Monday 6 February----Timetable motion on the Water Bill. Motions on the Adoption Allowance Schemes and Adoption Allowance Schemes (Scotland) Orders.
The Chairman of Ways and Means has named opposed private business for consideration at 7 o'clock
Tuesday 7 February----Opposition day (4th Allotted Day). Until about 7 o'clock there will be a debate entitled "Congestion and safety in transport". Afterwards, there will be a debate entitled "The Government's failure properly to support science and scientific research". Both debates will arise on Opposition motions. Motions on the Local Authority Social Services (Designation of Functions) Order and the Access to Personal Files (Social Services) Regulations and the Access to Personal Files (Housing) Regulations. Wednesday 8 February----Debate on a motion to take note of the White Paper "Broadcasting in the '90s : Competition, Choice and Quality" (Cm. 517). Details of the relevant Home Affairs Committee reports will be given in the Official Report.
Motion on the Precept Limitation (Prescribed Maximum) (Inner London Education Authority) Order.
Thursday 9 February----Debate on a motion to take note of "The Government's Expenditure Plans 1989-90 to 1991-92" (Cm. 601). Motion to take note of EC documents on credit institutions. Details will be given in the Official Report.
Friday 10 February----Private Members' Bills.
Monday 13 February----Until 7 o'clock, private Members' motions. There will be a debate on a Government motion on agriculture. [Debate on Wednesday 8 February : Relevant Home Affairs Committee reports. 3rd report, Session 1987-88 on the future of broadcasting (HC 262) ; 2nd special report, Session 1987-88 the Government's reply (HC 737)
Thursday 9 February 1989
Relevant European Community documents :
(a) 4794/88 Credit institutions : regulatory framework (b) 9224/86 Credit institutions : "Own Funds"
(c) 4339/88 Credit institutions : "Own Funds"
(d) 6033/88 Solvency ratio for credit institu-tions
Relevant Reports of European Legislation Committee
(a) HC 15-iii (1988-89), para 3
(b) HC 21-xxix (1985-86) para 11
(c) HC 43-xix (1987-88) para 10,
HC 43-xxxv (1987-88) para 8,
HC 43-xxxviii (1987-88) para 4 and
HC 15-ii (1988-89) para 2
(d) HC 43-xxxviii (1987-88) para 5.]
Column 428report into the King's Cross fire, as it is almost three months since the report was published? When can we expect a debate on the proposals to phase out student grants and replace them with loans to students? When can we expect the Government to respond to the report of the Select Committee on Education, Science and Arts on child care, a subject of particular importance to children and of almost equal importance to mothers in this country? Will he report on any progress that has been made in talks about establishing a Select Committee on Scottish Affairs?
When can we expect the Government to present a Bill to prevent the buying and selling of human organs? The Government promised in 1985 to consider special legislation to outlaw this repulsive trade, which was brought into this country by American private hospitals. So far, the Government have only issued letters and given the occasional slap on the wrist. If it will encourage the Government to introduce a Bill, I promise that the Opposition would facilitate the passage of any measure which effectively outlawed this filthy trade.
Mr. Wakeham : The hon. Gentleman has asked me five questions about next week's business, one or two of which I think he has asked before. I am not sure that I can be much more helpful, but I know that it is a busy day for the hon. Gentleman. He will be appearing on television tonight, and I hope that his career will not be in jeopardy as a result.
The hon. Gentleman asked me about the Fennell report, as he has done before. I recognise that he wants a debate on it. I cannot promise him a debate, but I should have thought that some of the points he might want to make would be relevant to the debate on Tuesday. I realise, however, that that is not a substitute. The period of consultation on student grants is not yet over, and again I cannot promise a debate in the immediate future. The Government will be responding in due course to the Select Committee report on child care, but I have no news of when that response will be available.
On the question of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee, as I said last week, I am due to see two of the hon. Gentleman's hon. Friends to discuss the way forward, and I do not believe that it would be wise for me to make any more statements until I have had a chance to hear their views.
