Board's plans for increasing productivity to combat the shortage.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware of the shortage of mine workers in Lancashire, and will he give an assurance that no pits will be closed because of this shortage?

We are well aware that a shortage exists in various districts. We have no reason to think that the shortage of miners will cause any closures in any district.

Does that reply mean that the Ministry is not concerned about the shortage of miners? Might I direct the Parliamentary Secretary's attention to one area I have in mind in South Wales where there is a shortage?

I gave no such impression. It is impossible to deny that some anxiety exists about the rate at which men are leaving the industry, but the urgent task facing the Board is to offset the effects of lower manpower by higher productivity. The Chairman of the Coal Board has initiated what he has described as the greatest mechanisation drive in the history of the industry, and its success is vital to the industry.

Mines (Improvements)

18.

asked the Minister of Power if, in view of improved results following his modernisation and mechanisation policy for the coal industry, including the level of productivity and output per man shift, he will give a general direction to the National Coal Board to increase their expenditure on matters affecting the conditions of work of miners, especially cleaning and brightening coalmines, improving welfare arrangements, stopping the emission of fumes from coal tips, and improving the appearance of coal-tips by covering them with grass and shrubs.

No, Sir. The Board is aware of the importance of these matters and substantial improvement have already been made. It is for the Board to decide how much shall be spent on them.

In view of the remarkable results that have been obtained nationally, and in this area particularly, in regard to output and productivity, has not the time arrived when the Minister should give the Coal Board directions that it should introduce some reciprocity in regard to improving the locality in which miners and their relatives live?

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that a dark black shadow has been cast over Fenton and Longton, which should have been removed long ago, and will the Parliamentary Secretary give an undertaking that the suggestions made in this Question will receive the consideration of the Ministry and of the Coal Board?

I am unable to discuss a specific local question such as the one raised by the hon. Gentleman, but I think all hon. Members will agree that the National Coal Board has nothing to be ashamed of in its record in caring for the social welfare of its employees as far as financial resources allow—and I urge the hon. Gentleman to look at the industry as a whole. Far from having extra money to spend, the Coal Board will show a substantial deficit for last year. The Coal Board is always looking after the social interests of its workers.

Ministry Of Aviation

Satellite Launchers

23.

asked the Minister of Aviation if he will state in greater detail the proposals which have been made to the French Government jointly to develop satellite launchers, including the use of the Blue Streak rocket.

The proposals, which are joint Anglo-French proposals, have been made by these two countries to the other countries in Western Europe. They are set out in detail in HANSARD of 6th February last.

Can the Minister say to what extent this programme might be jeopardised by the recent American suggestion to Europe that they could have rockets at cut prices? Is the Minister aware of the urgency of more positive thinking in this rocket field because of the danger of losing our valuable and trained scientists and technologists?

I do not anticipate any such danger arising out of the American offer, which is in a different field. We are contemplating an offer of manufacturing jointly rockets which can be used for commercial as well as for scientific purposes and of manufacturing them inside Europe. This is quite different from the American offer.

Will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear to the German Government that we are not prepared to go on waiting for ever for their decision, and that unless we get a satisfactory answer soon we shall be prepared to go ahead with the French ourselves?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Blue Streak is more or less sitting there waiting for somebody to put a match to it, and could he show me how I could put a match to the Government?

28.

asked the Minister of Aviation if it is the Government's intention to accept the United States Government's offer of launchers for space research.

We have already accepted a United States offer to make launchers available to put satellites into orbit containing experiments and instrumentation designed by us. We hope to continue to use United States launchers as well as European launchers in the future.

In spite of the Minister's statement about American collaboration, is it not a fact that Dean Rusk's offer is something different? Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that it will not interfere with the Commonwealth co-operative effort with Europe on, say, Blue Streak, despite what he said earlier?

I do not think that Mr. Rusk's offer is different. A year ago there were few friends for the Blue Streak project. Almost every notice that we had was critical. Today we have many friends and a good chance of European co-operation, and I am bound to say it is rather refreshing to be pressed to go it alone. I think this is progress.

What people are worried about in connection with the Government's policy is whether the Government are prepared to make a decision. There has been so much complacency and dithering that we are rather worried. We are anxious to strengthen the Minister to do something.

I am most grateful to the hon. Gentleman for the keen support that he is showing for this project which I regard as technologically most important.

