Monday 31 October----Opposition Day (20th allotted day). Until about 7 o'clock, there will be a debate on an Opposition motion, for which the subject will be announced. That will be followed by a debate on transport and the environment, on an Opposition motion.
Remaining stages of the Law of Property (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill [Lords] .
Proceedings on the Drug Trafficking Bill [Lords] , which is a consolidation measure.
Tuesday 1 November----Opposition Day (12th allotted day--second part). Until 7 o'clock, there will be a debate on conservation of energy on a motion in the name of the Liberal Democrats.
Consideration of Lords amendments which may be received to the Local Government etc. (Scotland) Bill.
Consideration of Lords amendments which may be received to the Deregulation and Contracting Out Bill.
Wednesday 2 November----The House may be asked to consider any Lords messages which may be received.
Motion on the Local Government Act 1988 (Competition) (Defined Activities) Order.
Motion on the Local Government Act 1988 (Competition) (Defined Activities) (Construction and Property Services) Order.
Thursday 3 November----Subject to the progress of business, the House is expected to be prorogued.
The House will also wish to know that European Standing Committee A will meet on Tuesday 1 November at 10.30 am to consider European Union documents Nos. 8441/93 and 8128/94 relating to protection of animals during transport.
[Wednesday 2 November:
European Standing Committee A will meet at 10.30 am to consider unnumbered explanatory memorandum submitted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on 19 April relating to adjustments to fisheries arrangements for Spain and Portugal, two unnumbered explanatory memoranda submitted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on 14 September relating to fisheries; common fisheries control system and fisheries access to areas and resources, and EC Document No. 7541/94 relating to fisheries multi- annual guidance programme 1993.]
Mrs. Taylor: I thank the Leader of the House for that statement. As it seems that it will not be possible next week to discuss further and act on the recommendations of the Jopling report, will he ensure that it is debated and acted upon early in the new Session? Does the right hon. Gentleman accept that any debates next week will inevitably be overshadowed by allegations and
counter-allegations about the conduct of Ministers, and that that will continue unless the air can be cleared? That requires the Priveleges Committee to meet in public wherever possible. Will the right hon. Gentleman do
Column 1008everything in his power to make sure that that Committee can meet as soon as possible, to the satisfaction of all hon. Members and to restore the confidence of the general public in that Committee?
Mr. Newton: I welcomed the hon. Lady in a way on Monday, but perhaps I could take this opportunity to welcome her to this first exchange on the business question and congratulate her on her appointment. The hon. Lady asked about the Jopling report. I was glad to have an early opportunity to speak to her on the matter. I am grateful to the hon. Lady, as she seems to be continuing the constructive approach of her acting predecessor, the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, East (Mr. Brown), and I shall seek to respond as positively as possible to her remarks this afternoon.
On the hon. Lady's latter remarks, our business will be "overshadowed" by allegations, as she put it, only to the extent that the Opposition continue to wish and engineer that all other proceedings should be overshadowed by such allegations. As for the Privileges Committee, she will know that it would not normally be open to me to discuss the proceedings of that Committee across the Floor of the House and outside the Committee, because of long-standing conventions. She also knows that the Committee has taken an entirely proper decision in accordance with precedent and after a long and full discussion; I can do no more than report that to the House.
Mr. Bob Dunn (Dartford): Will the Leader of the House arrange for an urgent early debate on the actions of Kent education authority which is seeking to impose a primary school on four villages in my constituency, against the opposition of the two existing schools, the two parish councils, all the district councillors and myself, along with the vast majority of people living in those villages? Is it not a matter of the Conservatives backing the people and the Lib-Lab pact at county hall backing the bureaucrats?
Mr. Newton: Many people beyond the House will have heard with concern my hon. Friend's description of the problems in his area. While I cannot promise a debate, I hope that he may be able to raise the point with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education, who is here to answer questions on Tuesday.
Mr. Archy Kirkwood (Roxburgh and Berwickshire): Will the Leader of the House explain why no provision has been made for a debate on the reform of the procedures of the House? I understood that there was an expectation that there would be progress through the usual channels, so that matters would be put in hand for a trial period, at least, for the next Session. If there is no provision for a debate next week, does that mean that that will now not happen?
Mr. Newton: I do not think it does, because the early part of the new Session will be taken up with the debate on the Queen's Speech and, fairly shortly thereafter, the Budget debate, so there would be an opportunity to pursue the matters that interest the hon. Gentleman in a way which, effectively, would give the House the advantages of it at the point at which it would start to count--when that period is over.