I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for saying that the Opposition would facilitate any additional legislation that might be necessary to deal with the totally abhorrent business of buying and selling kidneys and other human organs. The Department of Health is looking at this matter urgently, and will no doubt make a report in due course.
Sir William Clark (Croydon, South) : Would my right hon. Friend give thought to the possibility of a debate on the Monopolies and Mergers Commission? Does he not agree that there must be something wrong with the law whereby, if the MMC gives approval to a bid, the bid must go through and the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has no power whatsoever to stop it--despite the fact that the DTI inspectors looked at share dealings in Consolidated Goldfields and it has now been agreed that the Minorco bid should go forward? If, indeed, the investigation into share dealings reveals that there has been insider dealing, presumably the bid will have to be
Column 429unscrambled. Surely there is something wrong with the law if we allow it to go forward, then find that there is something wrong with it and have to unscramble it.
Mr. Wakeham : As my hon. Friend knows, the purpose of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission legislation is to deal with matters other than the questions that are the subject of the DTI investigation. It just happens that both are there at the same time. As a result of the MMC determination my right hon. Friend has no powers under the Fair Trading Act. With regard to the inspectors' investigation, I do not believe we should judge anything until we have the inspectors' report.
Mr. Nigel Spearing (Newham, South) : Would the Leader of the House be a little more specific about the unnamed debate on agriculture on 13 February? Is he aware that since most of the matters relating to agriculture come from Brussels, the Select Committee on European Legislation at this time of the year normally looks at the price proposals, takes evidence from the Minister, and reports to the House, and there is then a debate? In view of his oft-repeated wish, and the wish of the House, that there should be more effective scrutiny of EEC matters, would he now give an undertaking that the debate on Monday week will not concern the EEC price proposals or matters relating thereto?
Mr. Wakeham : What I will do is tell the hon. Gentleman that I will write to him about the debate. I would not want to go ahead with it if he did not think this was a satisfactory time for it. It is arranged provisionally for a week next Monday, so we have time to consider the points that he wants to make. Mr. William Cash (Stafford) : Does my right hon. Friend recall that late last night an EEC directive, which had reached a common position without debate in the House, was to be considered? My right hon. Friend was good enough to withdraw the motion on the Order Paper about that directive because there had been no debate before the position was adopted, and it appeared that we would have no debate last night. Does my right hon. Friend agree that there is increasing concern in this House about debates before common positions or directives are adopted? Will he take appropriate steps to ensure that that does not happen in future?
Mr. Wakeham : I am not sure that the recent history as my hon. Friend recalls it is quite accurate. I believe that the matter was put down for debate. Unfortunately, the Opposition Member who was due to take part in it did not turn up. Therefore, there was not a very prolonged debate. The matter came before the House and there was some dissatisfaction about the situation. I agreed not to move the motion on the Order Paper, so that discussions could take place. It was no fault of the Government that the debate did not take place.
Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North) : May I first of all sympathise with the Leader of the House on the widespread media reports that he is due to be dismissed-- [Interruption.] Well, representations can no doubt be made to the Prime Minister on his behalf. When is the Companies Bill due to come to this House? Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the fact that the amendment carried in the Lords against the Government, which in effect will mean that no donation could be made to a
Column 430political party without the shareholders' approval, should not be changed in any way? Does not the Leader of the House recognise that the way in which the Tory party is run, internaly and financially, is so murky and disturbing that reform is absolutely essential?
Mr. Wakeham : On the first of the hon. Gentleman's comments, it is an interesting subject for speculation whether there is any conceivable circumstance in which he might have a job from which he might be dismissed. That circumstance is very unlikely. On the second question, the Companies Bill is before the other place, which has its procedures and will deal with the Bill. It will then come before this House and we will have plenty of opportunities to discuss it.
Mr. Anthony Nelson (Chichester) : Is my right hon. Friend aware that many people in the middle east believe that this country has a special and historic responsibility to take initiatives to find peace in that region? Following the recent visit of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to the region, and bearing in mind the forthcoming visit of my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Foreign and Commomwealth Office, will my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House give careful consideration to an early debate which would be welcomed by hon. Members on both sides of the House to allow us an opportunity to comment on the fast-moving and critical situation in that area?