Will the Minister remember that in the Blue Streak debate I deplored even the military abandonment of the programme? As I am now urging the Government to go it alone even if the French and Germans will not co-operate, will he remember, when the Government do it, that I advocated it, as he has come round to my view on the first point?

I will put the hon. Gentleman into a very special position of his own. He will be the first man we put up.

Woomera Range

24.

asked the Minister of Aviation to what extent full co-operation is assured from the Australian Government to launch rockets from Woomera based on an agreement between the United Kingdom and French Governments.

As this is a European project operating from a Commonwealth base, could the right hon. Gentleman say to what extent we own and control Woomera range and whether we are free to go ahead with any space programme from Woomera range without any interference from the Australian Government?

Woomera range is used for a much wider range of operations than that of launching the satellite venture. I have always felt that the closest co-operation with the Australians is necessary, and before any approach was made to Europe at all I made a point of going along and having a discussion with the Australians on this matter.

Blue Steel

25.

asked the Minister of Aviation what progress is being made with the development and production of the Blue Steel missile.

I have nothing to add to the reply given to the hon. Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Critchley) on 10th May.

Can the Minister say whether the production plans for this missile are up to time and whether the cost of the missile is now skyrocketing? Can he also say whether production is being held up by the American intervention in N.A.T.O. which is depriving us of a market for these missiles?

I do not know of anything that is preventing a market for these missiles. On projects of this kind which are very important from the military point of view, I do not think it is helpful to make periodic statements on exactly how they are going. Such statements can only be helpful to a potential enemy and can be of no assistance to anybody else. Therefore, beyond saying that production is proceeding normally, I would not propose to answer further.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the original plans were based upon finding an extra market for these weapons in N.A.T.O. and that this is now being frustrated, and is this not bound to have a serious effect upon home production?

Almost everything is based upon the hope of finding a future market somewhere. But this is a very important weapon. It is not just a commercial proposition; it is a military proposition.

Blue Streak

26.

asked the Minister of Aviation if he will make a statement on the future of Blue Streak.

The technical development of Blue Streak as the first stage of a statellite launcher has been proceeding satisfactorily. Other countries in Europe have been studying the Anglo-French proposals for a combined effort in this field, and in particular the Federal German Government have been conducting a detailed technical evaluation of them. We hope to receive their conclusions shortly.

Does the Minister realise that no worth-while technical advance has been made with Blue Streak for over a year and that the teams concerned are being dissipated and demoralised? Does the right hon. Gentleman remember that he once resigned from the Government because they were trying to spend too much money? Will he now promise to resign if they do not spend enough money to launch an independent space programme?

The hon. Gentleman's first two assertions are based on the wrong information. It is not true to say that we have made no technical progress. We have done very well up at Spadeadam and we are making excellent technical progress. There is no question of anybody feeling upset or dispirited there. If the hon. Gentleman would like to go up there at any time I would be very happy to make arrangements for him to do so.

May I put again the supplementary question that I asked on an earlier Question, namely, whether the Minister will let the German Government know that we are not prepared to wait for ever for them and that if they are not prepared to come in with us soon we shall go ahead with the French ourselves?

I do not think there is any need to let the German Government know that. I am sure they intend to report to us shortly on their technical evaluation.

Abbotsinch Airport

27.

asked the Minister of Aviation if he will state approximately the sum he intends spending on the development and facilities of Abbotsinch Airport.

It is expected that the initial expenditure will be about £1¾ million.

Is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that that is very much below the sum I anticipated, which was nearer £3 million? Can he assure me that within that sum he will be able to provide sufficient for dealing with any strengthening of the runways which may be found to be necessary; and secondly, will he also be able to provide terminal facilities which are of a character in design, with space and comfort, worthy of the increasing traffic at Renfrew Airport and also worthy of the twentieth century?

We are very economic and we shall be able to provide all the facilities which are necessary.

Ministry Of Health

Death Certificates

29.

asked the Minister of Health whether he will introduce legislation to make it compulsory for doctors to see the body of a patient after death, before issuing a death certificate.

I am not satisfied that sufficient grounds for legislation exist, but shall be glad to consider with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary any information bearing on this matter which my hon. Friend may wish to bring forward.