Column 1009As to the implicit thrust of the first part of the hon. Member's question, I have already said that discussions are continuing through the usual channels. Obviously, I am anxious that we should proceed in the usual way, which is with full agreement.
Mr. Nicholas Winterton (Macclesfield): The Prime Minister has frequently emphasised the importance of manufacturing industry in the United Kingdom economy. In approximately a month's time, the House will be facing a Budget. Will my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House find time at a early date for a debate on manufacturing in the United Kingdom economy, so that the House can advise the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the measures we believe are needed to ensure that manufacturing continues to play a vital role in our economy?
Mr. Newton: I anticipate that there would be quite a lengthy debate as usual among the debates on the Queen's Speech when we return for the new Session, and I should have thought that it would be likely to provide my hon. Friend with an extensive opportunity to make the point that he wishes to raise.
Mr. Alfred Morris (Manchester, Wythenshawe): Does the Leader of the House regret the grossly intemperate response given to my hon. Friend the Member for Warrington, North (Mr. Hoyle) in the House on Tuesday? Will he confirm, either this afternoon or in a statement early next week, that it is not for any Minister to instruct the Privileges Committee, but for the Privileges Committee itself to decide whether it meets in secrecy or in public? Will he also confirm that that was the legal advice given by the Attorney-General?
Mr. Newton: I cleave to what I said. I do not wish to say anything intemperate, but I will respond to the first half of the right hon. Gentleman's question. Of course it is not for Ministers to interfere with the activities of the Privileges Committee or those of any other Select Committee. They did not interfere. The Committee made its own decision and it is that decision which the right hon. Gentleman is refusing to accept, to the point of declining to co-operate as a member of the Committee.
Mr. Alan Duncan (Rutland and Melton): Will the Leader of the House consider having a debate on the remit of the Nolan committee? For instance, if a Member of Parliament receives substantial financial backing and then the son of that backer receives privileged access to a job, thanks to the patronage of that Member's wife, would that come under the remit of the Nolan committee or the Privileges Committee? If my right hon. Friend is not sure, would he kindly consult the leader of the Labour party about his conduct in that respect?
Column 1010committee is to look at issues, as I would put it, in general rather than at specific allegations against particular people. If specific allegations are made against particular people, they can be looked at, or least considered for examination, in a range of ways, either by the committee to which my hon. Friend has referred or by the Select Committee on Members' Interests, or perhaps in some other way of which I cannot immediately think. That would be the proper way in which to consider such allegations; they would not be issues for the Nolan committee.
Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): On Tuesday's business, does the Leader of the House have any flicker of embarrassment at the way in which English local authorities--Somerset, Oxfordshire and Shropshire, for example--have gone along and, understandably, said, "Look, we don't like the consultation," and have got their way to some kind of acceptable local government reform whereas in Scotland we have had put upon us an inane, expensive, ill-thought-out, unwanted and vindictive scheme of local government reform, with the break-up of Strathclyde and Lothian? A similar reform in England would have been judged quite unacceptable and would have been rejected. Does the right hon. Gentleman remember the poll tax, because the local government reform is another example of us being the guinea pigs?
Mr. Newton: We are frequently told that, in education and a range of other matters in Scotland, there are different traditions, and that it is appropriate to have different arrangements. I see no reason to suppose that that is not appropriate for local government. Certainly it is the case that different ways forward were chosen on local government in Scotland, in England and in Wales to suit what were thought to be the interests and needs of those nations. So I have no flicker of embarrassment at the fact that flexibility has been shown in approaching different problems in different places. Several hon. Members rose --
Madam Speaker: Order. Let me remind the House that business questions is not when we debate issues, but when hon. Members put brisk questions to the Leader of the House. I also remind the House that there is an extremely important Adjournment debate on Northern Ireland to follow, which is over-subscribed. A number of hon. Members will not be called in the debate because there is such a great deal of interest in it--and I intend to impose a 10-minute limit on speeches. Therefore I shall not allow business questions to last much longer, but I plead for brisk questions and answers so that I can call as many hon. Members as possible.
Mr. Quentin Davies (Stamford and Spalding): May I endorse the call of my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) for an urgent debate on manufacturing, because something quite extraordinary is happening in the country at the present time? Not only do we have a high rate of economic growth at 3 per cent., but--
Column 1011be debated. If the hon. Gentleman is asking for a debate on manufacturing industry, he should say so, get it off his chest and let us hear the answer.
