HC Deb 14 July 1949 vol 467 cc667-71
Mr. Eden

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

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

The Business for next week will be as follows:

Monday, 18th July—Conclusion of the Debate on the Economic Situation, which will arise on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House;

Committee stage of the Patents and Designs [Money] (No. 2) Resolution;

Second Reading of the Isle of Man (Customs) Bill;

Report stage of the Navy, Army and Air Force Expenditure, 1947–48.

Tuesday, 19th July—Report and Third Reading of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Bill.

Wednesday, 20th July—Supply (23rd allotted Day); Committee, Debate on Colonial Affairs;

Consideration of Amendments to the Housing Bill, which are expected to be received from another place today;

Consideration of Motion to approve the draft National Health Service (Superannuation) (Amendment) Regulations.

Thursday, 21st July—Supply (24th allotted Day); Committee.

Debate on a subject to be arranged after discussion through the usual channels.

Consideration of Motions to approve the Crop Acreage Payments Orders for England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Friday, 22nd July—Committee and remaining stages of the Isle of Man (Customs) Bill;

Report and Third Reading of the Patents and Designs Bill [Lords.]

During the week we shall ask the House to take the Report and Third Reading of the Airways Corporations Bill, if it is not obtained tomorrow.

A Bill will be presented, probably tomorrow, and made available to Members to amend the National Insurance Act, 1946, to permit contributions credited, as distinct from contributions paid, since 5th July, 1948, to rank as qualification for the death grant. We hope that it will be agreeable to the House to pass this Bill through all its stages during the course of next week.

Mr. Haydn Davies

Why is it that we are not to have a Debate on the Report of the Royal Commission on the Press next week? A fortnight ago the Opposition were demanding a Debate as a matter of urgency, and offered one of their Supply Days. Last week, I asked my right hon. Friend to give a day of Government's time in view of the Opposition's reluctance to press this matter. Am I to understand—

Mr. Speaker

This is a speech, not a question.

Mr. Davies

The question is: have the Opposition run away from their offer of a Supply Day, and, if they have, will my right hon. Friend give a Government day for a Debate, because we want it?

Mr. Morrison

I am beginning to share my hon. Friend's disappointment in this matter, because we were not only promised but threatened with a Debate, which, as I said at the time, I was very anxious we should have. Unhappily, I cannot give a day. The Opposition announced through the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, that they would devote a Supply Day to the subject; but there is a further week to go, and therefore it may be that it is still the intention of the Opposition that the Debate shall take place.

Mr. Eden

I must say that I think this is most ungracious behaviour by the Leader of the House. May I ask him to bear in mind that we have given up one of our Supply Days to allow a Debate to take place on this crisis, which we were assured by the Government, a few months ago, would not take place? We have given up a day which could perfectly well have been taken for a Debate on the Press. We have also given up one of our normal days for the Appropriation Bill in order to help the Government. That is two days given up, and all we get is an insult.

Mr. Morrison

I think that indignation is a bit out of proportion. The Government have given a day for the economic crisis as well, namely, next Monday. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I hope the Opposition will not lose their heads. The Opposition, through their Deputy Leader, not only said they would give us a Supply Day but almost imposed and threatened us with a Supply Day in order to debate the Report of the Royal Commission on the Press. Therefore, I think it is legitimate for my hon. Friend to exercise some curiosity about the matter.

Mr. Eden

May I be allowed to remind the right hon. Gentleman that I never said we would not have this Debate before the end of the Session? I only responded to the imputation that we had behaved badly in this matter. I now give the right hon. Gentleman notice that we will have the Debate on the day of the Appropriation Bill.

Mr. Gallacher

In view of the right hon. Gentleman's statement that the Business for Thursday will be decided through the usual channels, may I ask him to consider inviting the representatives of the Communist Party and the Independent Labour group to participate in these discussions?

Mr. Morrison

I am very doubtful whether either of them is a channel, or usual, or useful.

Mr. Henry Strauss

When the right hon. Gentleman said that the Government could not give a day for discussion of the Press Report, can he inform the House what, if anything, he meant?

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that yesterday a day was "pinched" from Scotland, and that as a result the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill was indefinitely postponed?

Mr. Morrison

I am not quite sure, but we shall do our best to take care of it.

Mr. Michael Foot

Are we to understand from the exchange which has taken place about the Report of the Royal Commission on the Press that the Debate will take place in the Opposition's time, next Thursday? Is it not a fact that this delay has been a great advantage in the sense that it has given the Opposition time to read the Report?

Mr. Charles Smith

Can the Lord President indicate whether there is any possibility, before the Recess, of a discussion on the Motion standing in my name and that of my hon. Friend on the recommendations of the Masterman Committee on the political activities of civil servants?

[That this House, while welcoming the action of the Government in accepting those recommendations of the Masterman Committee on the Political Activities of Civil Servants which expand the freedom of the minor and manipulative grades and of industrial civil servants, regrets the acceptance of those recommendations which take away much civil liberty that custom and departmental rules have given in the past to the remaining grades in the service; and urges the reconsideration, in consultation with the staff side of the National Whitley Council, of the extent to which concessions recommended by the committee for the minor and manipulative grades may be extended in the service.]

Mr. Morrison

I do not think there will be time for that. In any case, if there is to be a discussion I think it would be better if the matter were taken up by the staff side of the Whitley Council with the Treasury.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood

In view of the uncertainty which has been caused by the decision to wind up the Local Government Boundary Commission, will my right hon. Friend try to find time for a discussion on local government before the House rises?

Mr. Morrison

I do not think that is at all likely before the House rises, but there is to be a Bill on the matter, which will provide occasion for a Debate, although I do not think it can come up until after the Summer Recess.

Mr. Platts-Mills

Since the right hon. Gentleman invited me and my hon. Friends to show him our usefulness, may I draw his attention to the Motion on the Order Paper in relation to the railwaymen's pay claim?

[That this House, recognising the justice of the railwaymen's claim for an increase of 10s. per week, calls upon the Government to introduce legislation to reduce the compensation payable to former railway shareholders so as to make it easier for the Railway Executive to grant this claim.]

Although we are all delighted that the railwaymen's problems are not on the front pages of the Press, I beg the Lord President to remember that they are still vital, and likely to be back again on the front pages of the papers. May we have a Debate on this matter before a demand for further emergency regulations arises?

Mr. Morrison

I understand that this has been referred to an appropriate body for discussion. I think that on the whole it had better be left to the usual channels of trade union negotiations, rather than have hon. Members with considerable legal qualifications, barging in on the matter.

Ordered: That this day Business other than the Business of Supply may be taken before Ten o'clock."—[The Prime Minister.]