While thanking my right hon. Friend for that reply, may I ask whether he is aware that at least one body out of four which is buried in this country is not inspected by a medical practitioner? Is this not an unfair burden, particularly in view of our ageing population, to place on the survivor of two elderly persons the responsibility for informing a medical practitioner that death has occurred? Surely this anomaly in the law should be eradicated. There should be no hardship on medical practitioners throughout the country inspecting bodies before a death certificate is issued.

In the great majority of the 25 per cent. of cases which my hon. Friend mentioned, death takes place in a hospital. A change in legislation here would be a substantial addition to the duties imposed on doctors, and my right hon. Friend and I am not satisfied on the present information available that this would be justified.

Poliomyelitis

31.

asked the Minister of Health what percentage of the population of the United Kingdom has now been inoculated against poliomyelitis since the introduction of the vaccine.

Is it not regrettable that such a large number of mature adults should willingly run the risk of contracting paralytic poliomyelitis when preventive medicine is available at no cost and at very little personal inconvenience? Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that the publicity on the effectiveness of this vaccine is wholly adequate?

Of course, it is the priority classes for whom immunisation is particularly important, and there the proportions are much better. For example, of those up to 18 years of age nearly 80 per cent. have obtained immunity. I would certainly not overlook any opportunity of stressing the importance to those at risk of obtaining immunity if they have not already got it.

Will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the overwhelming majority of those persons who contract poliomyelitis are those who have not been inoculated?

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what proportion of the total population is at present eligible for immunisation?

41.

asked the Minister of Health what information he has received from the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics concerning the value of oral vaccine against poliomyelitis.

I understand that oral vaccine has only been used experimentally in the United States of America but has been widely used in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. All information available about experience in these countries was taken into consideration by the Joint Committee on Poliomyelitis Vaccine in its recent advice to me.

Is it not a fact that the Sabin vaccine used in the United States has been administered in hundreds of thousands of cases and has given complete immunity, and that in the Soviet Union a Sabin-type vaccine has been used in millions of cases and has given complete immunity? Will he not make a special study of this vaccine, for which it is claimed at any rate that a single oral dose will give complete immunity?

The Joint Committee to which I referred has this in mind, of course, and is studying it. It will, no doubt, advise me further, but its present advice to me, by which I must be guided, is that the vaccination programme should continue to be based on the killed vaccine.

42.

asked the Minister of Health what loss would accrue to his Department if oral vaccine against poliomyelitis were used in substitution for the existing methods of vaccination.

My present advice is that oral vaccine is not a substitute for the existing methods.

Will the right hon. Gentleman define more closely what he meant by "immunisation" in reply to a Question from the hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Holland)? Is it not a fact that it is now considered that four inoculations have to be given before immunisation is complete? In the circumstances, will not he give very urgent attention to the question of substituting the oral vaccine which, it is claimed at any rate, gives complete protection after a single dose? Further will he give an absolute assurance that commercial considerations of any kind will not be permitted to stand in the way of the introduction of the oral vaccine if it can be established that the oral vaccine gives speedier and better protection?

The answer to the last part of the hon. Gentleman's question is an unqualified "Yes". He referred to "immunisation" as I had used the word in a former reply. His right hon. Friend the Member for West Bromwich (Mr. Dugdale) pointed out that the vast majority of cases of polio occur where there has not been vacination by the existing methods. My present advice, by which I must be guided, is that those existing methods are the best available for securing the highest possible personal immunity.

Prescription Charges

34.

asked the Minister of Health what reply he has sent to the resolution on prescription charges unanimously adopted by the Health Executive Council for Southampton on 21st March, 1961, which has been sent to him.

Is the Minister aware that this executive council, which comprises voluntary and professional workers of all political parties experienced in and devoted to the Health Service, has expressed its alarm at the damage which might be done to the Health Service by the new prescription charges? Is he aware that the bulk of the voluntary and professional workers in the great Health Service which he leads will welcome the day when he sees the light and brings the Health Service back into the state in which it was?

I am to see a deputation from the Executive Councils' Association later this week. I shall, of course, direct my mind to anything that it has to say to me.

How many communications has the Minister had from executive councils in Great Britain protesting against these prescription charges?

I cannot say without notice, but I have no doubt that what the Executive Councils' Association has to say to me later this week will be broadly in line with those communications.

40.

asked the Minister of Health whether he is aware that, since the increase in prescription charges, an increasing number of people are unable to afford prescribed items from chemists immediately; and what information he has received from chemists dispensing under the National Health Service as to the extent of this delay between presentation of prescriptions and the collection of medicines.

