Does the Leader of the House have a Business Statement to make?
As the House is aware, the debate on the Address and reply to the Gracious Speech will be brought to a conclusion on Wednesday 10 November.On Thursday 11 November there will be a debate on the Government's proposals for revision of the immigration rules, Cmnd. 8683. On Friday 12 November there will be a debate on developments in the European Community, January to June 1982 Cmnd. 8669.
I was given to understand a short time ago that a written answer is to be given by the Department of Transport on the Government's intentions on lorry weights. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman is aware that the issue has been debated frequently in the House. When it was last debated the House expressed its view in opposition to what was being suggested. It would be shocking if the Government attempted to deal with the matter by means of a written reply and not by the Secretary of State for Transport making a statement, which will enable us to cross-examine him.I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will take steps to stop the written reply. I hope also that he will ensure that a statement is made by the Secretary of State for Transport tomorrow. Whether or not the written answer has been given, the right hon. Gentleman should appear before the House to answer questions. It was understood that the issue should be dealt with in that way. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will deal with the matter satisfactorily. Will there be an opportunity for us to vote separately on the various aspects of the immigration document, which covers a wide range of subjects and which is to be debated on Thursday? It will not be sufficient to have one vote on the whole paper. The Opposition will be tabling a reasoned amendment. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will agree to that method of proceeding. The EEC half-yearly report is to be debated on Friday. I understand that it will be the first debate under the new procedures, which means that the report will be debated in Government time. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not take that as a precedent for having the report debated on a Friday. We believe that it should be debated on another day. I draw to the right hon. Gentleman's attention early-day motion 4 on mandatory education awards that has been tabled in my name and in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock) and others. I urge the right hon. Gentleman to take note of our representations that there must be a debate on the subject at an early stage. He gave a fairly forthcoming reply when I put the matter to him a week or two ago and I hope that he will confirm that reply now.[That the Education (Mandatory Awards) Regulations 1982 (S.I., 1982, No. 954), dated 12th July 1982, a copy of which was laid before this House on 16th July in the last Session of Parliament, be revoked.] Finally, has the right hon. Gentleman anything to say about when the Chancellor of the Exchequer intends to make a statement next week? Will he be making a statement on Monday prior to the discussion that will take place later in the week?
The answer that has been given today on lorry weights will not conclude the debate. Doubtless it will be just another stage in a debate in which the House will take—[Horn. MEMBERS: "Oh".] Perhaps I may be allowed to conclude my sentence. It will be a debate in which the House will have a final, conclusive say. However, I shall draw the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport to the right hon. Gentleman's remarks. I realise that they are made with considerable force and authority.Secondly, the immigration rules debate on Thursday will proceed on a take note motion. Thirdly, the European Community debate, which it is now proposed should take place on Friday, is, as the right hon. Gentleman has said, under a new procedure. It is not the Government's intention that having that debate on a Friday should be a precedent. That is something to consider as we have further experience of the new rules. The right hon. Gentleman's fourth question was on education awards. I stand by the statement that I made to the House at the conclusion of the preceding Session, which was that we hoped that the House would have the chance to debate and vote on that topic. Therefore, I believe that I can meet the right hon. Gentleman's anxieties on that point. Finally, it will be the intention of my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make a statement to the House on Monday on the occasion of the autumn statement, which will be published that day in response to representations from the Treasury and Civil Service Committee.
I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his approach on several of the questions that I raised. I dare say that the right hon. Gentleman was as little aware of the manner in which lorry weights were being dealt with as I was until recently. It is not merely a matter of the Department of Transport's convenience. Whatever has been attempted—whether or not an attempt has been made to deal with the matter through a written answer—I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will understand what we are asking for. Will he please make sure that the Secretary of State for Transport makes a statement on such a controversial matter and does not seek to hide behind a written answer?
This is a topic of such moment that any Minister would be foolish to try to hide behind the pretext of a written answer. I have taken note of the right hon. Gentleman's points and will make representations.
I welcome the words that the Leader of the House has just used. I hope that he will press that message home to the Department of Transport, which seems to be doing precisely what he has described. Will the right hon. Gentleman accept my thanks in that he seems willing to have a debate on the Floor of the House on the important education grants issue, on which the Government were defeated in Committee and on which the right hon. Gentleman is being pressed by three parties to have a debate? Will the right hon. Gentleman also give sympathetic consideration to the need for a debate on the prayer on police pensions—an issue that has aroused a great deal of concern among police officers?
I take note of the three points raised by the hon. Gentleman.
My right hon. Friend is aware that the Government have highlighted the importance of fair competition for British industry in recent times. Bearing in mind the grotesque tariff barriers that have been put up by many countries against our goods and the minimum tariff barriers put up by this country against goods coming from those countries, will my right hon. Friend state when there will be a full debate on trading practices in the world so that we can ensure that employment in this country improves and that there are fair conditions in which British industry can operate against its competitors?
