HC Deb 10 October 1946 vol 427 cc363-6
Mr. Churchill

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he has any statement to make on Government Business for next week?

The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert Morrison)

Yes, Sir. The Business for next week will be as follows:

Monday, 14th October—Consideration of the Motion relating to the Fair Wages Clauses in Government contracts, and remaining stages of the Atomic Energy Bill, if not previously obtained.

Tuesday, 15th October—Second Reading of the Coinage Bill, the Public Works Loans (No. 2) Bill, and of the Unemployment Insurance (Eire Volunteers) Bill.

Wednesday, 16th October—A Debate on the coal situation will take place on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Thursday, 17th October—Committee and remaining stages of the County Councils Association (Scotland) Bill, the Police (Scotland) Bill (Lords), and of the Education (Scotland) Bill (Lords).

Friday, 18th October—Committee and remaining stages of the Coinage Bill, the Public Works Loans (No. 2) Bill, and of the Unemployment Insurance (Eire Volunteers) Bill.

Sir Henry Morris-Jones

Are we not to have a statement today from the Minister for War with regard to the court-martial of the parachutists?

Mr. H. Morrison

I understand that that will follow.

Mr. Sydney Silverman

Do the Government propose to make any statement, and give the House an opportunity of debating any statement they may care to make, about the present situation in Palestine, or the present position of the negotiations?

Mr. H. Morrison

I should not have thought that that would be useful at the present moment. We will of course keep my hon. Friend's suggestion in mind, but I think it would be the general view of the House that it would not be useful just now.

Mr. Churchill

I am rather inclined to think, Sir, that it might be useful in the course of the next fortnight or so to have a discussion on the situation in Palestine, and perhaps the matter could be raised through the usual channels?

Mr. S. Silverman

Would my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the winter months are coming on, and that there are many thousands of people in Germany anxiously waiting to see what their fate is to be?

Mr. H. Morrison

There are all sorts of difficulties, not only for them but for us— very great difficulties, and we get most of them. But we will keep an open mind on the point of the possibility or desirability of a Debate and, if it is raised through the usual channels, we shall be willing to discuss it. I feel that at this moment it might possibly not be useful.

Mr. Frank Byers

Will the Government afford time for consideration of the Motion standing in the name of the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) and others calling upon the Government to appoint a Royal Commission to inquire into the question of the closed shop?

Mr. H. Morrison

I do not think we can find time for that at the present moment.

Mr. Byers

Does that mean that the Government do not regard this as an important matter?

Mr. H. Morrison

I would not say it is not an important matter, but it is a matter for consideration whether it is a question for the Government or, in the ordinary way, for industry.

Mr. Churchill

Cannot the right hon. Gentleman at least give us an assurance that this matter will be taken into consideration by the Cabinet, because we have just been told, at Question time, that the Cabinet have not even considered the matter? Surely it is a matter which should be taken into consideration by His Majesty's Government, and such consideration should precede any decision as to whether we should have a Debate upon it or not?

Mr. H. Morrison

The right hon. Gentleman knows and understands constitutional practice and doctrine in these matters, and what is taken into consideration by the Cabinet is the responsibility of the Prime Minister and the Minister concerned. It is a domestic matter for the Government. If the situation becomes such that it requires Cabinet consideration, no doubt it will receive it, but it is a matter for the Government.

Mr. Churchill

But it was the Minister of Labour who made this disclosure to the House. He imparted to the House the fact that the Cabinet had never discussed or considered the question of the closed shop. He did not know what it was. Of course, if the Cabinet begin to make revelations of the subjects they discuss or do not discuss, it is only natural that they should be asked questions upon those points.

Mr. H. Morrison

The fact remains that what remains departmental and what goes to the Cabinet is a domestic matter for the Cabinet. The right hon. Gentleman really must face the fact that another right hon. Gentleman now presides over the Government.

Mr. Churchill

I am very glad to face the fact, such as it is, but I must really point out—I do not think the Prime Minister was in the House when this statement was made—that the Minister of Labour stated definitely that the Cabinet had not discussed this matter, and that is not a departmental but a constitutional issue. If the right hon. Gentleman chooses to tell us that they have not discussed this matter, I think that we are entitled to ask that they should discuss the matter, or at any rate that the Prime Minister should say whether or not in fact this matter has been discussed in the Cabinet. You raised these matters, and you have to be asked about them.

Major Legge-Bourke

Will the Leader of the House tell us whether it is intended to publish a White Paper or make some statement giving details of the inquiry into the King David Hotel disaster, which the Prime Minister stated at the time he would investigate? Secondly, is any statement to be made on the steps which the C.I.G.S. took regarding General Barker's letter?

Mr. H. Morrison

With regard to the first point, of course the Government had inquiries made and received reports on the facts of the King David Hotel outrage. I think that they have been pretty extensively published in the Press, and I did not gather that it was the intention of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to publish a White Paper. With regard to the last point, what I said in the Debate on Palestine was that the Chief of the Imperial General Staff would follow up the matter and the statement of General Barker upon it. I expressed the view of the Government, and I thought that the House would be confident in leaving the matter in the competent hands of Field-Marshal Montgomery. I think that is where we intended to leave it and where it should be left.

Mr. Janner

Does the Leader of the House really not intend to follow the indication which he himself gave in respect of the letter of the General? Is he going to let the House know what steps are to be taken?

Mr. H. Morrison

I made the position of the Government perfectly clear in the Debate on that point, and there is no necessity for me to make any further statement.

Mr. Speaker

I think that we had better get on with the next Business.