Is the Minister aware that in certain areas this is causing grave concern and also is causing a great deal of trouble to chemists? If I send him the necessary information, will he take due note of it?

Yes. It is only on the basis of concrete cases that any appreciation can be gained.

Coronary Heart Disease

36.

asked the Minister of Health if he will give information about the tests with cod liver oil being officially made for the relief of coronary heart disease.

Why not? Is the Minister aware that cod liver oil is our richest indigenous source of unsaturated oils, that it is a valuable by-product of the British fishing industry, and that the American Heart Council has stated quite categorically that it is effective in this type of disease? In the circumstances, should not tests be undertaken?

It is not for me or for my Department to indicate what medical investigations should take place.

Is not the Minister making a quite unreliable statement? Is it not his duty to see to it that the best provision is made to deal with various diseases? Why on earth does he not take note of the very many indications given that tests of this kind should be undertaken at once?

It is my responsibility to secure that there is provision for whatever treatment the medical profession thinks right and wise, but it is not my responsibility to indicate the most promising lines of medical research.

Is there not a gap in medical provision in this country if there is no central body which can be authorised and instructed to investigate certain lines of treatment and recommend them to the medical profession?

"Authorised" and "instructed" are two different things. As to "authorised", the answer is "Yes". As to "instructed" by a member of the Government, the answer is "No".

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the wholly unsatisfactory reply which the Minister has given, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.

Mental Nursing Homes (Inspection)

37.

asked the Minister of Health what instructions he has issued to local health authorities regarding the inspection of mental nursing homes in accordance with S.I. 1960, No. 1272; and whether he will require local authorities to employ suitably qualified persons to report upon the treatment provided for patients in such nursing homes.

I expect registration authorities to ensure that the persons inspecting are suitably qualified. This and other points are dealt with in Circular 18/60, of which I am sending the hon. Member a copy.

Does not the Minister agree that private nursing homes are unique in having a direct financial interest in retaining patients as long as possible? Does not this factor make it all the more necessary for inspection to be thorough and searching, and will the Minister agree that this can hardly be done unless a trained psychiatrist is employed by the local health authority when carrying out inspections? Further, is it not a fact that many of these homes give patients little or no treatment, and ought not this to be looked into?

Undoubtedly, inspection is a very important safeguard here. That is why it has to take place every six months. As I said, inspection cannot serve its purpose unless it is carried out by suitably qualified persons, and I have emphasised this to the authorities concerned.

Drugs (Purchase)

39.

asked the Minister of Health what the saving would be if, based on the total usage for the last 12 months, supplies of chlorothiazide, tetracycline and chloramphenicol at £5, £37 5s. and £27 per 1,000 tablets, respectively, were bought from continental instead of British manufacturers.

Is my right hon. Friend aware of any reason for this considerable difference in the prices charged by continental and British manufacturers? Does he think that it would act as an incentive to British manufacturers to reduce their prices if we purchased more from the Continent?

My hon. Friend's Question asks what the saving would be, on certain assumptions. The purchase of these articles from abroad involves several issues, including that of royalty payments.

Can the Minister say when supplies officers may expect clear instructions from his Department about the purchase of drugs from the Continent?

Doctors And Dentists

44.

asked the Minister of Health whether he will publish the names of doctors and dentists who are fined by local health executive councils.

Even if this is about the only official secret which the Government are able to keep, is it not nevertheless a public scandal that doctors and dentists who are paid out of public funds and who let the public down, should be covered by this conspiracy of silence? Is he not aware that public opinion is very strongly in favour of these guilty persons being named?

Where it is held by the National Health Service tribunal that, in the public interest, a practitioner should not continue to practise under the Health Service, then the name is published. But in the cases where the name is withheld, which the hon. Gentleman has in mind, what has happened is that there has been established a breach of contract between the practitioner concerned and the executive council. In a case of that kind it is not the practice that names should be disclosed. Any remedy, either civil or criminal, against the practitioner is unaffected.

Does not the Minister appreciate that to the public at large it is rather mysterious why a doctor's moral lapses should nearly always obtain the widest publicity whereas professional shortcomings, which may well affect the life or health of a doctor's, or dentist's patients, are shrouded in anonimity? Does not he think that the situation might be looked at again?