Mr. Wakeham : I am sure that my hon. Friend is right to pay tribute to the efforts of my colleagues in the middle east, an area where traditionally we have has considerable influence. I recognise the need for a debate in the not-too-distant future. I cannot promise a debate at the moment, but I will bear it in mind.
Mr. Greville Janner (Leicester, West) : Can the right hon. Gentleman promise the House a debate on the Government's apparent continued determination that Britain will be represented at the funeral of Emperor Hirohito by the Duke of Edinburgh--[ Hon. Members : -- "Oh, no."]. It is not a matter for groaning. The mail that I have received about that is greater than about any other topic since I have been a Member of this House. The country is outraged about what is happening, as more and more revelations emerge about the way in which our troops were treated during the last war. Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that the Prime Minister's reply to me in essence was that we trade with that country? As it is to be a working funeral, perhaps a Minister from the Department of Trade and Industry can make a statement to the House.
Mr. Wakeham : The hon. and learned Gentleman seems, in his concern about this issue, to be distorting the position, which has been set out clearly by my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. It would not be right for me to add to anything that he has said.
Mr. David Nicholson (Taunton) : In view of the front-page story in today's Daily Telegraph about a possible Government package on Sunday trading, will the House have a chance to debate that subject before the
Column 431Government reach firmer conclusions? Will the House have an opportunity to debate the recent White Paper on the future of development plans?
Mr. Wakeham : With regard to a debate on Sunday trading, there are more ways of initiating debate in the House than through me. I have no plans for a debate on that subject at present, but I shall listen to any suggestions from my hon. Friend. Nor have I any immediate plans for a debate on the development plan issue that he raised.
Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) : Will the Leader of the House organise a debate about the PCW fraud, involving Peter Cameron-Webb and Peter Dixon, who conveniently have been in the United States for more than five years, which is beyond the extradition period? In that time the Government have done nothing whatsoever about the affair. Was that cover-up primarily to provide protection for those in the Lloyd's insurance market and those in high places at the Bank of England, who have managed to protect those two people? Will the Leader of the House tell us the views of the Government and the Attorney-General now that that £40 million has been taken? Can we have an assurance that the Government will take some steps to make sure that action is taken on that matter?
Mr. Wakeham : The hon. Gentleman's twisted mind sometimes allows him to ramble a little. The position is very simple. If there is evidence that can be brought before a court of law, the authorities responsible for prosecution in this country will bring that evidence and will dispose of it. It is not a matter for the Government to bring prosecutions.
Mr. Michael Latham (Rutland and Melton) : Since on at least one morning next week it is likely to be snowing, raining or freezing, how is my right hon. Friend getting on with providing some protection for our constituents who wish to visit this place and who are likely to have to stand in the rain, the snow or the frost?
Mr. Wakeham : I guess that my hon. Friend is referring to the matter that he has raised with me before. As I said then, it is being considered by the Accommodation and Administration Sub-Committee of the Services Committee. When it has deliberated, we will be able to take the matter further.
Mr. Eric S. Heffer (Liverpool, Walton) : In view of the long time since the report came out, and the importance of the issue, is it not time that the House debated the report of the Joint Committee on Private Bill Procedure?
Mr. Wakeham : Yes, I have promised a debate on that, and I hope to arrange it in the not-too-distant future. However, I think it is important that the many interests involved have a chance to study what the hon. Gentleman will recognise is a complex and difficult subject. Many Government Departments are involved in those matters, and at the moment I am seeking their views on the report. It is an important report and I should like us to have an informed debate after proper consideration.
Column 432Industry Select Committee, and urges that petrol prices continue to be displayed in gallons rather than only in litres?
[That this House notes the recommendation of the Trade and Industry Committee that petrol prices should continue to be displayed in gallon as well as litre term on boards visible from the roadside ; notes that the Price Marking (Petrol) (Amendment) Order 1988 will remove this requirement with effect from 23rd January ; and calls for a debate on the Order.]
