HC Deb 27 July 1950 vol 478 cc687-91
Mr. Eden

May I ask the Leader of the House to tell us the Business for the first week after the Summer Recess?

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

The Business for the first week after the Summer Recess will be as follows:

TUESDAY, 17TH OCTOBER—Second Reading of the following Consolidation Measures—

Committee stage of the Public Utilities Street Works Bill [Lords].

WEDNESDAY, 18TH OCTOBER—Debate on the work of a Public Corporation, or on the general problems affecting Public Corporations.

THURSDAY, 19TH OCTOBER—Committee and remaining stages of the five Consolidation Measures.

Debate on the Report of the Colonial Development Corporation.

FRIDAY, 20TH OCTOBER—Report and Third Reading of the Public Utilities Street Works Bill [Lords].

I wish to give notice, for the convenience of the House, that at the beginning of the following week Motions for Addresses will be proposed praying that Orders in Council be made—

Continuing in force for one year the Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Act, 1945, and various Defence Regulations and enactments having effect under the Emergency Laws (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1947;

Extending for one year the period of emergency for the purposes of Section 49 of the Patents Act, 1949; and

Continuing in force for one year certain temporary provisions of the Shops Act, 1950.

Mr. Eden

I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. I think he will agree that this is, of course, a provisional agenda, subject to any changes which may come about in the interval. I am grateful to him for giving notice of the Motions he proposes to bring in. Naturally he will understand that we shall reserve comment until the Motions are moved.

Mr. Peter Thorneycroft

Arising out of Business for the first week, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that on the Business put down for Wednesday many of us are anxious to discuss the Report of the British Transport Commission for 1949 and that Report has not yet been produced? Can he tell us whether it will be in the hands of hon. Members before we adjourn for the Summer Recess? Is it ready yet, and when can we have it?

Mr. Morrison

I will keep in mind the point made by the hon. Member, but I have to consider wishes in all quarters of the House as a whole. This is not Supply; this is an arrangement whereby one has to try to please the House as a whole. Therefore, I cannot give an undertaking about that point, but we will consider it. With regard to the Report of the Transport Committee, it is expected to be published during September.

Mr. Pickthorn

I am sorry. I really jumped up too soon; I think the last part of the right hon. Gentleman's sentence answered the question I wished to put. Before that he was talking about whether we should or should not have the Report to discuss. That was the question put to him and I wished to ask a question to make sure that we would have the Report in good time to study before that date.

Mr. Morrison

The hon. Member is quite right, I did conclude by saying that it was expected that the Report of the British Transport Commission would be published during September, in which case it would be in the hands of hon. Members two or three weeks before a Debate could arise, if a Debate does arise.

Mr. Harold Davies

In view of the paucity of information made available to this House during the last Debate on the Far East and also the fact that my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary—whom we are all pleased to see—is now well again, may we have an opportunity in the first week after the Recess, of discussing for a longer period the economic problems of the Far East, so that this Parliament can give to the world a definite policy as far as Asia is concerned?

Mr. Morrison

I am afraid I could not give an undertaking about that, although I note what my hon. Friend said.

Mr. David Renton

With regard to the report of the British Transport Commission, will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that it will be a great convenience to hon. Members to be able to study this very big Report in a matter of three or four weeks rather than in two or three weeks? Could the Lord President of the Council give an assurance that it will be published in the middle of September instead of, as apparently he intends, by the end of September?

Mr. Morrison

I cannot give an undertaking because the responsibility for the preparation of the Report is, I understand, that of the British Transport Commission. I will mention the matter to the Minister of Transport so that he can convey it to the right quarter but obviously I cannot give an undertaking.

Mr. Driberg

On a point of order on Business today. In the event of a Secret Session this afternoon, may I venture to repeat a proposal which I made on the occasion of one of the war-time Secret Sessions that a verbatim record of the Debate should be kept, not for publication or even for printing now, but for publication at some future time? It is necessary to raise this point of order now because if the House should decide to go into Secret Session it would then obviously be too late to make the necessary arrangements. I venture to submit that it would be highly desirable. It will be recalled that in war-time there were stringent warnings—

Mr. Speaker

The matter cannot be debated. The hon. Member can ask a question and I can give a reply. There could not, of course, be any record kept in the circumstances referred to by the hon. Member; there would be no one here to keep it. In the event of a Secret Session strangers are not here and I have no choice which would enable me to permit the introduction of any special stranger for some special purposes. Therefore, the suggestion made by the hon. Member is quite impossible.

Mr. Driberg

With great respect, Mr. Speaker, might I submit to you that although strangers are not here, the contents of many of the speeches which will be made in the event of a Secret Session are in fact already known to persons outside—to civil servants in the Departments assisting in the preparation of Minister's speeches, to the secretaries of Ministers and Members and so on—

Mr. Speaker

We really cannot debate this matter. What the hon. Member is saying has nothing to do with the matter. In preparing their speeches hon. Members naturally have to consult people and so on, but no one should know exactly what they say in this House in Secret Session, whoever they may have consulted. I shall not permit this matter to be debated any further.