HC Deb 06 November 1947 vol 443 cc2010-5
Mr. Eden

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

Mr. H. Morrison

The Business for next week will be as follows:

Monday, 10th November, and Tues-day, nth November—Second Reading of the Parliament Bill.

Wednesday, 12th November—My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will open his Supplementary. Budget.

Thursday, 13th November—General debate on the Budget Resolutions.

Friday, 14th November—Committee and remaining stages of the Burma Independence Bill.

Mr. Nigel Birch

On the Budget, may I ask the Lord President of the Council whether, in view of the great importance and desire that the people of this country shall understand the A.B.C. of the crisis and its genesis, he will consider the desirability of making representations to the B.B.C. that, following the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget broadcast, there shall be a replay of his previous Budget broadcast?

Mr. Ellis Smith

May I ask the Prime Minister whether he will consider the advisability of withdrawing the Parliament Bill, on the ground that it conflicts with the fundamental policy of the Labour movement of this country. Is it becoming, 47 years after Campbell-Bannerman, to introduce such a puny Measure as this?

Mr. S. Silverman

May I ask the Leader of the House whether advantage will be taken of the presence in this country of the Secretary of State for the Colonies to consult with the House about the present position in Palestine and the problems that arise out of the United Nations Report, the proceedings of the Assembly and His Majesty's Government's announced intention to withdraw troops from that country? Is Parliament to be taken into consultation now that the Secretary of State for the Colonies is here?

Mr. Morrison

I understand that the matter is still under consideration by the Assembly. A definite stage has not yet been reached, and I think a Debate here would be premature and inconvenient at the moment.

Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew

I presume that the Lord President has had time to study the last Report of the Statutory Rules and Orders Committee, and has probably noticed that they recommend that when a rule-making authority cites the parent Act it should not only cite that Act, but also the Section or Schedule. People who are interested in these matters have to do an enormous amount of research to find the exact authority under which the Order is made, and I think it would be easier if the right bon. Gentleman would give the necessary instruction to the Department.

Mr. Morrison

I am much obliged to the hon. and gallant Gentleman. Prima facie, he is on a proper point, and I will take it up with the Departments.

Mr. Silverman

Reverting to the question I asked a few moments ago, does not my right hon. Friend realise that the decision to withdraw from Palestine has nothing whatever to do with the proceedings in the Assembly, and will create problems of itself with which this House is rightly concerned? Ought not the House to be given a statement, so that we know what the Government's policy is and can have an opportunity of discussing its consequences?

Mr. Stanley

I think that all of us realise that this is a very difficult and delicate subject, but we are rather frightened that we shall be told that the time is not opportune for Debate until a final decision has been taken, so that a Debate then will have no influence on what will happen in the future. I believe it is worth condering whether it would not be useful for the House to debate the matter before the final view of His Majesty's Government is expressed at U.N.O.

Mr. Morrison

I think the representatives of the Government at U.N.O. must take the responsibility of declaring the Government's view—as, indeed, they have done; but we do not know what the outcome of the Assembly's deliberations will be, and that outcome may conceivably have an influence on the policy of His Majesty's Government. With great respect, I still think that it would not be convenient, at this stage, to have a Debate which may complicate, rather than ease, the situation.

Mr. McGovern

Would it not be useful to have such a Debate, so that the Government would know that the people of this country expect British troops to be brought out of Palestine this year?

Mr. Morrison

I can assure my hon. Friend that the Government are conscious of the degree of feeling which exists in the country.

Lieut.-Commander Gurney Braithwaite

On next week's Budget, the right hon. Gentleman said that it would be introduced on Wednesday, and that on Thursday there would be a general Debate on the Resolutions. In view of the decision which the House reached in the small hours of yesterday, that the Report stage of Budget Resolutions is to be abolished, will any further time be allocated for a general discussion on the Budget?

Mr. Morrison

The hon. and gallant Member is right in assuming that the Standing Order approved by the House will operate forthwith. Next week's discussion will, of course, be a more limited affair than the Debate on the normal annual Budget, but there will be opportunity for further debate next week.

Mr. Nally

My right hon. Friend will recollect that on Thursday last the House had the serious and solemn duty of deciding that two of its Members had been guilty of dishonourable conduct, but, that owing to the nature of the Business, we were unable, at any time in our discussion, to make reference to those who had benefited from that dishonour and had connived in it. I now ask my right hon. Friend whether he will take into account the desirability of discussing at the earliest possible date, either in terms of the Motion already on the Order Paper, or by another Motion, those circumstances, thereby giving this House an opportunity of at least arriving at a decision, for future guidance, which will avoid the events which constituted last week's proceedings?

[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 if such person shall be the representative of a newspaper or of a Press agency, that person and any other representative of the same newspaper or agency shall, if the House think fit, be excluded from the precincts of this House, until this House shall otherwise determine.]

Mr. Morrison

As my hon. Friend knows, I recommended the House to adjourn the Debate on this Motion last week owing to the lateness of the hour. I entirely agree with him that we cannot leave that aspect of the matter where it is. I said then that my proposal to adjourn the Debate was entirely without prejudice to this issue being decided, and it is the intention of the Government to find time for it as soon as possible.

Mr. Dumpleton

Will my right hon. Friend consider giving the House an early opportunity to discuss the future progress of housing in relation to adjustments of capital expenditure?

Mr. Speaker

We are really discussing the Business for next week, but it appears that we are discussing the Government's programme for the whole of the Session.

Mr. Malcolm MacMillan

While not seriously entertaining the suggestion made earlier by the hon. Member for Flint (Mr. Birch), may I ask my right hon. Friend whether, in order to clarify the position on the House of Lords issue, he will arrange for a broadcast of some of the speeches made by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill) 40 years ago?

Mr. Mikardo

Is my right hon. Friend satisfied that he gave a complete answer to the question by the right hon. Member for West Bristol (Mr. Stanley) about Palestine? Is it not a fact that U.N.O. is discussing most international issues at some time or other, and would not this be a case for the House never having a Debate on any question relating to foreign affairs? Since my right hon. Friend says that the Government will be influenced by the views of other members of U.N.O., ought not the Government to be willing to be influenced by the views of this House?

Mr. Morrison

As to there never being a Debate on foreign affairs, or Palestine, there could have been one on the Address if the Opposition had chosen to use their time in that way. They did not choose, and that is the answer.

Mr. Eden

We all realised the difficulty of the international situation and that it would have been wrong to use our time to discuss this matter on the Address. I think the right hon. Gentleman is being a little ungenerous. We did not take the opportunity, because we thought it would be embarrassing from the point of view of the nation and the Government as a whole, but what we want to know is whether Parliament will have an opportunity of expressing a view before the Government announce their final decision?

Mr. Morrison

If it was embarrassing then it is embarrassing now. The matter was then before U.N.O., and, with great respect, I cannot give an undertaking to the House that it will be debated before the Government indicate their final view to the Assembly, as they have already done in a preliminary sense.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Cuthbert Headlam

Does the right hon. Gentleman propose to answer the question about the Parliament Bill which has been raised from the other side of the House?

Mr. Zilliacus

Since there is no foreign affairs Debate next week, can the Leader of the House say whether there will be such a Debate before the" Conference of Foreign Ministers takes place on 25th November?

Mr. Morrison

I cannot be sure.

Mr. Janner

Will not my right hon. Friend reconsider his decision about a Debate on Palestine, because it is an important question of the possible termination of the Mandate and the method by which that is to be implemented? It will not brook further delay, when U.N.O. is discussing proposals in a practical manner.

Mr. Morrison

I cannot add to what I have already said on this subject.