HC Deb 30 June 1949 vol 466 cc1522-6
Mr. Eden

May I ask the Lord President of the Council to 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, 4th July—Supply (19th allotted Day); Committee. Debate on housing in England and Wales.

Tuesday, 5th July—Supply (20th allotted Day); Committee. Debate on education in England and Wales.

Wednesday, 6th July—Report stage of the Finance Bill, being the first of two days which we propose for this stage of the Bill.

Consideration of Motions to approve Double Taxation Orders.

Thursday, 7th July—Supply (21st allotted Day); Committee. Debate on industry and employment in Scotland.

Friday, 8th July—Report and Third Readings of Private Members' Bills.

If there is time, Second Reading of the U.S.A. Veterans' Pensions (Administration) Bill [Lords] and, if agreeable to the House, the Committee and remaining stages; Report and Third Reading of the Colonial Loans Bill; and Committee and remaining stages of the Colonial Development and Welfare Bill.

Mr. Eden

Will the Lord President tell us when the Government propose to give time for a Debate on the Report issued yesterday by the Royal Commission on the Press?

Mr. Morrison

I anticipated that the House might wish to debate that report, and I think that there ought to be a Debate, because there is much to be said. [Interruption.] Let the Opposition not think that we shall be afraid of a Debate. We are ready for it, very ready, but I am afraid it cannot be this side of the Summer Recess unless a Supply Day is taken. We shall however be very willing to discuss the matter through the usual channels.

Mr. Eden

I am bound to say that the right hon. Gentleman's attitude about time is rather unreasonable. The Government found no difficulty whatever in finding time for the Motion to appoint the Commission when it was put down by hon. Members on the opposite side of the House, but if he cannot find Government time we certainly consider that this matter should be debated before the Summer Recess, and we shall be willing, but reluctant, to give a Supply Day for it.

Mr. Morrison

I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. We shall be there.

Mr. Thomas Brown

Arising out of the Report of the Select Committee, which was issued on 25th January last, when do the Government propose to introduce legislation to deal with compensation for mining subsidence?

Mr. Morrison

I recognise that it is an important matter, especially to hon. Members who represent mining Divisions, but we have not yet concluded our consideration of the matter, and I am afraid that we are not immediately ready to make a statement. I shall take the matter up with the Ministers concerned, however, and see what can be done about it.

Mr. Ronald Chamberlain

The Interim Report of the Committee on Leasehold Reform took the Committee 15 months to bring forward. I know it is a difficult matter, but we are now told that the Government will not announce any decision until the final report is received. Since the interim report deals with a clearly specified area of the matter, and since it is literally a matter of life and death for thousands of small businesses, will the Minister reconsider the whole matter or at least give us time to debate the interim report?

Mr. Morrison

I understand that a Question was put down about this matter, and that it was answered. I do not think that this is a matter which arises on the Business for the week.

Mr. Maclay

Is it proposed to give an opportunity at a reasonably early date for a discussion on the general economic situation? If so, will the right hon. Gentleman give the maximum possible notice of it because the subject is, to say the least, a difficult one?

Mr. Morrison

I cannot say anything about that at this moment. It may be that that question can more conveniently be put next week.

Mr. H. Hynd

Can my right hon. Friend arrange, as a matter of urgency, for the House to have an opportunity of discussing the Report on the political activities of civil servants before the rules are put into operation?

Mr. Morrison

The Chancellor has given an indication that the Government propose to accept the general purposes of the Report, and unless there were startling developments or comments about it, I think the matter might rest there. We had better see what comments are made.

Mr. Quintin Hogg

I am sorry to suggest yet another subject for debate, but will the right hon. Gentleman consider giving time for the House to consider the Report of the Royal Commission on Population?

Mr. Morrison

I will consider that, but to be quite frank, we are in difficulties about the time-table between now and the Summer Recess—we are bound to be, we cannot help that. I shall, however, keep the point in mind.

Mr. Kenneth Lindsay

I am sorry to suggest yet another subject. Is it likely or possible that we shall have a Debate on the Statute of Europe before the very important meeting at Strasbourg in August?

Mr. Morrison

I am afraid I cannot give an undertaking about that. I do not see a prospect of being able to give time for such a Debate. I thought that on the whole the House had received the announcement about the Statute and the general structure of the Council of Europe with broad satisfaction. I just do not see our being able to find a day for such a Debate between now and the Assembly.

Mr. Cobb

Could I hold one other subject before my right hon. Friend's dazzled eyes? The report of the committee on price maintenance is most important. Would it be possible to find time for a Debate on it?

Mr. Morrison

I am sorry, but I am afraid not.

Major Gates

As the country is anxious to see the National Parks Bill become law, could the Lord President say when the final stages of that Bill are likely to be taken?

Mr. Morrison

No, Sir. We have acted very promptly in regard to the National Parks Bill. So far as I know it will go through this Session, but I cannot say on what day.

Mr. Ernest Davies

In view of the Lord President's frequently expressed desire to have the reports of the nationalised industries debated in the House, when will my right hon. Friend give us time to discuss the recently issued report of the National Coal Board?

Mr. Morrison

I have that in mind. I quite agree that it is desirable that at any rate the outstanding reports of current interest should be debated. We have always been willing to make suitable arrangements with the Opposition about that, and I hope that there will at any rate be some debate about the socialised industries after the Summer Recess.

Earl Winterton

Can the right hon. Gentleman clarify a point of procedure about tomorrow's proceedings? The Minister of Labour said he might be in a position to make a statement. Will that take the form of an announcement or will the Adjournment of the House he moved in order that it can be discussed. There have been occasions in the past when such a Motion has been moved.

Mr. Morrison

It would, of course, be a matter for you, Mr. Speaker, as to whether facilities could be provided if it becomes expedient and desirable that my right hon. Friend should make a statement. I have no doubt that ways and means can be found, but matters of procedure are for you, Sir, rather than for me.

Mr. Speaker

We shall, of course, have to wait and see if the Minister is prepared to make any statement. Then I shall consider it.

Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

Reverting to the idea of another Debate on the Press, and speaking as one who voted against the establishment of the Royal Commission, will not my right hon. Friend agree that a mountain has gone into labour to produce a mouse; and will he please be a little "cagey" in accepting the blandishments of the Opposition in regard to staging another discussion in this House on this particular topic, because they will only use it to exercise more bias?

Mr. Morrison

With great respect, I do not see why hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House should be in the least afraid of it. I would suggest to my hon. Friend that he may have been misled by the headlines in a certain evening newspaper last night which even falsified the general purport of the Royal Commission's report.

Mr. Skeffington-Lodge

I am never misled by the Tory Press.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

So that we may follow the workings of his mind regarding the future time-table, would the Lord President now indicate when he proposes that the Summer Recess should take place?

Mr. Morrison

That is premature.

Mr. Martin Lindsay

If the right hon. Gentleman thinks that the newspaper falsified the report of the Commission does not he think that we should have another Commission to which that allegation could be put?