HC Deb 12 June 1947 vol 438 cc1345-9
Mr. Eden

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

Mr. H. Morrison

Before I deal with the Business for next week, will the House permit me to say with what very deep regret all of us, in all parts of the House, have noticed that it was necessary for the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition to undergo an operation, and with what delight we have read that the operation has been a success? We all hope to see him back soon with his accustomed vigour, and that everything will be completely successful.

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

Mr. Morrison

The Business proposed to be taken next week is as follows:

On Monday, 16th June, and Tuesday, 17th June—Conclusion of the Committee stage of the Finance Bill.

On Wednesday, 18th June—Supply (5th Allotted day); Committee; Debate on Housing in Scotland.

On Thursday, 19th June—Supply (6th Allotted day); Committee; Debate on Foreign Policy in Europe.

On Friday, 20th June—Second Reading of the Agriculture (Emergency Payments) Bill, and Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

During the week it is hoped that there will be an opportunity to obtain the Committee and remaining stages of the Public Offices (Site) Bill; the Second Reading of the Probation Officers (Superannuation) Bill, and to make further progress with the Penicillin Bill [Lords].

Mr. Eden

May I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his opening statement, which it will give me great pleasure to convey to my right hon. Friend who, I was glad to hear an hour or two ago, is going on very well after an excellent night.

As regards next week's Business, may I put a question to the right hon. Gentleman about Thursday, the subject for which has been put down at the Opposition's request as it is a Supply Day? Is he aware that we had it in mind that we would not on this occasion debate the administration of Germany, but rather foreign affairs in general, and we hoped it might be possible at a later date to make a day available for the problems of administration in Germany, so as not to confuse political issues with administrative questions.

Mr. Morrison

I am sure that any question of further Debate on Germany can, of course, be discussed through the usual channels.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

I wish to raise the question of Scottish affairs. We are to have one Supply Day for a Debate next week, and I gather only one further day will be available this Session for the discussion of Scottish business. That is not sufficient. In the last few weeks we have had issued a very important White Paper on the economic position of Scotland, and I think it is the desire of all Scottish Members to have a special day allotted by the Government to the discussion of that supremely important matter.

Mr. Morrison

It is quite customary—it is a matter for the Opposition—for two clays to be taken on Scottish Supply, and often for two subjects to be taken. The White Paper has been published as a matter of convenience to Scottish Members and for the information of the people of Scotland. There is no obligation on the Government to provide facilities to debate every White Paper that is issued, but it was understood right the way through that if a Debate were desired on the White Paper it would be taken on one or other of the Supply Days.

Mr. J. S. C. Reid

Does not the Lord President remember that a day was given out of Government time for England, and a day was given out of Government time for Wales? Surely, a day ought to be given out of Government time for Scotland? May I further ask him to reconsider this matter, because this White Paper involves a large number of Departments and is not a suitable subject for a Supply Day. Furthermore, if the Opposition were to devote one of the two Scottish Supply Days to this White Paper, it would mean that there would be no discussion this year at all of the very important matters of Scottish education, Scottish agriculture, or Scottish fisheries. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give Scotland a little more of a show than he has sometimes given in the past.

Mr. Morrison

The right hon. and learned Gentleman is all wrong about his facts. The three days' Debate on the economic situation was about the United Kingdom, and Scottish Members were perfectly free to put the situation about Scotland as were Welsh Members about Wales, and I am sure they did so. The Welsh day was specially given because Wales has no Estimates at all that can be debated, and, therefore, in some way some special provision ought to be made. I think it is for the representatives of Scotland themselves to make up their minds about the use that can be made of the two Supply Days customarily given to Scotland; I am sure they appreciate that the publication of the White Paper gives a lot of valuable information about the economic situation in Scotland.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the possibility of suspending the Rule for an hour or so next Thursday, to allow a few more back benchers to speak?

Mr. Morrison

I should like to meet my hon. and gallant Friend, but during the week some minor Measures have to be taken, and it may be that some of them will have to be taken at night so I am afraid I cannot give an undertaking about the matter.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Returning to the subject of Scottish Business, the right hon. Gentleman said that the previous White Paper was a United Kingdom matter and that, therefore, we as Scottish Members could have discussed matters affecting Scotland. A White Paper in regard to Scotland we knew was to come out in the near future, and we held our fire until we knew what was in that White Paper. Because the previous Debate was a United Kingdom one does not seem to me to be a reason why we should be debarred from having a Scottish day, especially as the White Paper which is published discusses Scottish affairs.

Mr. Morrison

I was not here, but my recollection is that Scottish Members did take part in the Debate as I think they usually do on United Kingdom topics as they have every right to do. As regards the hon. and gallant Member for Perth and Kinross (Colonel Gomme-Duncan) I would give this hint to him—and he can follow it or not as he chooses—that he should try to persuade the leaders of his party on the Front Bench opposite themselves to choose a third Supply Day in respect of Scotland.

Mr. McKinlay

Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise that he is under an obligation to the 37 Scottish Labour Members, and that we resent the suggestion that it should be left to our opponents to provide a day to discuss Scottish affairs.

Mr. Morrison

In my capacity as Leader of the House I have got obligations to the whole House, and I have to do things as best I can, but I see my hon. Friend's point. This right of choosing the subject of Debate on a Supply day is a traditional right of the Opposition, and I think it is right from the Parliamentary point of view as they are the minority and this is a means of challenging the executive administration of the Government of the day.

Mr. David Eccles

Will the Government give a day to debate the statement on equal pay?

Mr. Morrison

I do not think that is necessary.

Mr. Warbey

Reverting to Thursday's Debate on foreign policy, I cannot, of course, interfere with any ideas the official Opposition may have on the subject, but I wonder if the Leader of the House will take into account the need to have as soon as possible a Debate on the dollar situation, or in other words a Debate on foreign economic policy, which I do not think we have really had. We ought to have it fairly soon.

Mr. Morrison

I think it would be premature at the moment.

Mr. Gallacher

Would the Leader of the House not consider if it is necessary to suspend the Standing Order for Wednesday, because it might be that very many Scottish Members would want to participate in that Debate.

Mr. Chetwynd

Would the Leader of the House consider giving a day to discussing the recent Select Committee Estimates Report on Development Areas and then perhaps Scottish Members would say what they want to say on Scottish industry?

Mr. Morrison

I will be frank with the House. I cannot see any spare days knocking about at the moment because of the Business we have in hand.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

I am sorry to have to press this Scottish matter but I must refer to it again as it is important for us. Does the Leader of the House recognise that the economic situation in Scotland is much worse proportionately than in England, and that all Members of all parties in Scotland are experiencing the gravest concern? The question of the economic White Paper is not one that could be suitably brought up on any of the two Supply Days, and even if it were brought up on such an occasion we would thereby neglect one or more of the half dozen major topics which every Government in the past has given this House an opportunity to discuss. Is it that the real object of the Government is to neglect Scottish affairs?

Mr. Morrison

I quite appreciate the political tactics which are being followed by the hon. Gentleman, and it really does not worry me. If the hon. Gentleman feels so deeply about the economic situation in Scotland, that is all the more reason why a second Supply Day should be used for the purpose.