HC Deb 04 December 1947 vol 445 cc579-83
Captain Crookshank

May I ask the Leader of the House to tell us the Business for next week?

Mr. H. Morrison

The Business for next week will be as follows:

Monday, 8th December—Second Reading of the New Zealand Constitution (Amendment) Bill [Lords]; Report stage of the Finance Bill; Committee and remaining stages of the Mandated and Trust Territories Bill [Lords]; and the Pensions (Governors of Dominions, etc.) Bill.

Tuesday, 9th December—Committee and remaining stages of the New Zealand Constitution (Amendment) Bill [Lords]; Third Reading of the Finance Bill; Committee and remaining stages of the Public Works Loans Bill; and the Medical Practitioners and Pharmacists Bill [Lords].

Wednesday, 10th December—Concluding stages of the Parliament Bill; and consideration of the Motion relating to Disclosure of Confidential Information.

Thursday, 11th December and Friday 12th December—A Debate will take place on Palestine.

Captain Crookshank

With regard to Thursday and Friday, can the right hon. Gentleman tell us, first of all, when we are likely to get from the Secretary of State for the Colonies the promised statement which, I presume, will be an important feature of that Debate; and, secondly, can he tell us what form the Debate will take? Will it be on a Motion, on the Adjournment, or on what?

Mr. Morrison

With regard to the last point, it is proposed that the Debate should take place on the Adjournment. With regard to the first point, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies said that a statement would be made shortly. The intention is that the statement should be made in the Debate.

Captain Crookshank

To make the Debate really valuable we ought to have the Government's statement some considerable time before the Debate in order that parties in all parts of the House will be able to study it and go to the Debate fully informed of the most up-to-date situation.

Mr. Morrison

I will be willing to consider representations, but the right hon. and gallant Gentleman should not be so confident on the point. Sometimes a statement is made and a Debate demanded but that Debate is not always given. When a Debate is given freely and openly it does not follow that a Debate should be preceded by a considered statement some days in advance. I do not automatically surrender to the claim of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman who seems to think there is a point of practice here. There is no such point of practice, but if he wants to talk nicely through the usual channels we shall be glad to talk.

Captain Crookshank

I am much obliged, but the right hon. Gentleman will remember that his right hon. Friend said yesterday that the statement was going to be made soon and I imagined that "soon" from yesterday, would be sometime before this day week.

Mr. Byers

When do the Government proposes to give time to debate the very important White Paper on Capital Investment which has been put into the hands of Members of the House?

Mr. Morrison

That is under consideration. Perhaps it might be discussed through the usual channels.

Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew

Could the Leader of the House say when time will be given to discuss the Report of the Select Committee on the Members' Fund or when legislation will be introduced? We are piling up an enormous amount of money and we cannot give any of it to deserving cases.

Mr. Morrison

I am very sorry there has been some delay about this. I have asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to prepare a White Paper, which would be a purely informative White Paper, in order to give the House some information on various possible alternatives of a factual character on this problem. I still hope to get the Debate in before Christmas, but I cannot be certain.

Mr. Boothby

Can the Leader of the House tell us whether the Government propose to ask the House to approve of the Geneva Tariffs Agreement before Christmas?

Mr. Morrison

For technical reasons which I have not got in my head and on which I could not stand examination, I am afraid it is going to be difficult, apart from the fact that the President of the Board of Trade is now in Moscow. I had made provisional arrangements whereby it would be debated before Christmas. For various technical reasons in connection with international procedure in these matters, it may have to be put off until after Christmas. I am sorry about that but we will try to take it is early as we can.

Mr. Edgar Granville

I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to bear in mind the importance of giving the House an opportunity to discuss the Report of the Boundary Commission that I understand is to be issued on Friday.

Mr. Morrison

Yes, the House will certainly have an opportunity to debate it, because this is bound to come up as part of the Bill for redistribution and electoral reform so that the House will have the fullest opportunity of considering the proposals then.

Mr. Charles Williams

Is the right hon. Gentleman yet in a position to inform the House if it is likely to sit during Christmas week?

Mr. Morrison

Not so far as I know, but if the hon. Gentleman has any wish to do that, perhaps he will make representations.

Air-Commodore Harvey

Could the Leader of the House tell when the accounts of the three Air Corporations for the year ended last March and promised for November will be placed before the House, and when will the Debate take place?

Mr. Morrison

I do not know about the Debate. Debates on these Reports are not automatic and never were. That is a matter which we can consider and dilate on later, as I suggested in reply to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank). I have not had notice of this question but I gather, though I cannot be sure, that these reports are on the way.

Mr. Dumpleton

I should like to ask my right hon. Friend, arising out of his announcement about the White Paper on Capital Investment, about which he said that arrangements could be made through the usual channels, whether, when the arrangements are made, there will be some arrangement of the Debate so that some part of the time will be concentrated on the question of the housing programme which is causing considerable concern?

Mr. Morrison

I got the idea from Press reports that there is concern about the housing aspect, but I cannot very well make arrangements regarding the shape the Debate takes, because that is a matter for Mr. Speaker. Hon. Members will have to take their chance, and I am sure Mr. Speaker will do his best to be fair between them.

Major Legge-Bourke

Referring to Thursday's and Friday's Business, would not the Leader of the House agree that events are moving with considerable rapidity in Palestine, and it is most important that when the Debate takes place the Government's decision in the matter should have been carefully considered and that, as the statement is really most urgent, it should be made before the Debate takes place?

Mr. Morrison

I can assure the hon. and gallant Gentleman that the situation is being, and will be, very carefully considered but it is not quite consistent for him to ask us to give very careful consideration and then to press us to make a statement earlier than might be consistent with the position.

Mr. A. Edward Davies

In view of the important nature of the Motion on the Order Paper for Wednesday about the declaration of confidential information, can the Leader of the House say what are the arrangements for that day and what time will be allotted to it.

[That, if in any case hereafter a Member shall have been found guilty by this House of corruptly accepting payment for the disclosure and publication of confidential information about matters to be proceeded with in Parliament, any person responsible for offering such payment shall incur the grave displeasure of this House; and this House will take such action as it may, in the circumstances, think fit.]

Mr. Morrison

That depends on the pleasure of the House. I was hoping it need not take long but it must depend on what degree of controversy there is. As hon. Members will see, we have modified the Motion and I was hoping either it could be agreed to or that it would go through pretty expeditiously. On the other hand, if strong views should eventuate I should not be able to help it, but, honestly, I do not think it need take too much time.

Sir W. Wakefield

Are we to understand from the reply of the Lord President of the Council that, although a Debate was promised on the accounts of the three Air Corporations, that Debate is not now going to take place?

Mr. Morrison

If the hon. Gentleman will tell me who made the promise, and when, I will have a look at it, but I am pretty clear that I never made it.

Sir W. Wakefield

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation gave that specific undertaking to the House.

Mr. Morrison

If he did, he ought to have consulted the Leader of the House.