House Of Commons
Thursday 3 July 1980
The House met at half-past Two o'clock
[Mr. SPEAKER in the Chair]
Greater London Council (Money) (No 2) Bill
Read the Third time and passed.
Alexandra Park And Palace Bill Lords (By Order)
Order for Second Reading read.
To be read a Second time upon Thursday 10 July.
Oral Answers To Questions
Drunken Offenders (Overnight Facilities)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department which areas he has selected for the provision of overnight facilities for habitual drunken offenders.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department in which areas he proposes to establish overnight facilities for habitual drunken offendenrs; and if he will make statement.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department in which areas he proposes to establish overnight facilities for habitual drunken offenders.
We are not yet in a position to announce precise proposals but we expect one of the intended three experimental shelters to be established in London and another in the Midlands. We are well advanced in discussions to that end, and hope that the first shelter will be available in the autumn. The location of the third shelter is still under consideration. Further financial provision and extension of the scheme will be considered in the light of the success of the experimental projects.
Given the present pressure on prisons and courts, could not a great deal more be done than is represented by these modest proposals? Could not some of the £4 million in licensing compensation funds, which is lying dormant awaiting a decision from the Home Office, be used?
The present proposals are only a beginning. They cannot be judged solely on the financial sums involved, because they are meant to assist existing centres to be used for a different purpose. The future of compensation funds is still under discussion. The idea that they should be used for such a purpose is a constructive proposal that we are considering seriously.
Why has such a derisory sum been allocated for such an important area? Does not the hon. and learned Gentleman accept—as the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Neubert) has pointed out—that £4 million is lying idle in the county compensation fund? How can £30,000 provide adequate staff cover for three centres and a counselling service? Does not the hon. and learned Gentleman accept that they will help to alleviate the present situation, in which a third of the deaths which occur in police custody involve alcoholics or drug addicts?
I regard the idea that compensation funds should be used for this purpose as constructive and positive. We are considering that idea most seriously. The hon. Gentleman may regard the amount of money provided as inadequate, but it is being provided for a pilot project involving three experimental centres. One must take into account that one is adapting existing centres for further use. We are advised that such sums are sufficient for that purpose.
Will my hon. and learned Friend confirm that the police welcome the development of such centres, particularly as they will obviate the need to process such people through courts and police cells and so on? Will he ensure that when such new centres are put forward, proper advice is made available to those who come into the centres, possibly seeking rehabilitation?
The object of the centres is to divert people from the courts. I confirm that they are being set up in consultation with the police.
Although this is a step in the right direction if we are ultimately to relieve overcrowding in prisons, is the Home Office working in co-ordination with the Department of Health and Social Security as regards the setting up and financing of the centres? Does not the hon. and learned Gentleman accept that the success of the experiment depends partly on the Home Office and partly on the DHSS?
The initial sums for financing the project will be derived not from the Department of Health and Social Security, but from the Home Office. We are very conscious of the need to ensure that the centres operate properly as regards medical advice and facilities.
Is my hon. and learned Friend aware that the discussions that his Department has been having about the compensation fund have been continuing for a long time and some people think that they have got bogged down? Certainly it is very difficult to get answers from his Department. Is he also aware that the Brewers Society has suggested that £2 million of that fund should be dedicated to educational and social inquiries into the whole question of alcoholism? Even if that money cannot be used directly, it could certainly liberate some of the resources that the Home Office has for dealing with this problem.
I am happy to reassure my hon. Friend that the discusions are not bogged down. In fact they are coming on rather well. But the matter requires legislation.
Can the Minister explain the paradox of why his Department suggests that such centres should be opened in London when the DHSS has refused funds for detoxification centres in my area of London? Such centres are not only welcomed by the police but also provide a permanent solution to the problems of alcoholics, rather than the temporary expedient of these wet shelters. Will the Minister co-ordinate the Home Office efforts with those of other Departments in order to ensure that there is an overall Government policy on alcoholism?
There is no paradox and no discrepancy, for the simple reason that the centres that I have described are not detoxification centres. The two detoxification centres that exist in Leeds and Manchester are being reported on next year and the role that such centres can play should be determined in the light of the reports. The cost of extending centres of that kind would be very much greater than the cost of what we are doing, and that is why we think it is sensible to proceed on the present basis until the reports are available.
Police Complaints Procedure
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received regarding his current review of the police complaints procedure.
I have received a few representations from Members of Parliament and others about my consideration of the triennial review report of the Police Complaints Board.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is intense dissatisfaction that complaints against the police are handled by the police themselves and not independently; that the police report, when completed, is not shown to the complainant so that he cannot assess its completeness or reply to any counter-allegation; and that the Director of Public Prosecutions, in deciding whether to prosecute cannot interview the parties concerned directly? For these reasons there is a complete breakdown of public confidence in the whole of the complaints procedure.
The hon. Member has been guilty of some exaggeration in the past and I think he indulged in some exaggeration in his last remark. I remind the hon. Member that the Police Complaints Board was set up by Act of Parliament under the last Government. We are having the triennial review and I shall certainly consider all the matters that he has referred to. However, he should remember that Parliament set the board up as an independent element in the complaints system. His Government, whom he supported, did this, and it is only fair now to consider how it has worked.
Will my right hon. Friend accept that most people seem to think that on the whole the board has done a good job in independently assessing complaints against the police? At the same time, when the review takes place will he consider narrowing the remit of the Police Complaints Board to those really serious complaints that have been complainant-activated—in other words, when the complainant himself asks that the board should consider it? This would get rid of the enormous waste of time involved in considering every single complaint whether it has been referred or not.
I have undertaken to publish the report, and I shall do so before the Summer Recess. I shall make a statement on the reactions to that report at that time and then the House can consider how it wishes—if it wishes—to change the existing set-up.
Will not the right hon. Gentleman agree that there is a great deal of disquiet about this matter and that there is a need for an independent body? Will he also agree that if the body were independent it would benefit the police as much as the general public? Then the police would know that such an independent inquiry had been carried out in their interests as well as the people's interests. For the sake of everyone concerned may I urge the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider his reply?
That is a rather strange remark. I have said that I will reconsider an Act that was passed by the hon. Gentleman's Government to set up an independent element of inquiry into the police. That is what his Government did. I am saying that we should look at the three-year report and then examine the changes that we want to make.
Can my right hon. Friend give us any idea how much police time is taken in pursuing these com- plaints? Will he not agree that a very large proportion of complaints are found to be groundless, and in many cases are mischievous in origin? Is he aware that in some sections of the criminal classes it is almost mandatory to lodge a complaint against the police at the same time as pleading not guilty?
