HC Deb 05 February 1948 vol 446 cc1909-14
Mr. Eden

May I ask the Leader of the House if he has any statement to make about the Business for today, especially in relation to the Leather Order, and also the Business for next week?

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

The right hon. Gentleman is moving far too far to the Left. The Leather Order is not today; it was yesterday and was finished. [Interruption.] Yes, I have been told something about it, but I could not quite follow it. The Leather Order was on the Order Paper last night, and was called in the ordinary way, but the Opposition did not function. Consequently, the affirmative Motion went through, as it was perfectly entitled to do, and there it is. I do not see what we can do about it. I did understand that some arrangement had been made whereby there could be a discussion on the Motion for the Adjournment tonight, in the ordinary way at the ordinary Adjournment time, and, if that is so, it is quite all right, but I could not accept responsibility for a situation in which, if the Opposition slips up and fails in its job, I am to be expected to put it right. I cannot do that.

Mr. Eden

I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman takes the matter in that way. I received an intimation through the usual channels that the Government were willing that a discussion should take place, and I asked my question in order to give the right hon. Gentleman an opportunity to make an answer. Since he has adopted this tone, may I remind the right hon. Gentleman that the reason why no Member of the Opposition got up last night was because the Minister indicated that he had a statement to make?

Mr. Morrison

I understand that that is disputed. If, of course, the time for the Motion for the Adjournment comes somewhat earlier tonight, that will be all right, and it certainly will leave greater time. I really must not be held responsible, however, for a situation in which, if the Opposition Member is not there and did not rise promptly in his place when the matter was called, I should be expected to give facilities to put the matter right.

Mr. Eden

I was not holding the right hon. Gentleman responsible for anything, but merely asking a question, in accordance with the arrangements through the usual channels, and I think he might have been a little more courteous in his reply.

Mr. Morrison

The Business for next week will be as follows:

Monday, 9th February.—A Debate will take place on the National Health Service on the Motion standing on the Order Paper in the names of my right hon. Friends the Minister of Health and the Secretary of State for Scotland; and consideration of the Motion to approve the draft National Health Service (Scotland) (Superannuation) Regulations.

Tuesday, 10th February, and Wednesday, 11th February.—Second Reading of the Gas Bill and Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

Thursday, 12th February.—Supply (1st allotted Day)—Motion to move Mr. SPEAKER out of the Chair, to which an Amendment will be proposed by the Opposition relating to the Statement on Personal Incomes, Costs and Prices. This day is being arranged at the request of the Opposition under the new Supply Standing Order.

Friday, 13th February.—Report and Third Reading of the Cinematograph Films Bill; and, if there is time, further progress will be made with the Police Pensions Bill and the Army and Air Force (Women's Service) Bill.

Mr. Eden

Perhaps I might say about Thursday's Business that it is to enable a Debate to take place on the Government White Paper. As regards Monday, may I ask a question? I understand that the Government are allocating time for that Debate, and that it will not come out of our time. May I put this point to the Leader of the House? As I understand it, the doctors are now voting in accordance with the decision which this House took, and most of them will probably have voted. Would it not be wise and more appropriate if we held our discussion after the voting had been concluded?

Mr. Morrison

It is a fair point of argument, and, as the right hon. Gentleman says, the voting is in process. I believe it actually started last week-end, and it may be that by Monday it will be well on the way. There was a lot to be said for having the Debate earlier, if it could have been arranged, but that could not be done. I do not see that there is really any objection to taking this on Monday because of that consideration. I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman that this is a Debate which was not arranged at the request of the Opposition; that the pressure was rather from the Government side of the House, and that, therefore, it is a day which should come out of Government time.

Sir Wavell Wakefield

Could the Leader of the House say when there will be a Debate on the nationalised civil aviation services, in view of the great losses which have been incurred and the great burden on the taxpayers?

Mr. Morrison

I did intimate that we were agreeable that there should be such a Debate, but discussions may take place through the usual channels, because we must arrange how, when, and in what form we are to debate the socialised industries. There is much good will on the matter, and I understand that the usual channels are expecting that a settlement may be reached.

