§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Eden)
The Business for next week will be as follows:
Tuesday, 11th July and Wednesday, 12th July—Second Reading of the Town and Country Planning Bill and Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.
Thursday, 13th July—Supply (17th Allotted Day), Committee. The Vote for the Ministry of Fuel and Power will be considered, which will enable a Debate to take place on coal and the work of the Ministry.
Friday, 14th July—;Motion for an Address for the continuance in force of the Emergency Powers (Defence) Acts.
§ Mr. Greenwood
May I ask the Leader of the House, first, whether, well in advance of Thursday's Debate on the Ministry of Fuel and Power, the proposed White Paper will be in the hands of Members, and, secondly, whether he appreciates that there is a fairly widespread opinion in the House that it would have been preferable to have had a Debate on the White Paper in advance of the Debate on the Second Reading of the Town and Country Planning Bill, so that when that Second Reading Debate did take place it would be put into its proper place in the wider sphere? I would also ask my right hon. Friend whether he will reconsider the Business for next week. According to the proposed time table the necessary Money Resolution, if the Second Reading Debate on the Town and Country Planning Bill takes place, is to be taken the same day. As the Money Resolution is very tightly drawn, and would prohibit any discussion of many of the financial considerations involved during the Committee stage, will my right hon. Friend see whether something cannot be done to draft it in much wider terms?
§ Mr. Eden
As regards the White Paper on Coal, I hope it will be available to hon. Members to-morrow. As regards next week's Business, my right hon. Friend will understand that the White Paper does not deal with the immediate situation with which the Bill deals and also that we are, subject to your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, debarred from a wide discussion on the White Paper, when the Bill itself is available to the House. The Government have considered the position and they wish to proceed with the Bill because they wish the Minister to have an opportunity to give an explanation and an account to the House and to those in the country who are interested in the matter. As regards the Money Resolution, we admit that it is tightly drawn. Perhaps the night hon. Gentleman will approach the Government through the usual channels and we will see whether something can be done to meet the point.
§ Mr. Greenwood
On the major point of the White Paper, does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that this is a new procedure and that hitherto a discussion 1319 on the White Paper has preceded legislation? I think that has been found satisfactory on all sides of the House. Would it not be better even at this stage to have a discussion on the wider topic, so that the whole bearing can be discussed before we come down to the more detailed Measure which covers only a part.
§ Sir Percy Harris
I should like to support the right hon. Gentleman's plea. There is a great deal of criticism of the form and shape of the Town Planning Bill, not only in the House but amongst local authorities. At a time like this we want, if possible, to avoid unfriendly divisions or too much criticism. If the Leader of the House adopts the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion and devotes the two days that he is offering to a discussion of the wider problem later on he may be able to meet the criticisms of local authorities and have an agreed Bill.
§ Mr. Eden
I am sorry, but the right hon. Gentleman is not offering me a practical solution at all. The Bill deals with the immediate situation, a limited but immediate purpose. The White Paper deals with long-term and more distant policy, and there is no parallel, such as the right hon. Gentleman suggests, between the position in relation to this matter and the earlier position in respect of employment policy. I really cannot undertake to change the plan at this hour.
§ Earl Winterton
When does my right hon. Friend propose to make the announcement, customary I believe at this time of the Session, as to the date when the House will adjourn?
§ Mr. Silkin
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Association of Local Authorities have unanimously asked that there should be discussions about the Town and Country Planning Bill before the Second Reading is taken? In view of the fact that the Bill will have to be operated by the local authorities, and cannot succeed without their good will, would it not be desirable to postpone the Second Reading and to carry on the discussion with the local authorities?
§ Mr. Eden
I am fully alive to the point that the hon. Member makes but, in the view of the Government, we thought it desirable that the Minister should state the position and the views of the Government on the Second Reading and then, if desirable and necessary, certainly discussions could take place between Second Reading and Committee.
§ Mr. Silkin
Would it not be possible to have a discussion on the Second Reading without taking a vote?
§ Sir Herbert Williams
In regard to the Debate on the continuance of the Emergency Powers Act, that Act will have been in operation for five years on 24th August and as during the next twelve months it is not unreasonable to assume that the necessity for full powers will come to an end, will my right hon. Friend consider the possibility of making a Motion that the continuance should only apply for six months on this occasion?
§ Commander Galbraith
To return to the previous question, will not my right hon. Friend further consider the postponement of the Second Reading of the Bill in view of its highly technical and complicated nature, so as to give hon. Members more adequate time to discuss it?
§ Mr. Stokes
Is it the Government's intention to give the House an opportunity to discuss the International Bank before any decision is taken? Will he hear in mind that Mr. Morgenthau has stated that discussions must come to an end by 19th July, and that this House has not yet had any discussion at all upon it?
§ Mr. Shinwell
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it was understood that 1321 the subject of the International Monetary Agreement was the only one considered at Bretton Woods? As far as can be seen, they are discussing matters of much wider importance. Can we have an assurance that, before there is any agreement between the experts, which may commit us on any matter outside the monetary agreement, the House will have an opportunity to debate it?
§ Mr. Eden
I think we must distinguish between discussion and commitment. No Government could ever undertake not to enter on the discussion of certain matters. What they can undertake, and have undertaken in this case, is not to enter, on behalf of the Government, into any commitment without reference to the House. I do not think the House can ask for more than that.
§ Commander Sir Archibald Southby
Will my right hon. Friend give further consideration to the plea that has been made for a postponement of the discussion of the Town and Country Planning Bill on the ground that not only has the House not had time to discuss its far-reaching proposals, but the country has had no time in which to consider and digest it?
§ Mr. Stokes
On the question of the International Bank, the right hon. Gentleman has said the Government have promised that there shall be no commitment without reference to this House but, if representatives of all these nations meet together and come to a conclusion before the House has had any opportunity for discussion, virtually the Government are committed, and the right hon. Gentleman knows it perfectly well.
§ Captain Cobb
To return to the Town and Country Planning Bill, would it not be making a farce of our proceedings to ask the House to give a Second Reading to a Bill which it has not had an opportunity of studying?