HC Deb 18 October 1949 vol 468 cc487-90
Mr. Eden

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he has any statement to make about the Business for this week?

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

Yes, Sir. I have the following statement to make on this week's Business: Today, as already announced, we propose to take the Committee and remaining stages of the Overseas Resources Development Bill, and the Second Reading of the New Forest Bill [Lords] and the Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

The Sea Fish Industry Bill will not now be considered today. The Government have decided to propose an Amendment to the Bill, and this will make it necessary for the House to consider a further Financial Resolution before the Bill can proceed.

On Friday, the Second Reading of the Local Government Boundary Commission (Dissolution) Bill will not be taken in view of the representations made by the local authority associations who have asked for more time to consider the Bill.

The Business which is proposed for Friday is as follows: Second Reading of the Telegraph Bill; Second Reading of the Nurses Bill [Lords] and Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution; and, if there is time, Second Readings of the following Consolidation Measures; the House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Bill [Lords], the Representation of the People Bill [Lords], and the Civil Aviation Bill [Lords], which are usually formal.

Mr. Eden

May I further ask the Prime Minister or the Leader of the House when it is intended to inform the House of the Government's proposals to deal with the present financial and economic situation?

Mr. Morrison

Yes, Sir. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister would propose, with Mr. Speaker's permission, to make a statement after Questions on Monday next.

Mr. Eden

The right hon. Gentleman will, no doubt, bear in mind on Thursday the arrangements the Government have in contemplation for a Debate upon that statement?

Mr. Morrison

Yes, Sir. No doubt discussions can take place through the usual channels. I think that it will be for the convenience of hon. Members generally if they have time to consider the statement which the Prime Minister will be making, but certainly we shall be willing to discuss the question of a Debate through the usual channels, and they can proceed at a convenient time.

Mr. Eden

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that last Thursday the Prime Minister said that there would be a statement within a few days? I think it was our hope that it might have been possible to make the statement this Thursday so that the House could consider the matter during the week-end and debate it next week.

Mr. Morrison

I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that the Prime Minister is anxious to make the statement as soon as possible, but the House will appreciate that there are a considerable number of Departments involved that must be properly consulted if proper and firm conclusions are to be reached. I do not think the Prime Minister will be able to make the statement before Monday of next week.

Mr. Peter Thorneycroft

In view of the fact that the Government knew as long ago as August they were going, to devalue, are they not taking an incredibly long time to announce the complementary policy that must inevitably go with such a thing?

Mr. Morrison

I think not. In any case, the hon. Member is getting into somewhat acute controversy that may be more effectively expressed on both sides during the Debate.

Mr. J. Langford-Holt

Can the right hon. Gentleman assure the House that the contents of the statement will not be made known to any other body before they are made known to this House?

Hon. Members


Mr. Morrison

Well, Sir, it is impossible for me to give a firm affirmative in reply to that. The Cabinet has got to know before anybody else knows.

Mr. Gallacher

Will the right hon. Gentleman make certain that in the Prime Minister's statement something is said in regard to this matter of the wages of the poorer-paid workers?

Mr. Morrison

The hon. Gentleman had better wait to see what is in the statement, to see which matters he wishes to raise thereafter.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

With reference to the question of my hon. Friend the Member for Shrewsbury (Mr. Langford-Holt), can we have an assurance that the first public statement to be made on the Government's measures to deal with the crisis will be made in this House on Monday and not before?

Mr. Morrison

I have no reason to think that the Prime Minister is anxious to make the statement to another body rather than to the House; but as to what communications pass between the Government and representative bodies of citizens, that is within the discretion of the Government, and the Government when they do so, are themselves responsible to the House of Commons. Therefore, as a matter of general doctrine, I am not prepared to give this special undertaking.

Capt. Crookshank

Will there be some leakages instead?

Mr. Charles Williams

On a matter of this grave importance is not the House entitled to have the first notice, rather than other bodies such as Savings Committees?

Mr. Osborne

Will the right hon. Gentleman not only make this statement as early as possible but take action as quickly as possible, because of the unsettling effect upon trade and industry of this uncertainty? Can we have steps taken quickly, too?

Mr. Morrison

That is clearly the intention of the Prime Minister and of the Government.

Earl Winterton

Could we be told when we are to have the further stages of the Auxiliary and Reserve Forces Bill—an important Bill which was accepted on both sides of the House and which, for some mysterious reason not hitherto disclosed by the Government, has not since been brought before the House? When will this be taken? What is the reason for the hold-up?

Mr. Morrison

I think, perhaps, it would be more convenient if the noble Lord put that Question on Thursday, and I shall take note of it in the meantime.

Sir W. Smithers

In view of the fact that Mr. Arthur Deakin has announced that before the Chancellor of the Exchequer made his devaluation broadcast he told the Trades Union Congress General Council, may we be told why the paymasters of the Government should be told before this House?

Mr. Scollan

When dealing with this question, will the Leader of the House tell the House if anything is going to be done about the recent circular that has been issued by the Institute of Directors calling upon all key people in industry to oppose the Government—evidently to oppose the plan for trying to bridge the dollar gap?