I take note of the point raised by my hon. Friend. Trading practices and the whole range of problems implicit in our international trade are at the heart of foreign affairs, which are to be debated this afternoon.
Has the attention of the Leader of the House been drawn to the series of articles that have been published by the Daily Mirror in its northern editions, suggesting that the Greater Manchester area and the north-west region generally are fast becoming an industrial wasteland? Will the Leader of the House give us an assurance that in the not too distant future there will be a debate on the North-West and the Greater Manchester area?
My attention had not been drawn to those Daily Mirror articles. I can only conclude that, none the less, the Daily Mirror was full of foresight because tomorrow we are to have a debate on urban affairs, when I am sure that those articles will be relevant.
If on 8 November the Danes do not agree to the common fisheries policy that has been agreed by the other nine member States, will my right hon. Friend find time, next week or the following week, to have a full debate on the impact of the common fisheries policy as agreed by the nine member States, because it will severely affect not only the offshore fishermen but the processing factories?
I shall draw the attention of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to the points that my hon. Friend has made. However, I confess that I see little likelihood of there being a full day's debate on that topic next week.
On the Order Paper today in the name of the Leader of the House is a motion concerning meetings of the Scottish Grand Committee in Edinburgh. I fully support that. Will the Leader of the House consider withdrawing the motion so that hon. Members can table amendments to it and so that we can debate what was an experiment last year? It would be useful if the House could debate the nature of that experiment.
The House has had the opportunity to assess the experiment over the past 12 months. What is now proposed is but a continuation of the experiment. I hope that the motion will be confirmed.
Order. I propose to call those hon. Members who have been seeking to catch my eye and then to move on.
As we have just heard that not only has the Community been selling, illicitly, subsidised butter to the Soviet Union but it has started to do so legally, and as we have also heard today that British grain is finding its way to France and Germany, where it gets a greater subsidy than it would get here, will my right hon. Friend ask my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to make a statement on the racket that is now the CAP?
I shall draw the attention of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to the points that my hon. Friend has made, but I am certain that my hon. Friend possesses such versatility that he will not require my right hon. Friend to make that statement when there is the prospect of a foreign affairs debate this afternoon.
May I press the Leader of the House a little more on the subject of lorry weights? Does he recall that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport withdrew a passage from his speech at the Tory Party conference when he was going to make an announcement on heavy lorry weights, on the basis that it would have been an affront to the House of Commons to make the statement at the Tory Party conference? Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that it is an affront to all quarters of the House to make the announcement by way of a written answer?
I would not wish to draw an analogy between the Tory Party conference and the House. However, I shall draw the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport to the views that have been expressed this afternoon.
Does the Leader of the House accept that it is intolerable to many of us that one of the few occasions per annum when the House can discuss the Common Market has been relegated to a Friday? There is a clear division in the House and the country, and a preponderant view among the population that we should not remain in the Common Market. Those matters should be discussed in the House on a day when we can vote, and not on a Friday. Such a position is intolerable.
I hope that the hon. Gentleman in no sense seeks to devalue the importance of Friday as a parliamentary day. I assure him that debates on that day can be every bit as lively as on any other day. As I said in reply to the Leader of the Opposition, to have a debate on that subject on a Friday is in no sense creating a precedent.
Does the Leader of the House accept that there is a continuing crisis in the steel industry? When will he make time for a debate, taking into consideration that there could be a review of the steel industry before long?
Economic and industrial affairs will dominate the last two days of the debate on the Address. I am certain that the points that the hon. Gentleman has in mind will be made with great relevance on those occasions.
Will the Chancellor of the Exchequer make a statement to the House about his appalling decision to support, within the International Monetary Fund, a massive loan to South Africa while that country is engaged in blatant aggression against a fellow member of the United Nations, Angola?
My right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be speaking in the debate next Wednesday. I imagine that will be the occasion when the hon. Gentleman will have the chance to raise that issue.
In view of the interest over the crisis in the steel industry and in view of the meeting which I understand the Secretary of State for Industry will be attending in France this afternoon, may I ask whether the Secretary of State for Industry will make a statement on the matter?
I shall certainly draw the attention of my hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry to that point. The hon. Gentleman may also reflect on the fact that my right hon. Friend will speak in the debate next Tuesday.
In view of the dispute that took place across the Dispatch Box yesterday between my right hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Ardwick (Mr. Kaufman) and the Prime Minister, when the Prime Minister demonstrated that she did not understand the implications of the £1 billion underspend that the Secretary of State for the Environment keeps referring to, may we have a statement to remove the confusion that is in the minds of hon. Members on both sides of the House and in the minds of local authorities who, in the past few hours, have received circulars that few of them understand?
There is not much that I can do to help the hon. Gentleman in his confusion, but my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment will speak in tomorrow's debate.
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am unclear about the question that I raised with the Leader of the House during Business Questions about the motion on the Scottish Grand Committee. Am I right in understanding that the matter is not debatable today or will there be an opportunity to debate it later?
Unless there is opposition to it, I shall put the Question immediately when we reach the subject.