HC Deb 27 October 1949 vol 468 cc1519-24
Mr. Eden

May I ask the Leader of the House 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, 31ST OCTOBER—Second Reading of the Parliament Bill;

Second Reading of Expiring Laws Continuance (No. 2) Bill, if not obtained tomorrow [FRIDAY]; and Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

TUESDAY, 1ST NOVEMBER—Committee and remaining stages of the New Forest Bill [Lords] and of the Coal Industry (No. 2) Bill;

Consideration of Motion to approve the draft Clothing Industry Development Council Order.

WEDNESDAY, 2ND NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Local Government Boundary Commission (Dissolution) Bill and Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution;

Consideration of Motions to approve the various Civil Defence Regulations for England and Wales and Scotland which are on the Paper, except those for which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is responsible.

THURSDAY, 3RD NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Profits Tax Bill;

Consideration of Motions to approve outstanding Double Taxation Orders.

FRIDAY, 4TH NOVEMBER—Report and Third Reading of the Nurses Bill [Lords];

Committee and remaining stages of the Expiring Laws Continuance (No. 2) Bill.

Mr. Eden

May I mention to the Leader of the House that we, and I think the House in general, would like a reasonably early opportunity to discuss foreign affairs? Could he make arrangements for a day at an early date?

Mr. Morrison

We will consider the point. I have not had notice of it, as hon. Members will appreciate, and time is a bit pressing.

Mr. Eden

Through the usual channels?

Mr. Morrison

All right, we will let the usual channels talk about it. I cannot give an undertaking at the moment.

Mr. Maclay

May I ask the Leader of the House whether it is necessary to take a Bill of the importance of the Parliament Bill on a Monday? There are many Members who represent distant constituencies and who yield to no one in their desire to do their duties in this House, but who also have duties to their constituents. It is extremely difficult to reach London by Monday, especially in the case of Scottish Members.

Mr. Morrison

Monday is, of course, a Parliamentary day. If the hon. Member were to advance the doctrine not of a five-day but of a four-day Parliamentary week, the moral repercussions upon industry might not be good. In any case, the Bill has been debated before in two Parliamentary Sessions, and the problem for everybody is, I think, going to be to find something new to say about it.

Mr. Thomas Reid

May I ask the Leader of the House if he thinks it will be possible to give time for a Debate on the Report upon the Gold Coast Constitution, a very important document in colonial history?

Mr. Morrison

I appreciate the importance of the matter but I am afraid that I do not see the practicability of providing time at this juncture.

Mr. Gallacher

Can the Leader of the House see his way to provide a day for consideration and discussion of the voluminous report brought in by the Committee of Privileges?

Mr. Morrison

My impression about that report is that it is one of those reports, although very important, from the Committee of Privileges which I would imagine the House would wish to lie on the Table. I imagine that the House will not be anxious to deal with the matter. Therefore the hon. Member can sleep safely at night.

Mr. Harold Davies

In view of the fact that agriculture is our best dollar earner, may I ask the Lord President of the Council whether the House could be given a day to discuss agriculture?

Mr. Morrison

In one way and another the House has not been short of agriculture discussions. I know that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture and the agricultural community fully appreciate the point made by my hon. Friend and are doing whatever they can, but I do not think that the time at my disposal would allow me to make such provision as he asks at this time.

Mr. De la Bère

But you ought to.

Earl Winterton

Would the Lord President of the Council consider the request put forward by the hon. Members for North Hendon (Mrs. Ayrton Gould) and Barking (Mr. Hastings) and myself, in regard to having a discussion on the subject of cruelty to children, in view of the terrible cases that have been reported during the Recess and the obvious inadequacy of the law? Is he aware that the great body of opinion, both in this House and outside, desires to see the House of Commons discuss this matter?

Mr. Morrison

I am aware of the public interest that always attaches to problems concerning children, but I am afraid that I cannot find special time as suggested. I should have thought that, by co-operation among hon. Members, time might be found on one of the rather longer Adjournments.