There is a considerable amount of police time involved in some complaints—and I emphasise the word "some"—which turn out to be both trivial and groundless. On the other hand, there are serious and important complaints. I hope that when we examine the three-year report, we can sensibly and quietly differentiate between the two. It may well be that we should look at action on the serious and important complaints, and at the same time realise that too much police time is wasted on the trivial and unnecessary.
Misuse Of Drugs Act 1971
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will seek to amend the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, having regard to the recent House of Lords judgment dealing with the proceeds of crime in the "Operation Julie" drugs case; and if he will make a statement.
The implications of this judgment are not confined to the Misuse of Drugs Act. We are considering what changes in the law may be required.
In view of the startling incapacity of the English law at present to recover by order the ill-gotten gains of criminal offences, will the Minister introduce a simple Bill enabling courts to have the general power to recover gains of this kind? Failing that, will he introduce an interim measure to amend the Misuse of Drugs Act to cover offences of conspiracy and also to cover the profits from drug offences?
I do not think that the problem can be dealt with in a simple way because it is a complex matter. The hon. and learned Member is not doing justice to the existing powers. In most cases the power to fine, which is unlimited in Crown courts, and the power to make compensation orders can deal with these problems. Of course, there are also substantial powers for the enforcement of orders to that effect. None the less, I agree that the judgment of the House of Lords shows a particular problem in a particular area and that is something that we must look at.
I appeal for shorter questions and answers.
In view of the fact that, presumably, these ill-gotten gains were not returned for tax purposes, will my hon. and learned Friend have a word with the Chancellor of the Exchequer in order to see whether three times the tax that is due, or whatever the liability is, could be levied on them? That would mean that the Exchequer would receive all these ill-gotten gains.
I understand that the Inland Revenue is alert to these implications.
Firearms And Shotguns
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has received any representations on the need further to restrict the conditions on which shotgun licences can be obtained since his recent announcements on this matter.
In addition to the representation made by the hon. Member, there have been two letters from members of the public.
Is the Home Secretary aware that many people, who are deeply concerned about the use of firearms by criminals, are greatly dismayed by his complete failure to take effective steps to make it more difficult for people to get hold of shotguns which are then used in crimes of violence? Does he recognise that many of the police take this point of view? Will not he have another look at the issue because we must all realise that it is very important to try to prevent the use of firearms in crime?
Yes, I accept what the hon. Member says about the importance of dealing with firearms in relation to crime. However, I am totally unconvinced that we would gain in that regard by having legislation to control the use of legally-held shotguns, which I do not believe are the real problem.
Will my right hon. Friend confirm that well over 99 per cent. of all firearms used in crime are illegally and illicitly held, and have never been legally held by a firearms certificate holder in Britain?
I cannot confirm the exact figure, but a large proportion of firearms used in crime are illegally held.
Dangerous Drugs (Imports)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satisfied with the operation of the present law regarding the import of dangerous drugs into the United Kingdom, and whether he has any proposals for changing it.
Yes, Sir. We have no proposals for changing the present law controlling the importation of dangerous drugs.
May I congratulate the Merseyside drugs squad and Customs and Excise on intercepting several large quantities of smuggled drugs in Liverpool? Will the Minister assure us that constant vigilance at our ports will be maintained in an effort to control the evil of drug smuggling?
I echo the hon. Gentleman's congratulations to the Merseyside police and Customs and Excise. They have given an excellent example of co-operation in their recent successful operations. I can give the hon. Gentleman the assurance for which he asks.
Commissioner Of Police Of The Metropolis (Report)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what specific steps he proposes to take in the light of the report of the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis for the year 1979.
The report is an account of the policing of the Metropolis in 1979, and as such is not the occasion of specific action, but many of the matters on which the Commissioner touches are already the subject of discussion within this House and within my Department. The report is a valuable contribution to that discussion.
Will my right hon. Friend pay particular attention to the Commissioner's comments on the working of the Bail Act? Is it not extremely disturbing that almost one quarter of those arrested for robbery in London last year were on bail? Is not the repeated granting of bail to persistent and professional criminals demoralising for the police and dangerous for the public?
What about the 42 per cent. arrested who are not guilty?
It is a serious matter, and the House would be wise to pay attention to what the Commissioner has said. However, the Bail Act, which was passed by this House, clearly set out the considerations that the courts have to take into account before granting bail. They include the nature and seriousness of the alleged offence and the defendant's character background. The statutory framework affords ample opportunity for courts to withhold bail in appropriate cases. It must be a matter for the courts. If the House believes that the Bail Act is not working properly, we have a perfect right to re-examine it, although we passed that Act only recently.
Will the Home Secretary confirm that remand in custody is not preventive detention? Will he also confirm that a good many of the offences for which those people were on bail were fairly minor, such as theft and burglary, compared with, for instance, the robberies that they later committed? Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that in those circumstances it would be wholly wrong to draw conclusions from that narrow sample? When will the Home Office produce national statistics on the effects of the Bail Act?
We shall consider what the hon. Gentleman says. It is right to keep a sense of proportion. We should pay close attention to what the Commissioner says but also bear in mind the overall effects of the Bail Act.
Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the Metropolitan Police is still sadly under strength? Is there a possibility of introducing a pay differential in favour of the Metropolitan Police in order, in due course, to encourage its full establishment?
As my hon. Friend knows, throughout the country police re- cruiting has been extremely good over the past year—and that includes the Metropolitan Police—although it still has a considerable deficiency. Police pay is settled under the Edmund-Davies formula. It would be wrong to change that formula or change the position of the Metropolitan Police compared with other police forces, bearing in mind that most other police forces are virtually up to establishment.
As the Metropolitan Police district covers 92 constituencies and part of a constituency in Hertfordshire, and the Home Secretary is quite properly the police authority for the district, should we not have a debate on the report? Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that without that the report will merely end up in the Library, we shall say that the police are accountable to the House, and that is the last that we shall hear until the report is published the following year?
Nothing would give me greater pleasure than a debate on the actions of the Metropolitan Police and the Commissioner, which in the past year have been a remarkable success and a great credit to the country. Alas, debates are not a matter for me. I sometimes wish that they were.
Firearms Certificates (Fees)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects the review of the method of assessing firearm fees will be commenced and will be completed.
Preliminary work has already started, and I expect the review to be completed in the autumn.
As firearm certificate fees increased by 70 per cent. on 1 July, and in recent years there have been many startling increases, can my right hon. Friend assure the House that no further increases will be made until a restructured method of assessment is arrived at which puts the matter on a fairer basis?