Mr. Davies rose --
Mr. Davies: Would it not be a very good idea, Madam Speaker, to have a debate on manufacturing, at a time when manufacturing output is increasing much faster than the rest of the economy and at a time when exports are expanding faster than imports--
Mr. Newton: I hope that I can restore your good will, Madam Speaker, also be helpful to my hon. Friend and be even more helpful than I was before to my hon. Friend the Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton). It has occurred to me that, by some magic foresight, I have already arranged a debate tomorrow on inward investment. It would appear to me that everything that has been said would be relevant tomorrow.
[ That this House deplores the arrest outside Parliament on Wednesday 26th October of the European representative of the Kurdistan Workers Party on his way to address a meeting of members of both Houses; demands his release; and further demands that the Home Secretary withdraws the deportation order to enable the meeting to take place. ]
Will he provide an opportunity next week for the Foreign Secretary and the Home Secretary to come to the House so that the Home Secretary may justify his actions in taking out a deportation order against Mr. Kani Yilmaz and say why Mr. Yilmaz constitutes any more a threat to the national security of this country than the Liberal Democrat peer, the noble Lord Avebury, constitutes a threat to the national security of Turkey?
Mr. Newton: The hon. Gentleman will not expect me to engage in a discussion of the particular case. I cannot immediately make an arrangement for my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary to be here, but, again as it happens, my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will be here next Wednesday if the hon. Gentleman wishes to try to put that question to him.
Column 1012place has not referred to rural areas. Many of the suggestions which have been put forward would be very damaging indeed to rural areas, where people rely on the use of the motor car.
Mr. Paul Flynn (Newport, West): When can we have a debate on the very disappointing report on personal pensions, which does not help almost 4 million people who may well be financially impoverished by taking out personal pensions? Will the Government now, just once, confess their own involvement in the matter, including the personal involvement of the Leader of the House as a former Minister, in the advertisements that they put out, which were wickedly deceptive? What will happen to those who are orphaned, whose firms have gone out of business and who have no redress from anyone?
Mr. Newton: As is perhaps evidenced by the presence of my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Treasury, at my side, we have just had Treasury questions. Indeed, I understand that this matter, which was the subject of an extensive statement by my hon. Friend yesterday, was raised during questions. Certainly I cannot promise to provide a further immediate opportunity.
Mr. James Clappison (Hertsmere): In framing a brief question, may I declare an interest as one of the Members of the House who is a lawyer, and married to a lawyer? Would the Leader of the House find time for a debate on training and education in the legal profession? Could it be so framed as to allow debate on entry to the legal profession and whether entry should be on the basis of fairness or merit, or on the basis of any sort of favours through an old boy network or even through a new boy network?
Mr. Newton: Perhaps I should declare an interest myself, in that one of my daughters is a lawyer as well. It occurs to me that my hon. Friend may wish to raise his question with the Secretary of State for Education who, as I said earlier, is here on Tuesday.
Mrs. Bridget Prentice (Lewisham, East): Is the Leader of the House aware that, when the House is prorogued next Thursday, there will have been no opportunity this year for a debate on the Metropolitan police in London? It has been traditional that the Home Secretary has come to the House to debate that subject so that hon. Members who represent London constituencies have the opportunity to ask him about his policy of financing the Metropolitan police.
Mr. Newton: I shall certainly look at that point in view of the way in which the hon. Lady raises it. That will have to be without commitment, and certainly without a commitment to arrange a debate before Prorogation.
Mr. David Wilshire (Spelthorne): Will my right hon. Friend tell the House whether Monday's debate on the Drug Trafficking Bill [Lords] will give the House an opportunity to debate the policy of legalising cannabis? I
Column 1013am sure that some of us at least are anxious to hear more details of the Liberals' half-baked proposals to do just that.
Mr. Newton: That debate, of course, is a consolidation measure, so it may not offer quite the opportunity that my hon. Friend wishes. Nevertheless, he raises an important point, and I shall bear it in mind whether there may be any such opportunity at some later stage.
Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover): Will the Leader of the House confirm that he has got rid of the debate on the Jopling report on Wednesday? With a spare day before Prorogation, would it not be a wonderful idea for the Government, who are in such low esteem, to pick up the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood (Mr. Berry), give it time, get through its remaining stages, and allow those 5 million disabled people to realise that at long last they are being listened to?
Mr. Newton: In response to the hon. Gentleman's question, the right way forward is for the Government to do what they are doing, which is to look very carefully at the results of the large widespread consultation they have undertaken on these matters and then come to the House with their conclusions.