As it has been signed by no fewer than 202 hon. Members on both sides of the House, will he arrange an early debate on the subject?
Mr. Wakeham : I recognise that a number of my hon. Friends have asked for a debate on that subject. Since last week, I have had discussions with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. In the light of those discussions, my right hon. Friend has today written to my hon. Friend the Member for Hastings and Rye (Mr. Warren) in his capacity as Chairman of the Trade and Industry Select Committee and suggested discussions on how best to proceed.
Mr. Tony Banks (Newham North-West) : May I take the Leader of the House back to the matter of private Bill procedure? What is the delay in our having a "take note" debate on the report of the Joint Committee on Private Bill Procedure? It would be only a "take note" debate and would not require any Executive decision. The Leader of the House knows there is a great deal of feeling on both sides of the House about the way in which the private Bill procedure is used--for example, in the most recent cases on the siting of the second London terminal for the Channel tunnel and the building problem that the Government will have to face concerning the fast route through Kent. There is no reason at all for extending consultation ; the right hon. Gentleman should let us have that "take note" debate now. If he will not let us have a debate on a report that has already been produced, when will we receive the report on televising Parliament? It is not fair that the Leader of the House should treat us like this.
Mr. Wakeham : The hon. Gentleman is pushing at an open door. I am trying not to delay a debate on the private Bill procedure report but am doing much by collecting the views of Departments so that I can make an informed speech to the House. The hon. Gentleman may like to have debates in which knowledge and information are not purveyed ; I prefer debates in which some information is given. I am with the hon. Gentleman in wanting that debate as soon as it can practicably be arranged. [Interruption.] There is no need for him to get excited about it--I am on his side. I will be happy when the report of the Select Committee on televising the House is written and it reports to the House. We are proceeding as fast as we can.
Mr. Nicholas Bennett (Pembroke) : When may we expect a debate on the National Health Service White Paper? Given the interest in Health Service debates, and the fact that many hon. Members are unable to speak in them, will my right hon. Friend allocate two days for it?
Mr. Wakeham : My hon. Friend is pushing his luck a bit ; he has not got one day out of me yet. I recognise the need for a debate, but hon. Members would do better to study carefully what my right hon. and learned Friend the
Column 433Secretary of State for Health proposes in the White Paper. It is an important and comprehensive review, and I should wish us to debate it when that period of study has elapsed.
Mr. Keith Vaz (Leicester, East) : The Leader of the House was not present during Home Office questions, so he would not have heard the Home Secretary's statement that he knew of no police authority that had contracted out services. Leicestershire education authority employs private contractors--private police officers--to patrol its schools. Bearing in mind the fact that, on Monday, the Home Secretary announced the allocation of additional police officers, and the grave concern in Leicestershire that only 27 of the 89 officers requested have been approved, will the Leader of the House find time for a debate on this important subject? Will he have a word with the Home Secretary and tell him that it is not on to release important material by press release? The best way for him to announce allocations is to make a statement to the House so that he can be questioned on it.
Mr. Wakeham : Even though I was not here, somehow I seem to know what my right hon. Friend said. He was talking about police forces, and what he said was correct. The hon. Gentleman is raising a matter that he should take up with the local education authority.
Mr. David Shaw (Dover) : Is my hon. Friend aware that today is the first anniversary of the P and O dispute at Dover? Might it not be an appropriate subject for debate, given that pickets and demonstrators have abused their position over the past year and, as part of that abuse, have thrown beer at an eight-year-old child, reducing her to tears, and have been involved in furthering the dispute?
Is my right hon. Friend aware that residents around the port of Dover are still suffering and that employees are still being intimidated on their way to work? In the debate, would it not be appropriate to state that the police have been exceedingly reasonable--some would say overly reasonable-- to pickets and demonstrators? Does my right hon. Friend agree that it would be appropriate to include in the debate the fact that, over the past year, Labour Members of Parliament have been on the picket lines encouraging disgraceful acts of intimidation?