When matters are brought to light in the course of these disciplinary cases which should be investigated by the General Medical Council or the General Dental Council, they are brought to the attention of these bodies, which are the appropriate ones for that purpose.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is considerable concern about this matter, particularly among the public who want to have the option of going to reputable dentists? Does not he agree that the vast majority of reputable dentists, particularly in Birmingham where we have had a very bad case recently, very much resent the fact that suspicion is put on everybody? How can the public be protected? Where do they come in in the Minister's estimation?

If the professions concerned wish to represent to me that names should be published, I will take account of their point of view.

Would the right hon. Gentleman consider the desirability of publishing the names of people who commit a second offence and of making it clear that they are in breach of contract so that, although it is not a criminal offence, the public will be in a position to judge the worth of their work?

That is met by my earlier answers, in which I pointed out that, when it is undesirable that a person should continue to provide services in the National Health Service, the name of the practitioner concerned is published and he is taken off the list. Secondly, where it appears prima facie that there are matters which ought to be brought to the attention of the General Medical Council or the General Dental Council they are brought to their attention.

The right hon. Gentleman said that if the professions represent to him that the policy should be changed he would take account of that representation. Does not he consider that the public, the patients, have an interest in this matter? My hon. Friends are representing the public interest. Will he take that into account?

The hon. Member for Birmingham, Small Heath (Mr. Denis Howell) said that the profession in Birmingham——

I was answering that part of his question. I have been dealing with the concern of the public in all the answers which I have given. The hon. Gentleman drew attention to what he said was the point of view of the profession. I replied that if the profession believed that the names ought to be published, naturally I would pay attention to that view.

On a point of order. In view of the completely unsatisfactory nature of the Minister's reply, I hope to raise the matter on the Adjournment as soon as possible.

Motor Tricycles

46.

asked the Minister of Health whether it is possible to convert single-seater all-weather propelled tricycles, other than petrol-powered tricycles, to enable an additional person to be carried.

As it is quite impossible to convert these invalid carriages, will the right hon. Gentleman undertake to give disabled people who are not war-disabled the same kind of car which is given to war-disabled people to enable them to have company when they go out on journeys on their vehicles?

That is a very different matter and one which was fully debated on 30th June last. I have nothing to add to what my predecessor then said.

The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that the trade union movement has requested this and that he has been asked to receive a deputation. I hope that his mind is not made up on this matter and that he will receive the deputation with an open mind and will listen to a very sound argument.

Hospitals

New Hospital, Wexham

33.

asked the Minister of Health if he has now authorised the construction of the new hospital at Wexham, Buckinghamshire; and when work is proposed to start on the building.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when that is likely to be? Is he aware of the needs of the expanding population in the neighbourhood of Slough, on the Langley London County Council estate, the Britwell London County Council estate and the Wexham estate, which make the need for this hospital urgent?

Yes, I am aware of those matters, and that is why I have authorised the hospital authority to go to tender. I dare say that a start will be made as soon as tenders are in and a contractor has been selected.

Three Counties Mental Hospital, Arlesey

35.

asked the Minister of Health when the London Chest Hospital, Country Branch, Arlesey, will be vacating accommodation it at present occupies at the Three Counties Mental Hospital, Arlesey.

I am consulting the board of governors and will communicate with my hon. Friend.

In his investigation, will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that, although the work of the London Chest Hospital is much appreciated locally, the Three Counties Hospital is badly understaffed at the moment; both men and women recruits to the staff have had to be turned away solely because of lack of accommodation?

Yes, Sir, but the future development of the London Chest Hospital is a factor which, in part at any rate, determines the rate at which the site in question can be relinquished.

Hammersmith Hospital (Appointment)

38.

asked the Minister of Health what decision he has made with regard to an inquiry into the appointment of a new secretary to the Board of Governors of the Hammersmith Post-Graduate Teaching Hospital Group.

That was a fortnight ago, and the Minister said he would look into the matter as soon as possible. In view of the widespread concern both inside and outside the hospital service about this appointment, and his own duty in the matter, will the Minister deal with it more expeditiously and come to a decision very soon?

Drugs (Purchases)

43.

asked the Minister of Health what is the approximate purchase price to hospitals of such average prescriptions to outpatients as 25 tablets aspirin 5 grain, 2 ounces liquid extract of malt, and 25 ascorbic acid 50 mg.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that it is utterly unfair that hospitals are expected to charge poor people 2s. for these typical prescriptions of which he has just given the price? In view of this, will he reconsider his prescription charges?