Mr. Gary Streeter (Plymouth, Sutton): Has my right hon. Friend had a chance to see early-day motion 1583 which calls for the scrapping of Trident and which is signed by no fewer than 60 Labour Members? [ That this House believes that United Kingdom defence spending should be reduced to the average level of other West European countries, allied to constructive plans for defence diversification, arms conversion and the transfer of the savings made to social priorities by investment in job creation and economic development, and the restructure of the United Kingdom's infrastructure; recognises the importance of making retraining of the defence sector workforce a priority; supports the call for the scrapping of the Trident submarine and weapons programme as an essential step towards eliminating nuclear weapons world-wide; notes with dismay the Government's decision to ringfence nuclear weapons in its front line first defence costs study; believes that in rejecting Trident the United Kingdom would demonstrate concrete support for strengthening the nuclear non- proliferation treaty prior to the review and extension conference for the treaty next April; recognises the importance of a successful outcome to the negotiations for a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty for the NPT; further believes that the lifetime costs of Trident deployment will be at least £33 billion when re-fit, replacement and decommissioning are included; that it is the hidden extra costs of continuing the United Kingdom nuclear weapons programme, in health, environment as well as financial terms that has drastically damaged the peace dividend; and therefore calls on the Government to support the cancellation of Trident and to plan the investment of resources saved into job creation and industrial innovation in the British civil economy. ]
Column 1014Can we have a debate on that early-day motion at an early opportunity, so that we can discuss the implications for the city of Plymouth, where 4,000 jobs would be lost and our dockyard closed?
Mr. Newton: I will certainly look to see whether there could be such an opportunity. What we may need is a debate on the growing evidence of the unreconstructed Labour party seeking to regain the ground.
Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West): May we have a debate next week on the live transportation of animals? How would the Leader of the House like to be kept in a confined space for ages, crapped all over and, at the end of it, have his throat cut? I know that that sounds rather like a Cabinet meeting, but that is how animals are transported around Europe. There is a lot of debate about that outside the House, so can we please have a debate inside the House?
Mr. Newton: Joking apart, I have much sympathy with the hon. Gentleman's concern. I cannot arrange a debate on the Floor of the House next week, but as I announced, there is a debate on European Community documents relating to the protection of animals during transport in European Standing Committee A on Tuesday. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that that reflects strong and persistent pressure by the United Kingdom Government to advance the cause of animal welfare in Europe.
Mr. Nigel Forman (Carshalton and Wallington): In connection with the brief debate scheduled for next Monday on transport and the environment, is my right hon. Friend aware that many of us would associate ourselves with the point of view expressed by my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, West (Mr. McLoughlin)--that we need more time to discuss those very important issues which have been highlighted in the recent report of the Royal Commission on environmental pollution? Will he find Government time for such a debate soon after the House returns after Prorogation?
Mr. Newton: Again, given that what happens when the House returns after Prorogation is several days' debate on the Loyal Address, which can range very widely and normally covers all policy, there may well be an opportunity for my hon. Friend then. However, it also occurs to me that remarks of that kind could easily be in order in the Liberal Democrat debate on the conservation of energy next Tuesday.
Ms Janet Anderson (Rossendale and Darwen): Will the Leader of the House give us an idea when time will be allocated for us to debate the survey of potential demand for child care facilities in the Palace of Westminster, which was published by the House of Commons Commission just before the summer recess?
Mr. Newton: I believe that the hon. Lady is aware of the position following the publication of the report. I clearly cannot promise a debate before Prorogation, but it is obviously something that I shall have it in mind to consider when we return.
Mr. Harry Greenway (Ealing, North): Will my right hon. Friend arrange for a debate on training before the House prorogues so that we may examine the Government's excellent record in that regard, and do something about the new Labour council in Ealing, one of whose first actions was to close the training and
Column 1015development centre for Ealing, which will be so damaging for my young constituents, and constituents of all ages and both sexes?
Mr. Newton: Such is the assiduous pursuit by my hon. Friend of his duties that I sometimes feel that I am almost a member of Ealing council because I know so much about its activities. However, I am sure that my hon. Friend's constituents will have noted his very proper expression of concern about what is happening there.
Mr. Cynog Dafis (Ceredigion and Pembroke, North): Will the Leader of the House allow time next week for a statement by the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, West (Mr. Jones), a sponsor and erstwhile enthusiastic supporter of the Energy Conservation Bill who, as the Minister now responsible for energy conservation, is reneging on his support for that Bill, to explain his position which is now becoming untenable, and which really should lead to his resignation?
Mr. Newton: The hon. Gentleman will not expect me to accept any such suggestion as the use of the word "reneging" implies. I am sure that my hon. Friend will make his position clear in any appropriate way, as indeed he already has.
Mr. Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford): In light of our right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary's speech on 24 October and his proposals about a European army, will my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House find time to debate that matter? I gather that there is deep disquiet in the Ministry of Defence about such proposals, and such a debate would at least give us an opportunity to demonstrate what Government policy is with regard to the matter.
