HC Deb 08 December 1949 vol 470 cc2091-9
Mr. Eden

Can the Leader of the House tell us the Business for next week?

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

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

MONDAY, 12TH DECEMBER—Committee and remaining stages of the following Consolidation Measures: the Patents Bill [Lords], the Registered Designs Bill [Lords], the Vehicles (Excise) Bill [Lords], the Election Commissioners Bill [Lords], and the Air Corporations Bill [Lords].

Afterwards, time will be afforded for a Debate on a Motion relating to Gas shareholders compensation until 7 p.m.

Then a Debate will take place on the Motion relating to Cruelty and Neglect of Children, which appears on the Order Paper today in the names of my hon. Friend the Member for North Hendon (Mrs. Ayrton Gould), my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Mr. Hastings) and the noble Lord the Member for Horsham (Earl Winterton).

TUESDAY, 13TH DECEMBER—Report and Third Reading of the Justices of the Peace Bill [Lords].

Consideration of Motions relating to the continuance in force of Section 8 of the Emergency Laws (Transitional Provisions) Act, 1946, and of Regulation 76 of the Defence (General) Regulations, 1939; and of a Motion to approve the draft National Youth Employment Council and Advisory Committee for Scotland and Wales (Membership) Order.

WEDNESDAY, 14TH DECEMBER—Debate on the Cinematograph Film Industry which will arise on a Government Motion.

Consideration of Motion to approve the Draft Sale of Food (Weights and Measures Variation of First Schedule) Regulations.

THURSDAY, 15TH DECEMBER—There will be an opportunity on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House to debate the question of Nutrition, until 7 p.m.

Afterwards time will be given for the consideration of a Motion relating to the publication of the accounts of political parties.

FRIDAY, 16TH DECEMBER—Consideration of Lords Amendments or of any outstanding Business.

It is expected that Prorogation will take place later in the Sitting and that the new Session will be opened on Tuesday, 24th January, 1950.

Amendments are expected to be received from another place to certain Bills during the early part of next week and they will be put down for consideration on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.

Mr. Boothby

Can the right hon. Gentleman make any pronouncement with regard to the intentions of the Government in respect of the Sea Fish Industry Bill?

Mr. Morrison

I am afraid that we shall not be able to complete that Bill this Session, partly because of time and partly because it was found that some powers were needed for local authorities which would require a Financial Resolution and a re-committal. That added to the difficulty. I am sorry, but I am afraid that we cannot complete that Bill this Session.

Mr. Braddock

Has the Lord President had an opportunity of further considering the Motion on the Order Paper signed, I believe, by a record number of Members totalling 138, in connection with the disallowance of war damage claims? If he has had an opportunity of considering giving Parliamentary time to that, is he encouraged by the fact that he has been able to find time this afternoon for Motions that are on matters which are nothing like as old and, I venture to say, no more important than this one.

Earl Winterton

Is the Lord President aware that those of us who have been pressing for a Debate on the subject of cruelty to children are most grateful for the reward given to our pertinacity but entirely deny the point made by the last speaker?

Mr. Morrison

I am much obliged to the noble Lord. I am afraid that I cannot find time for the Motion to which my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. Braddock) referred. He is wrong in thinking that it is a record number of names. The hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) once nearly got a majority of the House. I still defied him.

Mr. Keeling

In order that Christmas harmony may not be disturbed by the prospect of an early election, will the Leader of the House give an assurance that between the Prorogation next week and the date fixed for the new Session to begin—24th January—Parliament will not be dissolved?

Mr. A. Edward Davies

Can my right hon. Friend tell us when we are going to have the draft of the Wool Textile Industry Development Council Order?

Mr. Morrison

I think that question had better be put to my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade.

Mr. E. P. Smith

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether, and if so when, the Government will give time for the Third Reading of one of the most enlightened Measures ever introduced into this Parliament, namely, the Censorship of Plays (Repeal) Bill, which has been passed through its other stages with only one slight Amendment?

Mr. Morrison

I seem to have heard about the adventures of this Bill, but I am very sorry to disappoint the hon. Member, whom I should like to oblige, but I do not see much prospect of our being able to afford time for that Bill this Session.

Mr. Harry Wallace

Is my right hon. Friend aware that his statement about a discussion on the publication of accounts of political parties will be received with great satisfaction by hon. Members of this House?

Colonel J. R. H. Hutchison

Does the right hon. Gentleman recognise the dissatisfaction felt in all parts of the House owing to the fact that only five and a half hours were given to the discussion of the accounts of the British Transport Commission, which covers no fewer than five major industries, and will he say what he is going to do to make available another opportunity for further Debate?

Mr. Morrison

This is a very ungrateful world. I really did make a special effort to enable the House to discuss as many of these public corporations and their affairs as possible, which I think it is important that we should do. I did try hard, and I thought somebody might give me a vote of thanks, instead of keeping on like this.

Miss Jennie Lee

Will the Lord President indicate when he will be able to implement the promise which he gave to the House last July to find time to introduce legislation providing compensation for damage to cottages owing to mining subsidence?

Mr. Morrison

That matter has not been overlooked, and the Government are exceedingly sympathetic about the point. We are seeing what can be done, but, obviously, it cannot be undertaken in the present Session.

Mr. Emrys Roberts

Can the Lord President tell the House when it is expected that the Report of the first year's working of the British Electricity Authority will be presented?

Mr. Morrison

I really do not know; I have not got the dates in mind, but I will look them up.