The figures which I gave in reply to the hon. Member's Question represent the costs of the ingredients. They are not the cost of dispensing prescriptions in these amounts, which, I am advised, would have been substantially over 2s. in each case.

St Andrew's Hospital, Billericay (Discharged Patient)

45.

asked the Minister of Health if he will inquire into the case of Mrs. H. Salmons, Shaw Avenue, Barking, Essex, who was seriously injured in the Pitsea railway accident on 18th April, 1961, in which her husband was killed, and who was discharged from St. Andrew's Hospital, Billericay, 11 days later, still suffering considerable pain, with an intimation that, unless her relatives could arrange for her transport, she might have to travel home by train, as it was too far for an ambulance to go; and if he will make a statement.

I have had a report from the hospital management committee. I am told that, with Mrs. Salmons agreement, arrangements were made for her to go home in her son-in-law's car and she was considered fit to do so. There was no question of a train journey being the only alternative, and I am sorry that the misapprehension could arise.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware how this misapprehension arose? Is he aware that a spokesman of the hospital has given an interview about this in the local Press—in itself a rather unusual procedure when a Question in this House is pending—in which it was admitted that a relative of this lady was told that it would be better to have a car for her, since an ambulance might not be able to take her all the way home, and that otherwise she might be sent by train—still suffering from serious injuries sustained in a train crash, ten days before, in which her husband was killed?

I have written to the hon. Member today in detail. He was good enough to give me details of this case, and I inquired into it. I am satisfied that there was no question of a train journey being the alternative to her being taken home by private car.

Would an ambulance in fact have been able to take her all the way from Billericay to Barking, which is not very far? If so, why was it ever suggested, even faintly, that she might have to go by train?

Not in all cases is ambulance the method by which patients on discharge return home. It appears to be the case, as the hon. Member says, that a train journey was mentioned among other alternatives on an occasion when this was discussed. There was no question that it was with that as the only alternative that she went home in a private car.

For the sake of the record, will the Minister make it clear that ambulances can, and frequently do, travel distances considerably in excess of this in the London area?

Calderstones Hospital (Discharged Patients)

47.

asked the Minister of Health how many of the 551 patients discharged from compulsory powers at Calderstones Hospital during the six months to 1st May, 1961, have asked to be released; and how many have now left.

Patients not subject to detention do not have to ask for their discharge; 53 were already on leave of absence; 11 others have left.

Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that 551 is an extremely high number and that the numbers he has given form a very small proportion of the total? Is he aware of the feeling in Lancashire that many people have been wrongly detained in Calderstones Hospital in the past and that special measures should be taken to discharge them?

These patients or their relatives can secure their discharge from hospital without formality, but, as the hon. Member realises, in fact they are in need of the treatment and care which they receive at the hospital. No doubt that is the reason why the great majority of the informal patients remain there.

With regard to the high number 551, as I said to the hon. Member last week, this reflects the change both in the law and in outlook which was enshrined in the Mental Health Act, 1959.

Hms "Leopard" (Visit To Angola)

(by Private Notice) asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty whether he will make a statement about the good will visit of H.M.S. "Leopard" to Angola.

H.M.S. "Leopard" was one of three of Her Majesty's ships which visited Freetown during the Sierra Leone independence celebrations. Since then her sister ship, the "Lynx", has been visiting the newly independent former French Colonial Territories, and H.M.S. "Leopard", while returning to Simonstown, has visited Ghana and Nigeria and arrived this morning at Luanda.

As my noble Friend showed in his Explanatory Statement which accompanied the Navy Estimates for 1961, visits by the Royal Navy are not confined to countries whose policies are identical with our own: for example, the map annexed to the Statement showed that Dubrovnik and Leningrad were visited last year.

I welcome the opportunity to emphasise that this visit, which was planned last February, is not connected with colonial policy. To cancel it at this time would have been an insult to a friendly nation and a N.A.T.O. ally.

Does the hon. Member realise that we are quite well aware that this visit is not concerned with colonial policy? It seems to run straight across it. Does the Admiralty live in a self-sealing container, insulated from the rest of Government policy? Is the hon. Member aware, for instance, that at the United Nations a resolution was passed by an overwhelming majority condemning the Portuguese behaviour in Angola and that we explained our abstention on the ground that, while we agreed with the resolution, we did not agree with, the right to pass it?