In the considerable discussions that I had with my hon. Friend before the firearms fees were increased, I made it clear that we should have a review to see how matters could be improved for the future. I stand by that.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that law-abiding holders of legally registered firearms would be grateful if he would confirm that firearms used by criminals are a completely different matter? Will he accept that the proposed increase cannot be justified on any ground, including inflation? Will he reconsider the increase in the cost of firearms certificates?
I have undertaken to review the length of certificates and the possibility of putting firearms certificates and shotgun certificates together. I believe that that is reasonable. I shall not go into the arguments for raising fees, which we have already debated. I could give the right hon. Gentleman a more convincing answer if I could bring the Treasury in on my side.
Will my right hon. Friend acknowledge that shooting in the countryside is a natural pursuit, enjoyed by a wide range of the community? Does he agree that it is not solely a rich man's sport, and should, therefore, not be used as an excuse for revenue-raising?
Shooting in the countryside is certainly not being used as an excuse for revenue-raising. It will not surprise the House to hear that I fully endorse what my hon. Friend says.
Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that he might be greatly assisted in carrying out the review if a joint working party was set up consisting of Home Office and shooting sports interests?
As the hon. Gentleman knows, I had discussions with the shooting sports interests both on whether further legislation is necessary, which I decided against, and the increased fees for firearms certificates, on which we disagreed. I am always prepared to discuss such matters with shooting sports interests. I take such matters seriously.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects the first two inquiries of the investigation into the Bristol disturbances on 2 April namely (a) the inquiry by the chief inspector of constabulary into police methods and (b) the inquiry into social provision by the local authorities, to report.
We hope to be able to announce the results of the review of arrangements for handling spontaneous public disorder before the Summer Recess. The outcome of the current discussions on community relations in Bristol is, of course, primarily a matter for the local authorities and other bodies concerned, but I understand that there have been two meetings and that working groups have been set up on education and employment.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the slowness of the so-called three-pronged inquiry that the Home Secretary set up is causing great disappointment in Bristol? Will the hon. Gentleman confirm that the Select Committee was unable to spend sufficient time in Bristol, although perhaps that was not its fault? Does he accept that the Home Office should therefore reconsider the request of the local authorities and community relations organisations for an official inquiry into what happened in Bristol on 2 April?
I do not believe that the three-pronged approach is proceeding slowly. The Select Committee has paid its visit. The review of spontaneous public disorder has proceeded rapidly, and we are about to learn the results. Local authorities have set up working groups to deal with the crucial areas of education and employment. As the hon. Gentleman knows, I visited Bristol a few days ago, and am aware that the city council and others would still like a public inquiry. However, having talked to them, I believe that my right hon. Friend's decision to proceed in the way that he outlined in April is the most constructive approach
Does my hon. Friend agree that what happened in Bristol on that night is not greatly in question and that there would be nothing for an official inquiry to do except to investigate the underlying causes? There have been several reports on such matters and the Sub-Committee of the Select Committee is preparing another. Does not my hon. Friend think that the time has come, not to have more inquiries, but to take the necessary action?
I entirely agree with my hon. Friend's judgment in the matter.
Can the Minister tell us whether his statement is likely to include a definition of the Government's policy on the law of "sus", which large sections of the community, including one of our Select Committees, believe does a great deal to sour race relations in this country?
My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary made our view on "sus" clear in the debate that took place in the House a short time ago. The inquiry that has been set up by the Home Office, in conjunction with the Association of Police Officers, will look at the whole question of spontaneous public disorder, which is a slightly different matter.
In view of some past misunderstandings, will my hon. Friend confirm that the Sub-Committee of the Select Committee visited Bristol with the purpose of investigating racial disadvantage in that city and not the events leading up to the disturbance?
My hon. Friend, who is a member of the Sub-Committee, is right. We felt that the visit of the Sub-Committee could be of value in trying to get to grips with the broader questions of racial disadvantage in this country.
What further steps will the Government take to deal with racial disadvantage in order to avoid a repetition of the disturbances in other towns and cities? Will he consider introducing measures similar to the previous Government's Local Government Grants (Ethnic Groups) Bill, which was aimed specifically at tackling racial disadvantage?
I cannot make a statement on the whole of the Government's policies towards race relations in answer to this question. As the hon. Lady knows, we have been looking carefully at whether section 11 of the Local Government Act 1966 needs to be replaced by new legislation or whether we can revise the administrative criteria. We hope to make an announcement on that matter shortly.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, to improve the revenue of the British Broadcasting Corporation, he will bring for- ward proposals to enable Radio 1 to become a national commercial station.
I endorse the principle that the BBC should continue to be financed through the revenue from the television licence fees, as was recommended by the Annan committee on the future of broadcasting. The allocation of resources between its different services is a matter for the BBC.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that the significant problem facing the BBC is a lack of buoyancy in its revenue? Does he agree that the character and content of Radio 1 are already attuned to a development such as I propose and that the BBC might also consider drawing out of local radio so that it is left to commercial interests and the national Radio 1 would bring much-needed revenue to the BBC?
Those are essentially matters for the BBC to decide. I must return to the fact that the Government gave a 36 per cent. increase in the licence fee over two years and the BBC is expected to live within that.
Will the right hon. Gentleman recall the words of the Annan committee, which described the BBC as arguably the most important cultural influence in the nation? Will he resist any attempts by his hon. Friends to destroy the important position of the BBC?
I note that point, and so will the governors of the BBC.
As enforcement and collection costs exceed £25 million per annum, does my right hon. Friend agree that there is a need for greater variety and flexibility in the approach to the collection of licence fees, such as, for example, the introduction of direct debiting?
We shall consider all such matters. They are important in relation to the licence fee.
In view of the increase in inflation which was not taken into account when the licence fee was put up, is the Home Secretary saying that the BBC will have to carry the inflation during the two-year period?
I remind the right hon. Gentleman that I had to take over the position that he left, with the BBC in debit. I gave the highest-ever increase in the licence fee. It is only fair to point that out. The BBC, like every other organisation in this country, has to look at its costs at a time of considerable economic stringency.
Tobacco Sales (Young Persons)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prosecutions were brought in 1979 against shopkeepers for selling cigarettes or tobacco products to young persons under 16 years of age.
Information for 1979 is not yet available. In 1978, 11 persons were prosecuted for offences of selling tobacco to juveniles.
Is the Minister satisfied with that low figure of prosecutions, given that evidence suggests that smoking among those under 16 is widespread and that the law is being totally ignored? Given the number of deaths from smoking every year, will the hon. and learned Gentleman take action to see that the law is enforced?