Mr. Bing

Can my right hon. Friend say, in view of the interest shown on all sides of the House in the tourist industry, and of the fact that this Motion really was signed by a record number of hon. Members, whether he can give any time at a convenient date in future for the discussion of a Motion on Tied houses which is at present standing on the Order Paper?

[That this House condemns the Tied Public House system, as at present operated, in that it deprives the customer of his freedom of choice of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages alike, tends to restrict the provision of food and accommodation, increases by monopolist practices the price of refreshments to the customer and does not furnish sufficient security of tenure to the publican; and that therefore this House calls upon His Majesty ' s Government to inquire into the Tied House system and other restrictive practices of Brewers and to introduce, where necessary, remedial legislation.]

Mr. Morrison

I am afraid I could not give any firm undertaking at this stage. I do realise that this is a matter upon which there is fairly extensive interest among hon. Members on all sides of the House; but, as my hon. Friend knows, after he and his hon. Friends put down their Motion, the brewers did offer to make a new type of agreement with their tenants. Perhaps he and his hon. Friends might consider whether we should not wait for a little while to see how it works out in practice and get some experience of it in a practical way.

Mr. Boothby

Does the Lord President not realise the satisfaction that would be given to the whole fishing industry by the dropping of that foolish Bill—the Sea Fish Industry Bill?

Mr. Morrison

I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's motives, but the net result is the same.

Mr. Blackburn

Can my right hon. Friend say whether, in view of the fact that this House has not debated what are probably the two most important events in the last 30 years—the collapse of China and the significance of the Soviet Union's development of the atomic bomb—he will say whether these most important events can form the subject of debate before the Dissolution?

Mr. Morrison

I do not know why hon. Gentlemen are worrying about Dissolution, but I appreciate my hon. Friend's point, and will see what can be done next Session.

Professor Savory

I should like to ask the Lord President of the Council whether, when a Private Member's Bill has attained a majority of two to one on Second Reading, and after various vicissitudes has got through the Standing Committee, is it not rather hard that the Government should refuse to provide time for its Third Reading? I am referring to the Bill for the abolition of the censorship on plays.

Mr. Morrison

I am surprised at the hon. Gentleman, because I have a high regard for his intelligence, but he surely should know that there was time set apart for the discussion of Private Members' Bills in the House and that it has expired. Therefore, he should not blame the Government, but should blame the House for having imposed this shattering limitation on Private Members' time.

Mr. Geoffrey Cooper

In view of the urgent need of the country for increased productivity, can my right hon. Friend give consideration to the possibility of a Debate on one of the most helpful means of increasing productivity—the subject of joint consultation?

Mr. Morrison

I think that would have been a worthy subject for discussion, but I fear that there is no time in the present Session.

Air-Commodore Harvey

Does the Lord President recall that the annual accounts of the Air Corporations, showing a loss of nearly £10 million, were published two months ago, and will he say when the House will have the opportunity of discussing this loss of the taxpayers' money?

Mr. Morrison

We had a discussion on the Air Corporations not so very long ago—

Air-Commodore Harvey


Mr. Morrison

We did, and I remember it, because I got ready for trouble, and trouble did not come; it became a damp squib. We really have not done so badly this Session on the socialised industries, and I am anxious that they should be debated, but we cannot expect every one of them to be debated in every Session of Parliament.

Mrs. Middleton

In view of the fact that my right hon. Friend has said that interest in the House was one criterion in the arrangement of Government business, is he aware that there is very great interest in the subject of war damage claims, and that many of us for the last two years have been trying to get an adequate discussion of this matter? In view of these facts, will he take some steps to give time at an early date for this business to be discussed?

Mr. Morrison

From my recollection, I am bound to say that the ingenuity of my hon. Friend and others has secured more than one discussion of this business, somehow or other.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

May I ask the Lord President, who has declined over a dozen requests for Debates on important matters this afternoon, how he expects to satisfy the House of the justice of his case if he does not indicate how long the next Session will last?

Mr. Morrison

It is obvious that it cannot last longer than somewhere about the summer.

Mr. Braddock

May I ask the Lord President if he does not consider that, when this House has passed a Private Members Bill through its Second Reading unopposed, and when it has passed its Report stage unopposed, that that is proof that this House and the country are taking a very great interest in that particular matter, which, in the case I am thinking of is that of war damage claims, and would he really reconsider this matter in view of the feeling that exists in the country?

Mr. Speaker

May I say that already two speakers have been cut out from the Debate which is to follow by reason of these supplementary questions. I think that, as it is an important matter that we are going to discuss, it would be better to get on to that Debate. If I may say so, it is a pure waste of time to ask questions on Government business especially when Parliament is to be prorogued tomorrow week, and everything is cut down. There is no point in these supplementaries.

Mr. Wyatt

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether the Government have in mind a debate on the Motion relating to the subject matter which was raised by the hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. E. P. Smith) with Mr. Speaker last week?

[That the matter of the complaint of the honourable Member for Ashford referred to in the statement of Mr. Speaker on Monday, 5th December, be referred to the Committee of Privileges.]

Mr. Speaker

It is not my business.

Lieut-Colonel Lipton

In view of the fact that the second subject announced for debate next Thursday night is not likely to raise any controversial issue, can the Lord President say whether he will find time for legislation requiring political parties to publish annual audited accounts?

Mr. Braddock

May I have a reply to my question?

Mr. Speaker

The Minister need not reply if he does not want to.