HC Deb 10 November 1949 vol 469 cc1407-14
Mr. Churchill

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he has any statement to make about 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, 14TH NOVEMBER—Consideration of a Procedure Motion relating to the Committee stage of the Parliament Bill;

Committee stage and Third Reading of the Parliament Bill.

TUESDAY, 15TH NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Distribution of German Enemy Property Bill;

Second Reading of the Public Works Loans Bill;

Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolutions.

WEDNESDAY, 16TH NOVEMBER—Consideration of the Lords Reason for insisting on certain of their Amendments to the Iron and Steel Bill;

Second Reading of the following Consolidation Bills—Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Bill [Lords], and Marriage Bill [Lords.]

THURSDAY, 17TH NOVEMBER—Debate on Foreign Affairs on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House.

FRIDAY, 18TH NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Charity of Walter Stanley in West Bromwich Bill;

Committee and remaining stages of the War Damaged Sites Bill;

Committee and remaining stages of the Married Women (Restraint upon Anticipation) Bill [Lords.]

Mr. Churchill

Am I right in assuming that discussions through the usual channels would suggest that nuts will come on the week after next?

Mr. Morrison

Yes, Sir. That matter has been dealt with, as the right hon. Gentleman requested last week, and we are making arrangements for it to be taken the week after next.

Mr. John Paton

May I ask my right hon. Friend if, in view of the very many important questions that have to be discussed in the foreign affairs Debate, he thinks that one day is enough?

Mr. Morrison

I have not got any more time, and foreign affairs Debates do take place fairly frequently over the year. I am not complaining, because they are important. I thought that one day was about right this time, and, in any case, I am afraid that I have not got the extra time.

Mr. M. Philips Price

Will my right hon. Friend consider an allocation of time at an early date for considering the question of the export trade to the North American Continent and the means of improving it, in view of the very great importance of the matter?

Mr. Morrison

That, of course, was a matter relevant to the two recent economic Debates, and I am afraid I could not find special time for a Debate on it.

Mr. David Renton

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we have not yet had a Debate on the first year's working of the British Transport Commission, and that the second year's working is running swiftly to its close? Can he say whether it is likely that we may have a Debate in the near future?

Mr. Morrison

It might be better if that was left to the usual channels. The Government are in process of giving two days of debate for the public corporations and if it is to be pursued it should be pursued through the usual channels. I am very anxious that there should be adequate time to discuss these matters, but it is not going to be too easy between now and Christmas.

Mr. John Hynd

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether we might have an early Debate on the proceedings at Strasbourg, or whether that would have to come out of the foreign affairs Debate time?

Mr. Morrison

I presume it would be in order in the foreign affairs Debate.

Mr. C. S. Taylor

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether his attention has been drawn to a Motion on the Order Paper dealing with the operation of the Catering Wages Act, and supported by hon. Members of all parties, and whether he will give time for a discussion on that Motion?

[That, in the opinion of this House, an inquiry should be held to examine the workings, application and effects of the Catering Wages Act, together with Orders and Regulations made under the Act, and make recommendations.]

Mr. Morrison

I know the interest which is shown in a number of circles in this matter, and I appreciate that, but, at the moment, I do not see any prospect of finding time for a Debate. Whether or not it could be done on the Adjournment Motion is another matter.

Mr. Oliver

May I ask my right hon. Friend if he can say when it is intended to introduce a Bill to provide for the payment of compensation to householders whose property is damaged by reason of mining subsidence?

Mr. Morrison

That matter is under consideration, but I am afraid I am not able to make a statement at this moment. I appreciate the interest there is in it among hon. Members representing mining constituencies.

Mr. Murray

May I ask my right hon. Friend to consider today's business? Some of us back benchers feel that the time allowed for the Debate today will mean that there will be only about three hours available for the back benchers after the Front Bench spokesmen have had all the time they want. Could he agree to an extension for an hour tonight?

Mr. Morrison

I do not think we can do so at this stage, Mr. Speaker. No doubt what my hon. Friend has said will have been heard by some of the potential Front Bench speakers.

Mr. Douglas Marshall

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the War Damage Amendment Bill passed through Committee upstairs today without a Division, that it passed the Floor of the House without a Division, as it did in the Committee upstairs, and will he consider providing time for this Bill to be given its Third Reading in this House?

Mr. Morrison

I cannot make any statement on that matter.

Mr. D. J. Williams

May I ask my right hon. Friend when we may expect the White Paper on Welsh affairs, and when there will be a Debate on it?

Mr. Morrison

I hope it will be quite soon, and there will be no material delay. We are doing our best to fix up a Debate on Welsh affairs this side of Christmas.

Mr. Wyatt

In view of the great public interest which has been aroused by the deplorable state of affairs disclosed by the recent publication of the accounts of the Rank Group, would my right hon. Friend provide time for the discussion of a Motion which appears on the Order Paper in the names of my hon. Friend the Member for Davenport (Mr. Foot) and myself calling for a review and reorganisation of the industry?

[That this House, in view of the hopeless failure of private business interests organised on a semi-monopolistic basis to cater for one of the most popular pastimes of the British public by building a reputable and expanding British film industry, urges His Majesty's Government to take action designed to overhaul the system of ownership whereby the producing, distributing and exhibiting sides of the industry are bound together under the same monopolistic controls; to liberate the independent producer, the director and the creative technician from the dictatorship exercised by financial interests and distributors; to ensure that distributors who take no risks shall no longer be guaranteed settled incomes from the industry; to ensure that the production side of the industry is no longer burdened by fantastic overhead expenses; and to lay the foundations for a genuine British film industry which can supply a high quota of films for the British screen and thus prevent any increase in the expenditure of dollars on film imports.]