Mr. Harold Davies

Will my right hon. Friend tell me if he would give an early opportunity for the House to discuss the Colonies, especially in relation to the Foreign affairs Debate which we had recently, and in which we discussed the relationship of the Colonies to Western Union, because I believe that this House has too few opportunities to discuss the Colonies?

Mr. Morrison

It all depends what is arranged on the Supply Day in regard to the Colonies, but I do not think we could make a special time, especially in view of the fact that the Western countries of Europe and the situation there were so recently discussed.

Mr. Henry Strauss

May I ask a question regarding Monday's Debate? It seems probable that both the Minister and other speakers, of various views, may wish to refer to the meetings between the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health and the Negotiating Committee of the medical profession. The question I want to put is this—Was any shorthand note taken of those proceedings, and, if the answer is "yes," will a transcript be made available to hon. Members of this House?

Mr. Morrison

To be quite frank, I do not know whether a shorthand note was taken or not, but I am afraid it would be impracticable to provide such a note between now and the Debate.

Mr. Nally

May I call the attention of my right hon. Friend to the Motion stand- ing in my name and the names of many of my hon. Friends on the subject of Betting and Gambling?

[That this House deplores the great anomalies of existing law in relation to betting and gambling of all kinds, regards with anxiety the uncontrolled growth in recent years of the gambling industry as particularly evidenced by the football pools, observes with alarm the absence of adequate protection for the public against profiteering and malpractices, and urges His Majesty's Government to proceed at once with a detailed investigation of the whole subject having special regard to the possible use of gambling revenues for useful social purposes such as the encouragement of British amateur and professional sport, and to introduce as soon as possible legislation designed to secure the reorganisation of betting and gambling on commonsense lines.]

In view of the fact that there is widespread public interest among people of all points of view as to the general development of the betting and gambling industry, will my right hon. Friend try to provide time for a Debate on this Motion?

Mr. Morrison

I am sorry, but I am afraid I do not see the possibility at the moment of providing special time for a Debate on that Motion.

Colonel Sir Charles MacAndrew

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if, in view of the Debate before Christmas about the Members' Fund, he has any idea when legislation will be introduced?

Mr. Morrison

The Government have taken proper note of the Debate which took place a little while ago. The matter is actively under consideration, and, if possible, we will present a Bill to the House in accordance with what I conceive to be the wishes of the House on that matter.

Mr. George Thomas

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether it is the intention of the Government to give the House an opportunity of discussing the Resolutions of U.N.E.S.C.O., in view of the importance of keeping public opinion in this country informed on these matters?

Mr. Morrison

I do not see any possibility of providing special facilities, though the matter could be discussed on the Education Estimates.

Sir Hugh Lucas-Tooth

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Debate on Monday will be wide enough to cover the negotiations between the Minister of Health and the dentists, which have also broken down?

Mr. Morrison

A Motion is on the Paper; it is for Mr. Speaker to rule. My own impression is that it will be wide enough to cover that point.

Mr. Keeling

In view of the statement by the Secretary of State for War just before Christmas that there is nothing to prevent the House from discussing the White Paper on land for the Services if it so desires, will the Leader of the House say whether the Government intend to put down a Motion to approve the White Paper?

Mr. Morrison

My impression was that there was a fair amount of Debate on the War Damage Bill. We had not contemplated putting down a special Motion on this point. I thought that we had fairly reasonably, although not fully, I agree, covered that ground.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

May I remind the right hon. Gentleman that the Secretary of State for War intervened in that Debate to make a statement which did not deal with what was contained in the Bill, and that the Debate on the subject was expressly reserved for a future occasion. In view of that, will not he provide an opportunity for debating the White Paper?

Mr. Morrison

I had better look it up.

Mr. Janner

In view of the situation which has risen in regard to the differences between the United Nations Commission on Palestine and His Majesty's Government and the difficulty of the position, will my right hon. Friend give the House every opportunity to discuss that matter, because it is also urgent.

Mr. Morrison

I hardly think that to be reasonable. It was only recently that the House had a special two days' Debate on Palestine.