Mr. Jeff Rooker (Birmingham, Perry Barr) : Given the undoubted and welcome increase in charitable giving over the past few years, does the Leader of the House think that it would be a good idea to have a debate on charitable giving so that we can deploy our case and listen to the arguments and excuses of Conservative Members, who try to defend the unlawful channelling of charitable funds to the Conservative party?
Mr. Wakeham : The hon. Gentleman makes statements that cannot be backed up and that are wholly unjustified. He is perfectly right to draw the House's attention to the substantial increase in charitable giving. A great deal of it is due partly to the increased prosperity under this Government and to the better fiscal climate created by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Column 434and he agreed to write to me. I want to thank him for his courteous and kind letter about the swindles of people in this country that have been carried out in the name of the Manx Government- -perhaps even by the Manx Government. Does my right hon. Friend agree that there should be some concern about the legalised swindle of the charges made by the official receivers and liquidators in a £42 million case? Of that, £12 million has been found, of which the liquidators have paid themselves £6 million.
Mr. Wakeham : My hon. Friend did not say whether that was an extension of his Isle of Man question or another question, but he raises an important point. I cannot find time for a debate on it immediately, but it may be a subject on which my hon. Friend can try for an Adjournment debate.
Mr. Terry Lewis (Worsley) : Now that the Monopolies and Mergers Commission has concluded its investigations into the sleazy business of telephone chat lines, which has been speculated on widely over the past few days, will the Leader of the House provide time for a debate on the topic?
Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North) : Is my right hon. Friend aware that, since Labour took control of Ealing council fewer than three years ago, there has been a plague of rats in the borough, which is a serious matter? It is not helped by the fact that the roads were not swept for three weeks over Christmas and that some have not been swept for two years. The refuse was not collected for a few weeks either. Residents in the borough are having to pay an extra 35 per cent. in rates for reduced services and a plague of rats, so could we have an early debate on seeking means to force Ealing council to improve its services to the people--and at a reasonable price?
Mr. Wakeham : My hon. Friend makes his own point. I wish that I could offer him an early debate on the subject. However, I know his ingenuity, and I have no doubt that he will find a way to make his point effectively.
Mr. Jimmy Hood (Clydesdale) : When we have a debate on agriculture on 13 February, will the Leader of the House ask his right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture to make a statement on the allegation on Scottish television last week and in the press this week that there has been a cover -up by the Ministry on radiation levels in two parts of Scotland, one of which--Tinto hill and Carstairs--is in my constituency? Will the Minister answer those allegations and give an explanation on 13 February?
Mr. Wakeham : I suspect that that matter falls within the responsibility of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland. I assure the hon. Gentleman that there has not been a cover- up, and I shall see that someone writes to him with the information he seeks.
Column 435effectively destroyed jobs and killed the competitiveness of scheme ports and runs counter to the principle of economic deregulation of which he and I are proud?
Mr. Wakeham : I recognise that my hon. Friend and others feel strongly on the matter. It featured quite extensively in the debate on the Employment Bill, which will be returning to the Floor of the House. I cannot promise my hon. Friend additional time to discuss the matter, but I recognise its importance.
Mr. Matthew Taylor (Truro) : Will the Leader of the House accept that there is growing public disquiet over the apparent link between aluminium in water and Alzheimer's disease, which is also commonly referred to as senile dementia? That concern was made far worse by the disaster at Camelford in Cornwall, the ill health that people are still suffering and the fact that the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, the hon. Member for Lewisham, East (Mr. Moynihan), has admitted that there are dangerous levels of aluminium, exceeding EEC drinking water regulations, in many parts of the country, including the north Yorkshire villages of Boltby and Sutton under Whitestonecliffe? Will the right hon. Gentleman allow time for the House to debate that important matter of public disquiet?
Mr. Wakeham : I cannot promise time now, although, if there is a statement or announcement to be made by my right hon. Friend, I shall certainly find time for that, and I shall refer the matter to him.