Mr. Morrison

It would be a very interesting matter, but I am afraid I have not got the time. If, of course, it had been a public corporation, it would have been a rather different matter.

Mr. Stanley

Is it not a fact that the operations of the Overseas Food Corporation are enough to make Mr. Rank green with jealousy?

Mr. Morrison

I understand the right hon. Gentleman's pleasure in that situation, because it maintains the competitive principle.

Mr. Henry Usborne

May I ask the Lord President whether he really thinks that one day is adequate for the foreign affairs Debate, in view of the fact that there are many people who will want to discuss the implications of Strasbourg, the implications of the political situation developing in Germany and the international control of atomic energy, all three very important subjects?

Mr. Gallacher

And the moving of a mountain in Russia.

Mr. Paton

Before my right hon. Friend replies to that question, can he say whether, for this very important Debate, he could extend the time, say until midnight, next Thursday?

Mr. Morrison

I note my hon. Friend's point. I am afraid it will be necessary for the House to do the best it can about the matter. This, of course, is not the first or the last of the foreign affairs Debate. With regard to my hon. Friend's point, as he may have noticed from the voices uttered in various parts of the House, they do not all ring in the same note. [An HON. MEMBER: "They do."] The hon. Gentleman had better let me smell around and find out. I will, however, give attention to the request made by my hon. Friends.

Air-Commodore Harvey

In view of the large number of dismissals taking place in B.O.A.C. and losses amounting to nearly £10 million, will the right hon. Gentleman say whether this matter will be discussed in the House?

Mr. Mitchison

With regard to such discussion as can be held about Strasbourg in a one-day Debate on foreign affairs, can my right hon. Friend say whether there will be any report provided by the delegates sent to Strasbourg by this House upon which to found that discussion?

Mr. Morrison

That is a nice point as to whether they ought to report to Parliament, which in a way they did represent. On the other hand, the view was taken, I think, by all the delegates and others also, that the persons concerned acted individually. They were responsible as representatives and I do not know that we could hold them accountable. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why send them?"] When Members are sent to the House of Commons they are individually responsible for what they say. I am not sure whether that could be fixed up. The course of the Debate and who is called is, of course, a matter for Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Pickthorn

On a point of Order. May I inquire, Mr. Speaker, whether it ought to go into HANSARD unchallenged that this House sent "delegates" to Strasbourg?

Mr. Morrison

I did not say so. They were selected in a way that was as representative of Parliamentary opinion as possible. On the other hand, I do not take the view that it would be right to hold them accountable to Parliament, and that, therefore, Parliament could interfere with their judgment on certain matters. They are individually responsible when they go.

Mr. Pickthorn

Further to my point of Order. May I ask for your guidance, Mr. Speaker, whether these gentlemen should be referred to in this House as "delegates" of the House of Commons?

Mr. Speaker

I am not aware that they were sent by this House. It is in our knowledge that they went, and they were Members of Parliament, but no vote came through this House to send them there. I think the hon. Member is correct.

Mr. Scollan


Mr. Churchill

Is it not a fact—

Mr. Scollan

On a point of Order.

Mr. Speaker

The right hon. Gentleman is rising to this same point of Order.

Mr. Churchill

Is it not a fact that this House was fully apprised of everything that took place, and could at any moment under its procedure have intervened had there been any disagreement?

Mr. Speaker

I do not think that was the point which the hon. Member raised. He really raised the question whether this House had sent these hon. Members there. I think he was right in saying that we did not, though they went, and, naturally, as the right hon. Gentleman says, if any question had been raised it would have been debatable on a Motion in the House.

Mr. Scollan

Is it not the case that the Government brought forward a proposal in this House that a delegation should be sent from this House to Strasbourg and that each of the parties should be represented and appoint their representatives? If that is not appointing delegates, then what is?

Mr. Speaker

Unfortunately, the hon. Member would not be able to produce any account in HANSARD to bear that out. It may have been done privately, but it was not official as far as we are concerned, and there was no delegation from this House as such.

Mrs. Middleton

In view of the fact that there are so many voices on all sides of the House ringing in unison on the War Damage (Amendment) Bill, would my right hon. Friend undertake to look at the matter between now and next Thursday to see whether he cannot find time to allow the remaining stages of that Bill to be taken before the end of the Session?

Mr. Morrison

I thought somebody said that this Bill was in another place; it is probably my fault. It is upstairs, and it is taking the ordinary course of a Private Members' Bill. It was unlucky in that it did not get back on to the Floor of the House quickly enough to be dealt with in the time for Private Members' Bills. As to the question whether I can give more time for it, I am sorry, but I cannot.

Mr. Gallacher

Is the Leader of the House aware that a question was raised in the Scottish Grand Committee whether that Committee could discuss how the cuts would affect Scotland, and that we were informed that the Scottish Grand Committee could only discuss matters remitted to it by this House? Will the right hon. Gentleman be kind enough to remit such a matter to the Scottish Grand Committee so that we can have a discussion on it?

Mr. Morrison

I think the hon. Gentleman is right in saying that these matters can only be dealt with in the Scottish Grand Committee if remitted to it by this House. I will consider his point, but my inclination is that it would be a wrong principle to do as he suggests.

Mr. Usbome

Referring back to the Business for next week; in view of what has been said, will my right hon. Friend say whether it would not be possible specifically to exclude the Debate on Strasbourg from next week's Foreign Affairs Debate with a view to giving it a separate day later on?

Mr. Morrison

No, Sir, I cannot do that. I am very sorry.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

In view of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has laid emphasis on the shortage of Parliamentary time, can he say when the House is likely to rise for the Christmas Recess?

Mr. Morrison

No, Sir, I could not say yet.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Then why have you not got time?