It is a difficult law to enforce, for the simple reason that neither those who sell nor those who buy are likely to report the matter to the police. One could significantly increase the number of prosecutions only by a major diversion of police resources from other crimes.
While I accept the horror of this story, does my hon. and learned Friend accept that far more terrible is the easy access that young people of 16 and under have to other drugs? Is he satisfied with the steps that are being taken to stop that?
That is a wider, and possibly more serious, question. I do not think that one can be satisfied when young people have access to drugs to the extent that they do. Any practical suggestions for dealing with that will certainly receive sympathetic consideration.
Reverting to the Minister's original reply, may I ask whether he is aware that we have been told from January to July that nearly every report from 1979 is not available? Those reports were supposed to be due at the end of last year and it takes seven or eight months before we get them. Will the Minister try to get his Department to see that those people give us their reports within two or three months, and not seven or eight months?
I do not think that it is absolutely fantastic that we do not have the information for 1979 on all the offences that are committed and on the one that is the subject of the question. I do not think that we should be justified in diverting more resources in the public sector to getting reports out faster.
Park Royal Estate
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has had regarding the co-ordinated visits to the Bestway cash and carry and other premises in Park Royal Estate on 13 May by police and immigration officers.
We have received letters from the right hon. Member himself and the hon. Member for Brent, South (Mr. Pavitt) and from the Camden committee for community relations; and my right hon. Friend has, of course, received the delegation led by the right hon. Gentleman.
Will the Minister bear in mind that, whatever comes out of his right hon. Friend's consideration of the representations made by the deputation that I took to him recently, it is unacceptable in our society that there should be blanket raids involving the arrest of large numbers of innocent people in order to bring to justice those who are in breach of the law and that it is equally unacceptable that any system of passport control for identification purposes should be introduced into our society. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] It is the introduction of identity cards and it paves the way to a police State eventually.
My right hon. Friend made clear to the right hon. Gentleman that in carrying out such operations there is a need to strike the right balance between any possible damage to community relations and the need to enforce the law. May I make clear that no blanket raids have been carried out.
The Minister is wrong.
May I also make clear that there is no need for anybody to carry a passport with him. The only people who need worry about our immigration laws are those who are in breach of them.
How many of those apprehended during the raids were found to be here illegally?
The figures vary, but of 37 people taken to the police station in the Bestway raid, nine were found to be in breach of the law or charged with being so. At the Main Gas operation, more than 20 people were found to be in breach of the law or charged with being so.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware of the damage that was done to good race relations in my constituency as a result of the raid on the Main Gas factory in Edmonton?What advice does the Home Secretary propose to give to my innocent constituents about the sort of documents that they will have to carry in future if they wish to avoid the distressing experiences suffered by other innocent constituents of mine as a result of the raid on the Main Gas factory?
I do not think that the raid carried out in the hon. Gentleman's constituency can be criticised in the way that he has implied. On the other hand, my right hon. Friend has made clear that he is reviewing the way in which such operations are carried out.
Will my hon. Friend not agree that if all those people who were suspected of an offence had an identity card, they would be able to show the identity card as soon as the police saw them and subsequent arrests would be unnecessary?
It might be true, I suppose, that an identity card would serve that purpose. On the other hand, the introduction of identity cards into this country would represent a major step.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of certain parts of the hon. Gentleman's reply, when he misrepresented to the House that there was no blanket raid, I shall seek leave to raise the matter on the Adjournment.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce legislation to set up a body, independent of the broadcasting authorities, permanently to review the application of the standards relating to the broadcasting of obscene, indecent and blasphemous material.
We do not plan to do so.
I thank my hon. and learned Friend for that disappointing reply. Bearing in mind the increasing incidence of broadcasts by the IBA that contravene the law on standards and by the BBC that contravene the agreement on standards, and bearing in mind the fact that neither organisation seems to be willing to do anything about it, what advice can my hon. and learned Friend give the House to see that the law and the agreement are enforced?
If there is a suggestion that there has been a breach of the law, it is by no means impossible for those who take that view to consider taking action to enforce the law. On standards generally, I think that to have a body, after the event, monitoring and commenting on a matter of subjective opinion, such as that raised in this question, would be very difficult and not consistent with our present operation of broadcasting.
Can I congratulate the Minister on refusing to set himself up as a sort of Mrs. Grundyite censorial body in these matters? Will he stick to his policies and take no notice of the rather dreadful people behind him?
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for what he says but I do not think that my hon. Friend was inviting me to set myself up as that body.
British Broadcasting Corporation
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will hold further discussions with the British Broadcasting Corporation regarding its budget.
I have no immediate plans to do so, but my officials remain in close touch with those of the BBC about its finances.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is widespread local support for such BBC local radio stations as Leicester and Nottingham and that even if there have to be cuts in the BBC budget, as is understood, constituents hope that the BBC will show a proper commitment towards local radio?
That must be a matter for the governors of the BBC. I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his point about the BBC finances which must be clearly understood both in this House and throughout the BBC.
Does the Secretary of State not agree that a revitalised BBC local radio service running for 24 hours a day could compete adequately with local commercial radio and that money saved by the BBC could be diverted to saving the orchestras if BBC Radio 1 was abolished and the "needle time" used to revitalise local BBC radio?
I have to be careful to stick to my position and to say that these must be matters for the governors of the BBC to decide.
Wormwood Scrubs Prison
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is satisfied with the educational facilities available in Wormwood Scrubs prison.
No, Sir. Severe staff shortages have meant that sufficient uniformed staff have not been available to escort prisoners to and from classes and as a result cell-based study has had to be substituted.
I am glad that the Minister accepts there is a problem. Would he accept that inadequate provision of education, along with problems about visiting and privileges, creates tensions in our prisons? If he cannot take action within existing resources, why does he not accept the recommendations of the recent all-party report and introduce a conditional release scheme that would get the number of prisoners down and enable existing resources to be spread more widely and fairly?
I am not sure that the hon. Gentleman's suggestion would have the effect that he desires. I accept that there is a problem about education in Wormwood Scrubs.
Bearing in mind that the answer and the supplementary question were widened to include other facets of the prison service, will the Minister say when time will be provided by the Government to debate the May report on the prison service in total?
I hope that it will be soon.
Is the hon. and learned Member aware that I visited the Scrubs this morning? Is it not plain that the report of the regional director into the incidents of 31 August last year could be published without reference to the events that immediately followed the introduction of the mufti squad and thereby remove it from any police proceedings that are going on? Is it not possible to present that section of the report to the House in order to make a judgment about what happened?
That ranges well beyond the problem of education in Wormwood Scrubs and different considerations arise.