Mr. Jacques Arnold (Gravesham) : Does my right hon. Friend agree that an amendment to the Employment Bill currently before the House might be the way to bring about the abolition of the national dock labour scheme? Is he aware that the number of registered dockers has dropped from 78,000 to fewer than 9,500, and that those of us who represent portside constituencies are concerned that, with the species of registered dockers, are dying our ports in our areas, and that action is long overdue?
Mr. Brian Sedgemore (Hackney, South and Shoreditch) : Would the Leader of the House care to consider the insulting and ignorant reply that he gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner)? Is he really unaware that it is the Attorney-General who has masterminded the abysmal attempts over the past five years to extradite Peter Cameron-Webb and Peter Dixon in connection with the Lloyd's fraud in which £40 million was stolen? The Attorney-General keeps telling me that he cannot get the co-operation of the Swiss authorities. Does the Leader of the House believe that he has the right to be complacent when two people who have stolen £40 million are rubbing lotion into their private parts on sun- kissed beaches in the southern hemisphere?
Mr. Wakeham : I am not being complacent about anything. The Attorney -General has his responsibilities as a Law Officer of the Crown and they are different from his responsibilities--and mine--as a member of the Government. I am sure that my right hon. and learned
Column 436Friend has discharged his obligations to the best of his ability and that, if it were possible and right to bring charges in court, he would have done so ; but it is not for me to comment on that.
Mr. John Browne (Winchester) : Does my right hon. Friend accept that, while the Government's statistics published under the Animals (Scientific) Procedures Act 1986 are most welcome, they do not cover certain very important areas, such as the severity of the pain caused to animals under live experiments over a length of time? Does my right hon. Friend accept that these gaps exist, that corrections have already been made in the published statistics and that it is an issue that is not only important to many people but causes great anxiety to people in this country? Therefore, please may we have a debate early on in the Session so that these statistics--the first set of statistics--can be discussed, and suggestions put forward for their improvement?
Mr. Wakeham : Of course it is an important subject, and I recognise my hon. Friend's concern about it but it is also important that we should not exaggerate the position. Unfortunately, there was a small error in two of the tables in respect of safety studies. The total number of procedures under the heading "safety studies" should have been around 244,000 instead of 247,000. The figures were correctly given in subsequent tables. This is an extremely complex analysis. Corrected figures will be published in the 1988 statistics in the middle of this year and we are grateful to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and, indeed, to my hon. Friend for pointing out the error.
Mr. Bob Cryer (Bradford, South) : Will the Leader of the House consider initiating a debate next week on the machinery of government? We could then discuss the need for guidelines for the employment of parliamentary advisers to the Government, who have been something of a heterogeneous collection since 1979. They have included Peter Shipley, a former member of the National Front, who apparently escaped the scrutiny of special branch, Peter Luff, who is employed by a company that is being investigated by the Department of Trade and Industry which he is advising, and Sir Jeffrey Sterling of P and O, who is apparently meddling in the Department of Transport although ostensibly he is at the Department of Trade and Industry. Why does only the Prime Minister have the guts to reveal the staggering amount of money paid to these people, while every other Department which employs Tory advisers at a cost to the taxpayer of millions of pounds refuses to reveal the exact amounts? The Prime Minister alone is prepared to accept that she is paying her Tory chums hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.
Mr. Wakeham : The hon. Gentleman pursues his own course. Special advisers--not unknown under the Government of which he was a member--are appointed under well laid down procedures properly controlled under the arrangements for the Civil Service, and I do not believe that there is call for a debate on the subject.
Mr. D. N. Campbell-Savours (Workington) : Why is the Leader of the House positively and vigorously obstructing a debate on the Procedure Committee's recommendations? Who is winding him up? Why is he doing it?
Mr. Ray Powell (Ogmore) : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Last weekend, I sent you a request, saying that I hoped to catch your eye during yesterday's debate on low pay. I had not asked to speak for some months, other than on behalf of the New Building Sub-Committee whose report I presented some weeks ago. I asked permission to speak yesterday as the senior Member sponsored by the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers, which has 400,000 members, quite a number of whom are on low pay, and because I am also connected directly with the wages councils. When I approached you--