Has the hon. Member consulted his right hon. and hon. Friends at the Colonial Office or the Commonwealth Relations Office? Has it occurred to him that while this may appear to be a good will visit to the Portuguese Government, it appears to be an exceedingly ill-willed visit to every African in Africa? Will not he give instructions to H.M.S. "Leopard" should immediately up-anchor and proceed to some other urgent duty which has been discovered for her?

Perhaps I may try to deal with some of those seven supplementary questions. The visit was cleared with the Foreign Office beforehand. It is not generally appreciated that the term "good will" is used by the Admiralty to cover all overseas visits. I make that point because over 800 separate overseas visits of this type have been paid by the Royal Navy in the present calendar year. It has never been the Government's policy to cancel arrangements for such visits as an automatic reaction to local political difficulties.

Does not my hon. Friend agree that the value of these visits is not only showing the flag, but also helping our trade? Portugal is our oldest ally. Surely we have a right to make these visits.

When this visit was cleared with the Foreign Office, was the Foreign Office aware that a revolution was in progress there, or was it completely in the dark? The hon. Member refers to a visit to Leningrad. Was this made on the assumption that the revolution of 1917 was still in progress?

I made the point—not in connection with the Leningrad visit—that we have a planned series of visits in very large numbers. We keep in touch with the Foreign Office and obtain its views, as we did in this case. Last year, we visited Korea during the spring riots and also visited Japan. We do not take account of the changing political situation, although on this visit we consulted the Foreign Office at every stage.

Can my hon. Friend say whether the ships of any other nations have visited this country since the emergency? Secondly, is it the job of the House of Commons to tell the Navy where its ships may go on social visits? Thirdly, would it not be a good thing to weigh one's words carefully and not to use them with the levity with which they are used by hon. Members opposite?

I believe that United States warships have paid a visit to this port quite recently. I have been urged by the Opposition that none of Her Majesty's warships should visit South Africa either. I think that it would be a very sad day for the Royal Navy if we were to decide never to visit any of those ports on the West Coast of Africa or South Africa. On the whole, the Royal Navy is a welcome visitor and is deeply respected wherever it goes.

When did another warship last visit Angola or Luanda? Is the hon. Member not aware that it is repugnant to a very large number of people that this visit should take place during the revolution? It is not just that it is taking place to a country with whom we may not always agree; it is that the visit is being made during a revolution in which, from such information as we can get, which is singularly little, it appears that the Portuguese Government are shooting down men, women and children.

That is a matter which probably comes within Foreign Office purview. That is why we consulted the Foreign Office at all stages about this visit.

Is it possible for the Government to make H.M.S. "Leopard" change her spots and to send her on a good will visit to Havana?

The hon. Member says that this is a normal visit. Is he not aware that there is a very abnormal situation in Angola? Weighing one's words, does not the evidence suggest that in the last few weeks, in Angola, the Portuguese have killed more African people than at any other time during this century?

I am aware of the serious position in Angola. That is why we considered this matter. The Opposition should bear in mind whether the cancellation of the visit would have done more harm than the continuation of the visit.

Will not the hon. Member reconsider the position at this point? Is he not aware that about 20,000 people have been killed in Angola and that it appears to Africans that this visit—even if 800 visits are made—is of the nature of intervention on our part at this stage? Is he not aware that this is the deepest embarrassment to the new African Governments, particularly in Kenya, which we are trying to get going? Will not he consult his right hon. and hon. Friends in the Colonial Office as to whether this ship ought to be immediately withdrawn?

I hope that the hon. and learned Member weighs his words carefully. I do not honestly believe that there is any evidence that 20,000 people have been killed in Angola. This is not a matter which should be thrust across the Table unless there is firm evidence, and I certainly do not know of it. I agree that this is a matter more directly for the Foreign Office.

On the second matter, we have gone there after very careful consultation. The ship is there now. She arrived at 0.800 hours this morning British Summer Time. It is a visit of two or three days—quite a short visit—and I do not think that there is any point in our letting down an old N.A.T.O. ally by withdrawing her at this stage.

Whether 20,000 have been killed or not, was it not clear to the Admiralty, at the moment that the ship was moving in, that there was a civil war going on there? Whatever clearance it had from the Foreign Office before, did the Admiralty then consider whether it should have changed its mind, since appearing there at that moment is clear intervention? At what stage does the Admiralty consider the situation at the moment that it is moving in?