Prime Minister (Engagements)
asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 3 July.
This morning I presided at a meeting of the Cabinet and had further meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. Later today, I shall leave for a visit to Scotland, and this evening I shall attend a reception given by Her Majesty the Queen at Holyroodhouse to mark the eightieth birthday of the Queen Mother.
Will my right hon. Friend take time today to re-emphasise strongly the recent statement of her Industry Secretary, that as well as pricing themselves out of jobs workers can also price themselves into jobs? Will she congratulate those East Midlands busmen who have sacrificed their overtime pay to preserve the jobs of 50 of their colleagues? Will she agree that if more followed the example of those members of the Transport and General Workers Union, as well as the advice of her right hon. Friend, our economic problems would be more quickly solved?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I agree that the efforts of those East Midlands bus crews were highly commendable and indicated that, in considering their own pay, they were considering its effect, or possible effect, on the unemployment of others. There is not the slightest shadow of doubt that there is a direct relationship between pay increases that go outside money supply and increasing unemployment. I hope that their example will be followed further. It shows, once again, the wisdom of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry.
Is the Prime Minister aware that on Tuesday the Chief Secretary to the Treasury told the House that, broadly speaking, pay increases over the last 12 months had had no impact on inflation? Does she agree with her Chief Secretary?
I thought that my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary was in his usual scintillating form. If one reads the speech as a whole, every single part of it can very well be substantiated. The underlying reason for increases in inflation is the money supply in the longer run. In the short run, there are particular reasons for the increase in the retail price index, which is slightly different.
Will my hon. Friend find time, if possible today, to study the latest CBI survey which shows that manufacturers expect to put up their prices by less than at any time during the last seven years? Can she pass a copy to the Leader of the Opposition just in case he might manage to read it?
I did, indeed, notice that report in the survey. It augurs well for a falling rate of inflation in the coming months. I noted that it was supported, in some ways, by an article in the Daily Mirror two days ago that pointed out that the cost-plus era was over, and a very good thing too.
In view of the fact that we all read and listen to the Chief Secretary with reverential attention, can the Prime Minister say clearly whether increases in wages are a cause of inflation or not?
Over a period—[Laughter.] Over a period, the cause of increased inflation is increase in the money supply. Within the money supply, there will be a different distribution both between the public sector and the private sector. Within those sectors, there will be increases in pay within the general money supply well beyond what is warranted and those may come through to an increase in particular products in the RPI. That will not necessarily affect the general price level, which is the inflation level.
May I thank the Prime Minister for that reply and say that I do not understand a word of it?
In that case I must remark, in passing, that I wonder who wrote the right hon. Gentleman's speeches when he was in power.
Mr. Ivor Stanbrook.
Order. If the hon. Member does not mind, I should like to hear the Leader of the Opposition.
I do not answer questions here, of course—I only ask them. Is the right hon. Lady aware that not only did I write my own speeches but that they were understood by everybody who heard them?
Then the right hon. Gentleman was fortunate in having intelligent listeners.
Will my right hon. Friend find time this afternoon to look again at the wording of clause 17 of the Employment Bill? Is she aware of the growing volume of criticism about the wording of the clause, which is echoed by the president of the Law Society and the leader of the Bar? In those circumstances, what more do the Government require to decide to examine the clause again and to give the House an opportunity to review the wording of the clause?
I am aware of the clause. I agree that it is somewhat complex because it is based on immunities. The law on trade unions has been based on immunities for a long time. The Bill is a first step. It is not a last step.
Is the Prime Minister aware that we are not interested in the scintillating form of the Chief Secretary but in what he says? Does she agree with the specific statement that he made on Tuesday that rising wages in the last 12 months made absolutely no contribution to the rise in inflation?
With respect, the Chief Secretary did not precisely say that. My right hon. Friend was dealing with the cause of the underlying increase in inflation and some of the short-term causes. If one reads the whole of his speech one will agree that it is not only scintillating but brilliant in content.
Unemployed (Ethnic Minorities)
asked the Prime Minister what steps she is taking to deal with the problem of unemployment for young blacks.
We have agreed to the proposals from the Manpower Services Commission to expand the youth opportunities programme by 25 per cent. to over 250,000 places in 1980–81. This expansion has enabled the MSC to renew its undertakings to all unemployed school leavers and all the long-term young unemployed, whether black or white.
Does the Prime Minister accept that the rate of unemployment for young blacks is at least twice, and possibly three or four times, as high as that of young whites and that they often work in low-paid jobs and do not appear to be pricing themselves into the market, as is the current silly theory? Therefore, is it not time that the Prime Minister did something effective to ensure that young blacks are not discriminated against in employment?
It is right for the youth opportunities programme to apply to all young people, irrespective of colour. In areas with large ethnic minorities some of the schemes under the large youth opportunities programme are arranged and run by the minorities. That seems to be right.
In the light of recent exchanges, will my right hon. Friend take time today to consult again the speech by the Leader of the Opposition—
Order. Does the hon. Gentleman realise that we are considering unemployment among young blacks? An open question is due to be asked shortly.
Could the Government give a lead, in relation to discrimination against blacks by insisting that the Taivstock Institute's recommendation about discrimination in the Civil Service is implemented by the Civil Service?
I am sure that the Civil Service implements everything which it has to implement and which it is advisable to implement. If the hon. Gentleman has a particular case in mind, perhaps he will let us know about it.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that the unemployment problems encountered by young blacks are not eased by inflammatory statements from some bodies urging members of the minority communities to withhold co-operation?
I entirely agree. It does no one any good to suggest that co-operation with the police should be withheld. I said on Tuesday—and I say it again—that I believe that the vast majority of the coloured community believe firmly in upholding the law and will support the police wholly in their task.
Prime Minister (Engagements)
asked the Prime Minister what are her official engagements for 3 July.
I refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave some time ago.
In regard to the Prime Minister's impending visit to Scotland, does she recognise that the most important matter there is not the eightieth birthday of anybody—[HON. MEMBERS: "Cheap."]—but the escalating unemployment problem? Will she give an assurance that she will pay great attention to the letter that I have sent to her about a firm in my constituency which not only has gone into liquidation but whose directors have disappeared into thin air, leaving at least £40,000 of unpaid wages and holiday pay owing to the people who have been thrown out of their jobs?
If the hon. Gentleman has a particular case which causes him great concern, of course I or my right hon. Friends will give it full and proper attention. I agree that the unemployment rate in Scotland is somewhat higher than in England. [HON. MEMBERS: "Somewhat?"] It is somewhat higher than it is in England. However, the amount of money which goes per head into Scotland, rightly, is greater than that which goes into England, by a considerable amount.