Mr. Newton: Once again, I have to refer to the debate on the Address when we come back for the new Session. Indeed, it occurs to me that it gives me a good defence against almost any request today, because every matter will be in order in it. I am therefore providing wide-ranging opportunities for such matters as my hon. Friend raises.
Dr. Norman A. Godman (Greenock and Port Glasgow): Will the Leader of the House say within the next few days when we will see the implementation of the changes to the Standing Orders which govern Scottish business? Many hon. Members are anxious to have an early sitting of the Scottish Grand Committee, which would enable us to question Scottish Office Ministers about the scandalous financial circumstances of the failed private hospital in Clydebank, Health Care International. It is an important matter and it is worthy of an early sitting, during which we could cross-examine the appropriate Ministers.
Mr. Newton: The hon. Gentleman will know that the Standing Order changes were debated and accepted by the House earlier in the year. I will bring his request for a particular use of those Standing Orders to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.
Mr. Bernard Jenkin (Colchester, North): Given that the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food made it plain to the House last Thursday that the Italians should be made to pay for their milk fraud in full, yet, the very next day, the Chancellor of the Exchequer changed that policy by rolling over in front of pressure from the
Column 1016Commission in order to pave the way for the increased money for the European Community, should we not debate changes of Government policy that are made in our name in Brussels, without proper debate and accountability to the House?
Mr. Newton: I am tempted to thank my constituency neighbour, the hon. Member for Colchester, North (Mr. Jenkin), for his helpful question, but I find it difficult to do so. I note the point he makes, and I respond by saying that I do not believe that my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer can in any sense be said to have rolled over. Indeed, I can think of few of my colleagues who are less likely to be rolled over by anybody. My right hon. and learned Friend made substantial progress in the direction that my hon. Friend urges.
Mr. Michael Connarty (Falkirk, East): Could time be found on the spare day next week to debate the inadequacy of the Government's representation of the Scottish people by having a Minister in the other place representing the Government on social policy, particularly in respect of Scottish children legislation, which has been the subject of several meetings with the Minister and the all-party group on children?
Could we have a statement by the Secretary of State? In the papers which were leaked inadvertently by one of his civil servants, he has said that he does not have Cabinet approval for a Children Act for Scotland, and that he wishes the responsible Minister not to mention it in any press releases. On the one hand, those meetings tell us that we will have a Children Act, but, on the other hand, the Secretary of State denies it.
Mr. Newton: The hon. Gentleman knows that I cannot speculate, certainly at present, about what he is in effect speculating about--the contents of the Queen's Speech. As for the rest of his remarks, I had some slight difficulty in being clear about what he was driving at. It seems to me to be a compliment to Scottish representation in Parliament that my noble Friend, who was formerly a Scottish Member of Parliament, is now a Minister in the Department of Social Security, but in the other place.
Lady Olga Maitland (Sutton and Cheam): Will my right hon. Friend consider a debate on solvent abuse? That topic was only touched upon in the Green Paper entitled "Tackling Drugs Together", but it is very important, bearing in mind the fact that three quarters of the nation's children sniff solvents, and that each week two die from it.
Mr. Newton: Although my hon. Friend is right to say that the document that was published in my name and others' last week--"Tackling Drugs Together"--was specifically focused on drugs, there is no doubt that the mechanisms and the approaches it suggests are highly relevant also to tackling solvent abuse, and I believe that they will significantly contribute in that direction as well.
Mr. Harry Barnes (Derbyshire, North-East): The House has only recently returned from a 13-week recess, and now we are to have another fortnight away. It is bad enough having part-time Members of Parliament, but it is a disgrace to have part-time Parliaments--and the two might be related.
Column 1017Many hon. Members value the opportunity to be in their constituencies to look after the other half of their business, as it were, and I am certainly not prepared to stand here and apologise for the fact that they will be able to do so to a degree during the next fortnight.
Mr. John McAllion (Dundee, East): Despite the right hon. Gentleman's earlier reply, the position of the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, West (Mr. Jones), the new Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, with regard to the Energy Conservation Bill is not at all clear. Therefore, can we have a statement from the new Under-Secretary next week explaining why he is allowing some Tory Members to use blocking tactics to prevent further progress on the Bill when it had the support of almost 400 hon. Members, including him in his pre-ministerial days?
Mr. Newton: As I have already said, I am sure that my hon. Friend will always make his position clear. As to the suggestion that he is somehow organising in the way that the hon. Gentleman suggests, the fact is that it is up to individual hon. Members to decide what they will do with regard to a Bill.