HC Deb 13 November 1947 vol 444 cc552-6
Mr. Eden

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

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

The Business for next week will be as follows:

Monday, 17th November—Conclusion of the general debate on the Budget.

Tuesday, 18th November—Second Reading of the Local Government Bill.

Wednesday, 19th November—Report stage of the Budget Resolutions; Conclusion of the debate on the Second Reading of the Local Government Bill and Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution by about 6.30 p.m. Afterwards, we shall begin the Committee stage of the Emergency Laws (Transitional Provisions) Bill.

Thursday, 20th November—Conclusion of the Committee stage of the Emergency Laws (Transitional Provisions) Bill; and Committee and remaining stages of the Jersey and Guernsey (Financial Provisions) Bill.

Friday, 21st November—Second Reading of the Ceylon Independence Bill; and, if there is time, Second Reading of the Housing (Temporary Accommodation) Bill and Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

Mr. Clement Davies

May I ask the Leader of the House a question with regard to the issue recently, I think on 11th November, of a very drastic and important order relating to the direction of labour. My hon. Friends and I have put down a Prayer against it. Ordinarily, I realise, Mr. Speaker, that a Debate on that Prayer would occur at the end of Business, but it seems to me that it is not the kind of matter that ought to be debated at the end of a long day, possibly in the early hours of the morning. Would it be possible for the Leader of the House to give a special day for this, because it affects the freedom of the people?

Mr. Morrison

I think that this order is in a different category from the Control of Engagement Order which we recognised raised substantial and debatable issues. I do not think this one is quite in that category. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I said that I did not think it was altogether in that category, and I do not. On the face of it, I can hardly think that it is necessary to provide special time. On the other hand, if there is an opportunity of adjusting the Business of the House, we will consider it through the usual channels.

Mr. Davies

Is the Minister aware that this goes far further, and raises the question of sanctions?

Mr. Morrison

This is an order to get adequate registration of certain types of people, known as spivs and drones, and I do not think it is in quite the same class as the other one, but we will be willing to consider it through the usual channels. On the face of it, I do not think there is a prima facie case for special time.

Mr. Ellis Smith

May I ask the Prime Minister two brief questions of a rather urgent character that may affect the arrangement of Business next week? Has his attention been directed to the serious statement made at Washington this week by Mr. Lewis Douglas, in which he stated that he had assurances that, with the change in the Minister, there would be a change in policy, and, secondly, that it would be necessary to introduce troops into the mining industry? Has any assurance been given to Mr. Douglas on this matter, and have any conversations taken place? If so, will he arrange that Parliament should be consulted or informed as soon as possible?

The Prime Minister

This does not seem to me, Mr. Speaker, with respect, to be a question arising out of Business. If there are any questions on it, I think that they should be put on the Order Paper.

Commander Galbraith

Will the right hon. Gentleman give time for discussion of a Motion in the name of my right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the Scottish Universities (Lieut.-Colonel Elliot) and 27 other Scottish Members, in relation to the Sessional Order to allow for the full discussion of the Scottish Estimates, and for that purpose that they be remitted to the Standing Committee on Scottish Bills?

Mr. Morrison

I am afraid that I cannot undertake to give time at present.

Commander Galbraith

In view of the very great importance of this question, would the right hon. Gentleman make a statement on the subject?

Mr. Morrison

That is matter, which it would be better to put to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

When may we expect the statement indicating the cuts in capital expenditure that will be applied in Scotland, in conformity with the general programme of the Government?

Mr. Morrison

I do not know that there is a separate list for Scotland, but the paper is under consideration, and I imagine that it will be published at a not too distant date.

Mr. Henry Strauss

Is it not a fact that the new order to which the Leader of the Liberal Party referred covers all artists, writers, and research workers on their own account, and does the Leader of the House wish to describe those people as spivs and drones?

Mr. Morrison

I am not making any aspersions on anybody. I only say that the primary purpose of this order is to know—[HON. MEMBERS: "Spivs and drones."] I mentioned spivs and drones. Why should I not? There are too many spivs and drones knocking about.

Mr. Churchill

The worst are on the right hon. Gentleman's benches.

Mr. Morrison

The right hon. Gentleman should not invite possible retaliatory observations. The order wants to know who is who in this field and I cannot see that there is anything very shocking in that, or that it is in the same category as the other order, the Control of Engagement Order.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Reverting to my previous question to the Prime Minister, is my right hon. Friend aware that it would be out of Order to put questions such as he suggested on the Order Paper, and, therefore, will he consider giving an early reply because of the serious nature of the issues involved?

Mr. Speaker

If it is not in Order to put those questions on the Order Paper it is hardly in Order to ask them during consideration of the Business for next week.

Mr. Ellis Smith

According to Standing Order No. 7 Members have the right, in the arrangements for the Business for the next week, to put questions of this character, and I am asking the Prime Minister—

Mr. Speaker

Questions relating to the Business for next week as a whole, and not on the Business of the Session as a whole.

Mr. Ellis Smith

This arises out of a very serious statement made in the States this week, and the House is entitled to know whether any commitments were made to a representative of the United States before we pass from next week's Business. I would ask the Prime Minister to consider it.

The Prime Minister

I think that this is quite out of Order on the Business for next week.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

In regard to the question by the Leader of the Liberal Party, is the Leader of the House aware that when his right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour announced his intention to take this action, he fairly admitted that it raised one question of great difficulty with reference to persons with a conscientious objection to registration? In those circumstances, should not the House be given an opportunity to discuss this matter at a proper hour of the day and not be forced to do it in the middle of the night?

Mr. Morrison

This is a Prayer against the Order. Facilities will, of course, be given in the ordinary way, but, as I said, we can consider if there can be any adjustment of Business which I am willing to consider through the usual channels. However, we must not get into the habit of thinking that for every Prayer special time should be given. I cannot undertake to do that.

Mr. Gallacher

Is the Minister aware that Scottish Members on the opposite side of the House are cutting out Scottish Members on this side, including me, as spokesmen for Scotland, since the General Election, and can he advise me whether they will get any more satisfaction than we on this side got on Scottish questions?

Mr. Maclay

It is with great diffidence that I put this question because it might be out of Order, but I am anxious to correct what might be a very damaging inference arising out of the remarks of the hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. Ellis Smith). He used the word "troops" as having a certain meaning, whereas any one who has read the statement to which he was referring would know that in using the word "troops" Mr. Douglas had no intention of conveying that soldiers would be put into the mines?

Mr. Sydney Silverman

On a point of Order. Arising out of this question would it be in Order to ask the Leader of the House whether, having regard to the serious implications in this matter, he can afford a short time next week to have if taken up?

Mr. Morrison

I will be quite honest, I have not seen the statement and I think, as it is a subject which involves a friendly foreign country—I am not sure whether it would improve the situation if it involved an unfriendly foreign country—that I ought not to commit myself.

Mr. Speaker

I think it is better to get on with Business now.