Mr. Ray Whitney.
I am most grateful, Mr. Speaker—
The hon. Gentleman has been called twice.
Order. The hon. Gentleman was not allowed by me to ask his earlier question and that is why I have called him.
In the light of exchanges five minutes ago, will my right hon. Friend find time today to consult yet again a speech delivered to the Labour Party conference in 1976—although I am not sure whether it was written by the right hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) or his son-in-law? Is my right hon. Friend aware that in that speech the right hon. Gentleman stated that the reason for the steady rise in unemployment was that we had continued to pay ourselves more than the value of the goods that we produced
I remember that speech well because it pointed out that we could not spend our way out of inflation and that if we tried to it would lead to higher unemployment.
Since the Secretary of State for Industry is obsessed with the need for workers to take wage cuts and since the Chief Secretary seems to think that that has no impact on inflation, who is right?
On this side we are all right.
asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 3 July.
I refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave earlier.
Will the Prime Minister find time today to check up on the trawler which she launched in the Lowestoft constituency two years ago and which is now up for sale, along with most of the rest of the British fishing fleet? Will she take serious account of the representations made to her right hon. Friend this morning?
There was a meeting, as the hon. Gentleman knows, with my right hon. Friend this morning and I am sure that he will take fully into account the representations that were made and will press ahead as far and as soon as he can in seeking agreement on a common fisheries policy which will be suitable for the fishermen of this country.
Does my right hon. Friend agree that a great number of the unemployed simply cannot afford to work because of our chaotic taxation and welfare system? May I ask my right hon. Friend if she recalls the work done by the Centre for Policy Studies which published realistic figures of those who wanted to work? What has happened to those figures? Why are they no longer published? I believe that they would prove that less than half of the unemployed want to work at the present time.
I know very well the excellent work which my hon. Friend has done on this subject and I agree with him that one of the problems is that there is not a sufficient gap between what one can earn at the bottom end of the wage scale and the amount which can be taken out in benefits which are, sometimes, not liable to tax by those people who are not in work. I agree that we have not yet sorted out that problem, but I ask my hon. Friend to give us some credit for the fact that we are trying to do that and that within two years we shall bring unemployment and sickness benefit into taxation. In so far as they are added to other income, that will go some way towards dealing with the problem.
Business Of The House
May I ask the Leader of the House to state the business for next week?
The business for next week will be as follows:MONDAY 7 JULY—Consideration of Private Members' motions until 7 o'clock. Afterwards, completion of the Report stage of the Civil Aviation Bill. TUESDAY 8 JULY—Progress on remaining stages of the Local Government, Planning and Land (No. 2) Bill. Motions on the Northern Ireland orders on roads and private streets. WEDNESDAY 9 JULY—Debate on the White Paper on the government of Northern Ireland: proposals for further discussion, Cmnd. 7950. Motion on the Northern Ireland (Interim Period Extension) Order. THURSDAY 10 JULY—Supply [25th Allotted Day]: Debate on an Opposition motion on the persistent decline in manufacturing industry. FRIDAY 11 JULY—Debate on information technology, on a motion for the Adjournment of the House. MONDAY 14 JULY—Supply [26th Allotted Day]: A debate on the persistent rise in unemployment, on an Opposition motion.
With regard to Wednesday's business, it is the hope of the Opposition that there will be a general discussion on these matters though it is not the intention of the Opposition to divide the House on them at this stage.The right hon. Gentleman and the House will note that the two matters to be debated on Thursday and the following Monday are related. There is a decline in manufacturing industry and there is a persistent rise in unemployment. In the days at our disposal between now and the end of the Session we shall continue to call attention to these problems. May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in the light of the disastrous impact of redundancies, unemployment and closures notified day by day to hon. Members on both sides of the House by their constituents, the Government are willing to give an extra day next week for a debate on unemployment and what is happening to the country as a result of continual closures? That will give an opportunity to all hon. Members who are affected to express the views of their constituents.
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for telling me about the intention of the Opposition on Wednesday. That is, of course, wholly appropriate, since it would not be suitable to divide the House on a discussion document that is not putting forward definitive Government proposals to the House.As for the question of an extra day for a debate on unemployment, I think that the use of the Opposition's Supply day should be adequate for them to raise the points that they wish to have discussed. Of course, we very much regret the present high level of unemployment, but we feel that we must go through this period of difficulty so that the economy can be put on a lasting and sound basis for the future.
While I am not sure that the advice that I give to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is heeded as much as it should be, I am grateful to the Government for reducing the minimum lending rate today. Will my right hon. Friend arrange an early debate on the problems of smaller businesses, so that those problems—created as much by the previous Government as by high interest rates—can be displayed to the Government? That will mean that small businesses, which are the seed corn of our future, will feel that their problems are being adequately debated in the House.
In his Budget Statement my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer produced a number of measures offering material help to small businesses. Those measures have been widely welcomed and, therefore, I do not think that a further debate on the subject is necessary.I do not underestimate the weight of the advice given by my hon. Friend in respect to the reduction in the minimum lending rate, but I understand that other factors came into operation in reaching that welcome decision.
Will the right hon. Gentleman accept the argument of the Leader of the Opposition for a much longer period of debate on the increasing incidence of unemployment throughout the kingdom? Very much as a secondary matter, will he consider—because of the increasing interest in arts affairs—extending the 10 minutes a month to 15 minutes a month for questions on that subject?
I do not think that I can add to what I have already said on the question of a debate on unemployment. I would, of course, welcome a longer period for questions on the arts, and we can certainly look at that again in the next Session of Parliament. I would point out to the hon. Gentleman that that separate period for arts questions is the first of its kind that we have had in the House.
In view of the recent statements about relations between the police and the immigrant community, would it be possible to have a debate on immigration in the near future, particularly as this very important subject is seldom debated in the House?
I cannot promise an early debate on that subject, though there will no doubt be an opportunity at a later stage.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the document published by the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation this week entitled "A new deal for Steel"? In view of the desperate situation in which the steel industry finds itself will the right hon. Gentleman say whether we can have a debate on that situation during the course of the next few weeks, and in any case before the House rises for the Summer Recess?
I have seen the document to which the hon. Gentleman refers but I am afraid that I cannot promise an early debate. It was an interesting document, but I wish that a clearer connection had been made in it between the price of products and wages paid.
I wonder whether my right hon. Friend has anything to tell the House in relation to statements made by Members of the House under the cloak of privilege? Alternatively, does he have a statement to make about arranging a debate about the statement that was made by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker), which has not been retracted—[Interruption.] Will there be an opportunity for the House to discuss this matter, which has caused a good deal of unease on both sides of the House?