That is precisely why we keep in touch with the Foreign Office until the last moment. This was a matter which had to be considered and the Royal Navy, as other Services, must always be in touch with the Foreign Office and the appropriate Departments. Having done that, we were assured that it was right to continue and that is why we went in.

On a point of order. I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 to consider a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely,

"the refusal of Her Majesty's Government to issue orders to H.M.S. 'Leopard' to leave Angola forthwith."

The hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) asks leave to move the Arjournment of the House under Standing Order No. 9 to consider a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely,

"the refusal of Her Majesty's Government to issue orders to H.M.S. 'Leopard' to leave Angola forthwith."
I do not believe that I could say that was within the Standing Orders, having regard to existing opportunities this week, and, accordingly, I do not feel able to accept the hon. and learned Member's application.

Further to that point of order. When you say that there are opportunities this week, Mr. Speaker, I presume that you are referring to the foreign affairs debate, but the Civil Lord of the Admiralty stated that the ship was on only a three-day visit. The ship will probably have left by then. The importance in this, as we see it, is that this gesture, which would appear to so many people in Africa as Her Majesty's Government taking sides in the dreadful events in Angola, must be cancelled and it would then be too late to cancel it. The visit would have come to an end in the natural course of events.

I appreciate what the hon. and learned Member puts to me. I would ask him and the House to believe that all these considerations were in my mind when I ruled. Nevertheless, I desire to adhere to my decision, because I believe it to be right, and I hope that the House, on reflection, will take that from me.

Further to that point of order. Of course, we accept your Ruling with deference, Mr. Speaker, but may I ask you to go a little further? Standing Orders require in these cases that there should be a definite matter. This is clearly definite. The ship is there. The rules require that it should be a matter of urgent public importance. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) has sought to submit to you that it is urgent, since the ship is there for only two or three days, and it is of public importance in terms of our intervention in what appears to be a civil war. I would have thought that all this could not be controverted.

You said, Mr. Speaker, that there would be opportunities later, but, with respect, I see nothing in the Standing Order which introduces the suggestion that if we can debate it later, and provided that it is not too late, it should not arise now. All the issues which the Standing Order requires to be matched up to are matched here. The matter is definite, it is clearly urgent, and clearly of public importance, and the fact that we might have a requiem on it afterwards is not part of the Standing Order.

I understand the points that the right hon. Gentleman puts to me. I quite understand that he finds it difficult to understand the principle. I can, if necessary, give a detailed explanation, but I thought that the House preferred, in the general interest, that the Chair should not give reasons for its Railings on these occasions because experience shows that it inevitably results in argument. I am only the servant of the House. If I decide something wrongly the House can deal with me, but I would infinitely prefer, in the common interest, not to argue the matter now and I would ask the House to accept my Ruling.

Whereas I think that everyone agrees that in many of these cases the House thinks it wise that you should not give reasons, Mr. Speaker, where, in the view of large numbers of hon. Members, there is a strong case for a Motion being put, I think that there is a case for your giving a reason, because we surely must have some guidance in these matters. This seems to us a strong case, on the face of it, and I put it to you that in these circumstances—though it might not always be so—it would be helpful to the whole House if you gave reasons.

I will oblige. The kind of principle which I follow is set out in page 371 of the current edition of Erskine May, where it is stated, under (c):

"the motion has been refused when an ordinary parliamentary opportunity will occur shortly or in time…"
I quite follow that the visit of the vessel may be past by Wednesday, but the opportunity to debate will not and my concept of the proper use of Parliamentary debating time is to bring the Government to book, if the House likes, in respect of a decision taken for which the Government bear responsibility to all of us. I conceive Wednesday as an early enough opportunity for me rightly to say that the debate should not take precedence over the current business of the House when there is an opportunity as early as that.

I do not think that we need fight about it. Maybe we can supplement each other. We do not need to quarrel about it.

The entry on page 371 of Erskine May, Mr. Speaker, offers two alternatives. If a debate may occur shortly for the purpose of bringing the Government to book, that I would understand, but here we are still rather at the point when the Government may be brought not to book but to do—as a large part of the House thinks—the right thing, which is to take the ship away. To debate that, we must debate it, according to Erskine May, in time. If you rule out t