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Business Of The Housem

Volume 801: debated on Tuesday 26 May 1970

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The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
(Mr. Fred Peart)

Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement on the business which we shall ask the House to complete before Dissolution.

As the Order Paper shows, today the House is being invited to dispose of essential Supply; to consider Lords Amendments to three Bills—Merchant Shipping, Local Authorities (Goods and Services) and Building (Scotland); to take the stages of the Republic of The Gambia Bill [ Lords]; and to approve some procedural Motions.

Tomorrow, WEDNESDAY, 27TH MAY, there will be the remaining stages of the Finance Bill.

Lords Amendments to the following Bills: Agriculture, Equal Pay (No. 2), Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons, Local Authority and Social Services, and Trees.

Remaining stages of the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Bill and of the Radiological Protection Bill [ Lords].

Motion to approve the Supplementary Benefits Regulations.

On THURSDAY, 28TH MAY, all stages of the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill, which the House will be asked to agree to formally. Four Double Taxation Orders.

Motions on the Election (Welsh Forms) (No. 5) Regulations and on the Apple and Pear Delevolpment Council (Amendment) Order.

FRIDAY, 29TH MAY—after Royal Assent has been given to Bills agreed to by both Houses—it is expected that Parliament will be prorogued.

During this week it may be necessary to ask the House to consider other business of an urgent character.

Is the Leader of the House aware that it is a great pity that time has not been found this week to complete the remaining stages of the Atomic Energy Bill, which sets up the Nuclear Fuel Company and the Radiochemical Company? Great disappointment will be felt in the Atomic Energy Authority about the delay.

I know that hon. Members will be disappointed about some Measures which are not included, but I think that what I have announced is reasonable.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Government's decision to allow time for the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Bill, introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Arthur Morris), is warmly welcomed on this side of the House, if not on the benches opposite? Can he give a firm assurance that this Bill will reach the Statute Book before the Prorogation of Parliament?

I know that many hon. Members on both sides of the House have given my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Arthur Morris), my Parliamentary Private Secretary, considerable support, and I am very glad that his Bill has been included in the programme. It is a very important Bill, and I congratulate my Parliamentary Private Secretary on it.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we appreciate his making it clear that the Bill went through both Houses of Parliament with the full support of both sides?

I accept that. I thought that I had made it clear. [Interruption.] I hope that the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) will not misunderstand me. I believe that my hon. Friend who was responsible for the Bill has paid tribute to both sides in the spirit mentioned.

Will the Labour Government give time for a debate on the sickening Tory hypocrisy onapartheidsport when we come back on 2nd July? Would my right hon. Friend agree that this would be an appropriate subject on which to expose the Tories' complete lack of concern over racial prejudice?

Order. The hon. Gentleman can ask for time for a debate; he cannot discuss merits.

I understand the feelings of my hon. Friend the Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Winnick), with which, in same ways, I have sympathy, but we cannot discuss the matter next week.

Did I hear the Leader of the House say that the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill would be taken formally? Should it not be debated so as to give back-bench Members an opportunity to raise matters of fundamental constitutional importance, such as the use of public money by the European Movement to intervene in the General Election on behalf of the Common Market?

I should not worry about people who want to intervene, although there may be legal difficulties about that. That is a matter to be taken up elsewhere. I should have thought that we could take the Bill formally, but I understand the hon. Gentleman's point.

Does my right hon. Friend intend to take the Third Reading of the Merchant Shipping Bill formally in view of the Amendments to the Lords Amendments? If it is intended to provide time for a short debate, can my right hon. Friend say at what time it will be taken and assure us that it will not be taken in the middle of the night?

No. I said that we shall consider the Lords Amendments. I hope that we shall proceed quickly. No Third Reading Motion has been tabled. I hope that my right hon. Friend understands.

I did not quite understand what the Leader of the House said about the Consolidated Fund Bill. Did he say that he hoped it would be taken formally, or that it would be taken formally?

I shall ask for it to be taken formally. If the hon. Gentleman is here, he can dissent if he wishes. But he may not be here. If he wishes to be here, I shall understand.

Further to the request of the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Mr. Winnick) for a debate on the Home Secretary's surrender to blackmail and the forces of disorder, will the Home Secretary make a statement to the House on that matter, or are we to understand that all future questions on law and order should be addressed not to the Home Secretary, but to Mr. Peter Hain?

During Business Question time, it is usual to ask me questions about business. The Home Secretary has in no way surrendered, and I am glad that most members of the Police Federation support his action. If the hon. Gentleman wants to moralise, he should condemn racial prejudice.

On a point of order. I am always ready to condemn racial prejudice.

Further to the question asked by the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten), should not the Foreign Secretary be given a chance to explain why he is continuing to use public money to subsidise an organisation which has announced its intention of joining activity in the General Election campaign, namely, the European Movement?

That matter does not arise on Business Questions, but I am prepared to look into it and to convey hon. Member's views to my right hon. Friend.

The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the possibility of other urgent business being taken? Could he tell us what he has in mind? Are any announcements to be made, for example, or is he afraid of being blown off course?

I am not afraid of being blown off course. " Other urgent business " is a normal term to use. If the Opposition want to raise a matter which they think is important, I will respond. There is nothing sinister in this phrase. It is to suit all hon. Members.

May we expect a statement this week from the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity about references to the National Board for Prices and Incomes on the totally unjustifiable increases in the price of food, and the steep increase in fares in London which has been condoned by the Conservative-controlled Greater London Council?

My hon. Friend will have read the report in the Press that the matter is to be investigated. I should not have thought that a special statement was justified, but I will bear the matter in mind.

Are we to have a statement from the Prime Minister on the withholding of the report on doctors' pay?

I should have thought not. No official representations have been made to me. I know that this is an election period, but hon. Members opposite should not be neurotic.