Mr. A. Edward Davies (Burslem)

Has the Leader of the House made any progress among the Opposition in regard to providing time for a discussion of the First Report of the Transport Commission? Many hon. Members wish to discuss it.

Mr. Morrison

I did give an undertaking on the matter to the Opposition that if it were possible we would find time for a discussion on one or two of the reports of the socialised boards. We hope to provide time in the week after next. No doubt the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will keep in mind the anxiety of my hon. Friends that they should have a favourable eye upon transport.

Mr. Eden

I hope that it may be more favourable. I thought the understanding was that we were going to have a day for each of these Debates, or two or three days divided between them. That would be grand.

Mr. Morrison

I think we talked in terms of two days. My original idea was that there should be a fifty-fifty bargain on Supply days and Government days. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] I do not want to argue it. There is an argument both ways. We are prepared to argue it, but not now. [An HON. MEMBER: "You nationalised them."] Of course we nationalised them, or Parliament did. There is not very much between what the right hon. Gentleman has said and what I have said, and I hope that we shall reach an amicable agreement about it.

Mr. Eden

I do not remember it quite that way. I think, if the right hon. Gentleman will refresh his memory, he will find that nothing was said at the time about a fifty-fifty Supply day bargain.

Mr. Morrison

I have said it, and in the appropriate quarter, too. As regards the time, I agree that it was a special arrangement, but I think it was on the basis of two days. If, of course, we can cover in that period the ground of all the public corporations, that is quite all right to the Government.

Mr. Sydney Silverman

With regard to the question of the Committee of Privileges, while one appreciates that it is not a matter which ought to take up much Parliamentary time, nevertheless I would ask whether it is not the case that there was a Ruling by you, Mr. Speaker, that there was a prima facie case, which was followed by a Resolution of the House that the matter should be submitted to the Committee of Privileges. A number of statements were made beforehand, including the statement that there was a clear case. Is it not undesirable in the circumstances that the Report of the Committee should not be accepted by the House?

Mr. Morrison

My recollection is that here have been a number of cases when the Committee of Privileges have presented a report—the report in the present case is presented—and that the House has not taken action upon it. From that, one must assume that the House does not dissent from the report of the Committee.

Earl Winterton

With regard to the point of the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), obviously there must have been a prima facie case. Otherwise the matter would not have been sent to the Committee. There is no point in that observation at all.

Mr. S. Silverman

I do not think there is any very serious difference between us. The point I had in mind when I referred to the Ruling from the Chair that there was a prima facie case was that if it goes out to the public that there is a prima facie case and then nothing goes out to the public that the House accepts that, although there was a prima facie case, on investigation there is found to be no substance in it—

Mr. Speaker

It must never go out that because I ruled that there is a prima facie case there is any substance in it. It merely means that I have followed some rules, and therefore it goes to the Committee of Privileges. It does not follow that there is substance in it.

Mr. Dumpleton

In view of the far-reaching proposals for constitutional reform in the Gold Coast and the fact that a Debate in this House would probably be highly appreciated and would be helpful to development in that territory, will my right hon. Friend re-consider the possibility of a Debate on these matters?

Mr. Morrison

I appreciate the point, but I really do not see the time for it. I am sorry. If circumstances change, I am sure that my right hon. Friend will bear it in mind.

Mr. Gallacher

I do not want to question the decision that there was a prima facie case in the matter which was referred to just now, Mr. Speaker, but in view of the categorical statement made by the Leader of the House that there was a clear case of breach of Privilege, is it not desirable that we should have this Report before the House in order that the Leader of the House may be repudiated?

Mr. Rogers

When considering the claims of foreign affairs, will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the importance of having a discussion of the Strasbourg proceedings, and when he is considering a Debate on transport will he bear in mind that the more time he can give to the House the more we can discomfit the Opposition?

Mr. Morrison

In my capacity as Leader of the House I am not concerned with those sordid considerations, but I should be delighted to have a Debate about Strasbourg, as would my hon. Friends opposite. It would, indeed, be most interesting for everybody, but I doubt whether there will be time. However, the point can be met in connection with the Foreign Affairs Debate, if it comes off.