I certainly share the concern of my hon. Friend about this matter. I suggest, however, that we wait upon events.
Order, I should tell the House that as well as an application under Standing Order No. 9 there is a personal statement to be made later in the afternoon. I hope that hon. Gentlemen will bear that in mind and try to be brief with questions.
Has the Leader of the House had an opportunity to see early-day motion 726, standing in my name and that of 120 other hon. Members of all parties, relating to the need for the Ministry of Defence to publish a list of the countries invited to the British Arms Equipment Exhibition in Aldershot?[That this House Calls upon Her Majesty's Government to state which countries have been invited to the British Army Equipment Exhibition front 24 to 27 June, and to describe what steps are being taken to prevent the export of arms technology from contributing to the violation of human rights in countries such as Uruguay, Argentina, Libya, Zaire, Turkey, South Korea and Indonesia, where such practices are widely attested.] Does the right hon. Gentleman not agree that the Ministry of Defence should make an early statement?
I understand that the Government's position on that point and the point raised in the motion has already been stated in reply to questions in this House and in correspondence. The list of countries invited to exhibitions has traditionally been treated as confidential by successive Administrations. The Gov- ernment's policy on exports to the countries named is that we continue to withhold approval for the supply of equipment which we reason to believe might be used against the civilian population.
In view of the £42½ million written answer from the Northern Ireland Office on Tuesday, which must rank as about the most expensive written answer in our history, would it be in order to debate the present and future of Harland and Wolff on any of the Northern Ireland business before the House next week, and, if so, which? If not, could we have a very early debate on this matter?
It is not my function, Mr. Speaker, to rule on what is in order in a debate. My hon. Friend has a reputation for ingenuity, and I am sure that he will be able to raise any matter that he wishes in the Northern Ireland debates while remaining within the rules or order.
In view of the harsh inhumane treatment meted out to detainees in many parts of the world, will the right hon. Gentleman arrange for his right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal to make a statement next week on the Government's attitude towards the proposed international convention on torture?
I shall certainly draw that matter to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal when he returns from Korea.
Will the Leader of the House accept that the textile industry in the West Riding and Lancashire is in a very difficult situation? His answer last week to a request for a day's debate was not satisfactory, because a general debate does not enable a Minister to be made fully accountable by giving detailed answers to account for the Government's apparent indifference. The level of unemployment in the textile industry is increasing. In the first four months of this year there was a deficit of £200 million in textile goods. As a matter of urgency, for the third biggest employer in industrial manufacturing—clothing and textiles combined—may we have an early debate?
I understand the hon. Gentleman's concern about the future of the textile industry, but we have had four debates recently on regional matters, one of which, certainly, could cover the point that the hon. Gentleman raised. Far from being indifferent to the textile industry, the Government have declared their intention not only of upholding the present multi-fibre arrangement but of seeing that when that expires in 1981 it is replaced by adequate measures to protect the industry.
May I ask my right hon. Friend when he himself wants to break for the Summer Recess, so that we may know when we shall break for it?—or shall we be told at the last minute?
My hopes are that we shall rise some time in August. On this occasion my hopes are matched by my expectations.
It the right hon. Gentleman aware that the present unemployment situation bears exceptionally heavily on handicapped people? Will he, therefore, allow a debate on the sort of situation that exists in Leicester where the careers service for handicapped people is being cut to the bone and one of the only two careers officers dealing especially with them is being sacked?
I understand the importance of the point that the hon. and learned Gentleman raises. I cannot promise an early debate. On the situation in Leicestershire, I understand that the policy of the county council there is to concentrate on preserving the pupil-teacher ratio, and that is an aim of which I am sure the hon. and learned Gentleman will approve.
Three major reports on the prison service have been published recently—the May committee report, the White Paper response to the report of the Expenditure Committee, and the report of the parliamentary all-party penal affairs group, "Too Many Prisoners". Will the Leader of the House confirm that there will be an early opportunity to debate these, and that that debate will not take place on a Friday?
I certainly confirm that there will be an early debate on this subject. I am most anxious to fit it in before we rise for the recess. I cannot give an undertaking that it will not be on a Friday. After all, Friday is a Government day now and, while I try to avoid having important debates on Fridays if I can, I cannot possibly rule out Friday because it might mean ruling out the debate.
Does the Leader of the House remember that during business questions last week he gave an undertaking that he would discuss with his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland the possibility of making a very early statement on the future of teacher training colleges? Has the Leader of the House had that discussion? If so, what has been the outcome?
Yes I have raised the matter with my right hon. Friend. He is still considering it.
As a matter of fairness, will the Leader of the House give consideration to the possibility of a debate on the shabby and unfair treatment of the nationalised industries by the present Government?
That is an interesting point. I deny the premise of the hon. Gentleman's question and, therefore, his conclusion that flows from it.
Will the Leader of the House give some attention to the desire on both sides of the House for an early debate on the position of British exporting industries? This matter is much broader than merely textiles, engineering and chemicals. As many of us know, in all of the constituencies in which the brass of this country is made, industies that are good exporters in normal times are being cut down, and they cannot compete. We desperately need a debate on what the Government will do about our exporting industries.
I am extremely interested in that question, as I represent a constituency that contains some of our major exporting industries. However, the matter that the hon. Gentleman raises is relevant to many of our debates, and I cannot promise a special discussion on it.
Is the Leader of the House aware that Ministers have tabled over 80 amendments to the Youth and Community Bill, which is due to have its Report stage tomorrow? Are these to enable the very few hon. Members who disagree with the Bill to talk at length, or do they represent a genuine attempt to expedite and improve the Bill? If it is the latter, will the right hon. Gentleman ask his hon. Friends not to delay the Bill tomorrow? If it goes beyond tomorrow will he give time one night next week to enable the Bill to be completed?
Just as they did for abortion.
If my hon. Friends have tabled amendments to that Bill, it is obviously with the intention of improving it. There is no question about that. I hope that there will be a full debate on Friday, but I cannot promise time for that Bill. However, there is a chance for a further debate on the subject on Monday.
Order. I propose to call those hon. Members who have been rising in their places. Mr. Eric Heffer. [Laughter.]
Order. I very rarely miss the hon. Member for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), but has he not been rising?
