HC Deb 31 July 1947 vol 441 cc639-42
Mr. Eden

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

Mr. H. Morrison

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

Monday, 4th August—Supply (20th allotted day); Report. Debate on Germany and Austria. At 9.30 p.m. the Report stage of all outstanding Votes will be put from the Chair. Committee and remaining stages of the Isle of Man (Customs) Bill. Motion to approve the Purchase Tax (Charges) (No. 2) Order. Consideration of Amendments to the Agriculture Bill, which are expected to be received from another place today and of further Lords Amendments to the Transport Bill.

Tuesday, 5th August—Consideration of Amendments to the Electricity Bill and the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Bill, which are expected to be received from another place today.

Wednesday and Thursday, 6th and 7th August—All stages of the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill will be taken. A Debate will take place on the state of the nation.

On a convenient day my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will propose a Motion of thanks to the Civil and Military Services of the Crown in India. During the week any outstanding Business will be taken as opportunity offers.

If all outstanding Business has been disposed of, it is hoped to adjourn for the Summer Recess on Friday, 8th August. It may be generally agreeable to suspend the Rule on that day in order to complete outstanding Business and allow time for the Adjournment Motion rather than to meet on Saturday, 9th August. I will make a further statement later.

We shall propose that the House do meet again on Monday, 20th October. It is expected that Prorogation will take place on that day and that the new Session will be opened on Tuesday, 21st October.

I would remind the House that power already exists for Mr. Speaker, on representations being made by the Government, to call the House together at an earlier date, if such a course should be necessary in the public interest.

Mr. Eden

May I ask the Leader of the House first of all, in regard to the question asked by my right hon. Friend the Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) just now, whether he can make the necessary arrangements to allow us to have a discussion, as I think the House will agree we must do upon recent developments in Palestine before we adjourn? Perhaps how to arrange that time may be discussed through the usual channels.

Mr. Morrison

Certainly discussions can proceed through the usual channels. We will see what can be done to agree. But I am bound to say that my own instinctive reaction—it is only an instinctive reaction—is that I am not sure that a Debate would be useful at this particular time.

Hon. Members


Mr. Eden

I tell the right hon. Gentleman straight away that that would be absolutely unacceptable. It is quite unthinkable that this House should adjourn without a discussion of this matter in its true setting. If the right hon. Gentleman does not think that he can find facilities if it is discussed calmly through the usual channels, we would have to find some means even if it meant sitting on Saturday or some other day. I have one other question with regard to the Business on Wednesday and Thursday. So far as we are concerned, it would, I think, meet the general convenience if the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill were taken formally and if the Government would then move the Adjournment of the House for a Debate on the state of the nation, if that is agreeable.

Mr. Morrison

That is all right by us, Sir.

Squadron-Leader Fleming

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. Are we to understand from the answer of the Leader of the House that the Debate will take place in the way the right hon. Gentleman asked?

Mr. Speaker

If the hon. and gallant Member would speak a little louder I might be able to hear what he says.

Mr. Eden

I have two other questions to ask the right hon. Gentleman about Business. First of all, I see that the Third Reading of the Agriculture Bill is being taken in another place today and we are asked to consider the Lords Amendments next Monday. In view of this, can the right hon. Gentleman tell us at all when these Amendments will be available to hon. Members? As far as I can see they cannot be available until Saturday morning at the earliest. It seems hardly reason-able to ask us to debate them on Monday.

Mr. Morrison

I am advised that arrangements are being made whereby the Amendments will be available to the House tomorrow.

Mr. Eden

With regard to the Lords Amendments to the Town and Country Planning Bill, as I understand it a new edition has now been produced or is about to be produced, though the Lords discussed the Bill some time ago. I understand that it is to be in the Vote Office today. We do not know whether it is available now. Oh, here it is—74 pages of Amendments made available today, to be discussed tomorrow. Does the right hon. Gentleman think that is treating the House seriously?

Mr. Bowles

Before my right hon. Friend replies, may I ask is this not a good argument for the immediate abolition of the House of Lords?

Mr. Morrison

I am only the Leader of this House. I am very sorry that this should have occurred, but I am told that the great bulk of the Amendments are of a drafting character or are agreed and that the number of really contentious ones is limited, so that while I express my regret, I do not think it causes the House too much inconvenience.

Mr. George Thomas

In view of the dates which my right hon. Friend has given to the House—that Prorogation will take place the first day we return and that the new Session will start the next day—may I ask him whether it is proposed to do without the Welsh Day which was promised for this Session?

Mr. Morrison

No, Sir We did give Welsh hon. Members an undertaking that there should be a Debate in the autumn and there will be, but it will have to be in the new Session. I submit that that does not make any material difference. The Debate will take place.

Mr. Kirkwood

Seeing that the majority of the House have made up their minds that they are going to reject all these Amendments, is there any necessity for discussing them?

Mr. Morrison

I follow the point of my hon. Friend, but he is a great admirer of the British Constitution and we must let this matter take its proper course.

Mr. Eden

May I be informed whether the Government have taken that decision, and, if so, cannot they just proceed with their rubber stamp?

Mr. Morrison

I never said so. I was only being polite and friendly to my hon. Friend, which is wise on my part.

Mr. Blackburn

May I ask the Lord President of the Council whether he will place on record the fact that this House has sat for two years and has never yet debated the best use of our scientific resources and manpower?

Mr. Morrison

That may be so—though I think the House has debated it. There was a long Adjournment Debate one day. I share my hon. Friend's wish that some day the Opposition may choose it for a Supply Debate.

Major Cecil Poole

May I ask the Leader of the House whether, in the discussions through the usual channels for Monday's Business, due recognition was taken of the fact that Monday's Debate on Germany and Austria must of necessity be carried on in a very unreal atmosphere, in view of the Business of the House for Wednesday and Thursday? Would it not be desirable to have further discussions through the usual channels with a view to selecting other Business for Monday, if possible, in view of the fact that we shall be debating Germany and Austria without this country's economic back-ground?

Mr. Morrison

The choice of subjects of debate in Supply is the historic and constitutional right of the Opposition and I do not want to interfere with them about it.

Sir T. Moore

As the Debate on Wednesday and Thursday may be, indeed, a "grand inquest," will the right hon. Gentleman consider suspending the Rule on Wednesday?

Mr. Morrison

I should have thought that if we had two normal Parliamentary days, that would really be enough, and we have some other Business we must fit in. It will be a difficult week and, therefore, I think it would be difficult to suspend the Rule.