As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, I was beginning to think that it was doing my health a great deal of good for me to bounce up and down like a yo-yo, but I am not complaining.Will the Leader of the House reconsider his reply to my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition in relation to unemployment? Is the Leader of the House aware that Merseyside has 98,000 people unemployed out of a population of less than 1½ million? Is he aware that we are now faced with the problem of Cammell Laird not getting possible orders for ships? If the Cammell Laird shipyard went out of business it would mean utter destruction for Birkenhead and the people of Merseyside. Is it not time that we had a serious discussion about areas such as Merseyside, in which we shall have no industry, no employment, and poverty for our people unless something is done about the situation?
I am aware of the special position in Merseyside. The whole country is going through a crisis in employment, caused by a world recession. By the assistance that the Government are giving to special areas they are showing that they are concerned about the matter. We hope that it will be a temporary phase and that unemployment will be reduced as the Government's policies come into operation.
Last week the right hon. and learned Member for Hertfordshire, East (Sir D. Walker-Smith) made a suggestion, which was repeated today by the hon. Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr), relating to statements made in this House under privilege and their possible consideration by the Committee of Privileges. Does the Leader of the House realise that if we are to enter into a system of that kind it needs to be even-handed between both sides of the House? Is he aware that some hon. Members regard previous statements that certain people have sympathy with the IRA—statements that have been unwithdrawn for a full year since they were made in the House—as far more serious allegations than any others that could possibly be made?
The hon. Gentleman is being less than his normal helpful self. It is not in order to debate personal statements after they have been made. It is better to avoid trying to debate them before they are made.
On the question of unemployment in Merseyside, I am sure that it was an oversight by the Leader of the House that he did not announce a date for a debate on that matter. Does he realise that unemployment in Merseyside among active males is nearly 25 per cent.? Is he aware that, following statements by the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Industry, the people of Merseyside realise that unemployment is now not a consequence of the Government's economic policies but one of their main tools? They are using unemployment in lieu of an incomes policy to persuade people to accept cuts in wages.
I do not think that that is so. Unfortunately, unemployment is rising throughout the industrial world, and the unemployment in Britain is part of that wider problem. There will be an opportunity for the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends to raise that matter in the Supply day debate on Monday.
Will the Leader of the House find time next week for the House to be told why the wets in the Cabinet have refused to do anything to challenge the policies that are causing so much harm and unemployment in Britain at the present time? Should it not be expected that those members of the Cabinet who realise the harm being done by the monetarists should stand up and fight?
I do not understand to what the hon. Gentleman is referring. The Cabinet is entirely united in supporting the Government's policies. My position remains neither wet nor dry, but that of the extreme centre.
I hope that I can help the Leader of the House to be little more constructive on this matter. Is he aware that in the recent debate on the Second Reading of the Coal Industry Bill the spokesman who replied for the Government said that deficit financing would be introduced by 1983, but that that was a flexible date? Because the Venice summit has, since then, suggested that coal production should be doubled, and because the National Union of Mineworkers is meeting next week for its conference in Eastbourne, is it not a sensible idea that a statement should be made by the Secretary of State for Energy, either in Committee or in the House, to the effect that the clause that refers to removing grants will be taken out of the Bill, so that we can ensure that more coal is produced in Britain in line with the Venice declaration?
If that matter is relevant to the Committee stage of the Bill it can be raised there. If that is so, it would not be in order to discuss it on the Floor of the House.
Select Committee On European Legislation
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wish to call attention to a 100 per cent. factual error in the 36th report from the Select Com- mittee on European legislation. The refund is £206 million, not £102 million, as stated. I did not want anyone to be misled by that error.
Youth And Community Bill
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In reply to my question on the Youth and Community Bill, the Leader of the House said that there would be time to debate the subject on Monday. He was referring to the fact that the sponsor of the Bill, the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Skeet), has drawn time to debate a motion on Monday. Is there anything in the rules of the House to prevent the hon. Member for Bedford from having a further debate on his Bill, provided the usual channels agree?
The hon. Gentleman will know, as I know, that motions take precedence on Monday, and the motion may well run the full time.
Industrial Disputes (Secondary Blacking)
I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 9, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,
The specific issue is the provisions of clause 17 covering secondary blacking or boycotting. It is a vitally important matter for the future of industrial relations in Britain—not only to achieve industrial peace, but to achieve reasonable fairness, and to enhance investment and profitability in the manufacturing base of our economy. The matter is urgent because it appears that amendments to the clause may not be made in another place. That means that the House will have no further opportunity to debate the subject before it becomes law—"the need of this House to express its views on secondary blacking and boycotting before a final decision is taken in another place on the provisions of clause 17 of the Employment Bill."
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker—
Order. Technically, the hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. Browne) is on a point of order. I think that he is on his last sentence.
The Government presented this subject to the House at the very last minute in a clause that is so complex that few right hon. and hon. Members fully understood its implications. The right hon. Members for Doncaster (Mr. Walker) and Chesterfield (Mr. Varley) confirmed that in their remarks, on Report, I think that many hon. Members feel hoodwinked, and that the vital clause passed the House without the due consideration that it deserved—
Order. I am being very patient, but the hon. Gentleman's speech is getting near an abuse of the Standing Order. I hope that he will now come to a conclusion, and I shall then give him my conclusion.
My conclusion is that the clause received insufficient debate in the House. My appeal through you, Mr. Speaker, is that it should be returned to the House for discussion.
The hon. Member for Winchester (Mr. Browne) gave me notice this morning before 12 o'clock that he would seek leave to move the Adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he thinks should have urgent consideration, namely,
In informing the hon. Gentleman that I cannot submit his application to the House, I wish to say to the whole House that this sort of application could occur on every measure that passes through the House. I hope that, in general, hon. Members will note that Standing Order No. 9 is for very special occasions."the need of this House to express its views on secondary blacking and boycotting before a final decision is taken in another place on the provisions of clause 17 of the Employment Bill."
Before I call the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) to make a personal statement, I remind the House that personal statements are not followed by questions or debate and are heard without interruption.
Mr. Speaker, during the course of the debate on Lords amendments to the Industry Bill on Wednesday 18 June, I made allegations with respect to the purchasing policy of Rolls-Royce regarding certain machine tools. In that speech, I made specific reference to allegations, which I repeated, in respect of a Rolls-Royce employee, Mr. Frank Turner.I repeated the allegations on the basis of information supplied in good faith. On the basis of all the information supplied, I considered that the whole issue should be raised here in the public interest. It is now clear that neither those who supplied the information nor myself are in any position to substantiate the allegations in respect of Mr Turner, and I hereby withdraw without qualification the references which I made to him in columns 1684 and 1685 of Hansard for 18 June. I offer my sincere apologies to Mr. Turner, his family, his close colleagues and the House.
Orders Of The Day
Local Government, Planning And Land (No 2) Bill
As amended (in the Standing Committees), considered.