HC Deb 01 March 1951 vol 484 cc2298-303
Mr. Eden

Can the Leader of the House 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, 5TH MARCH—Remaining stages of the Overseas Resources Development Bill.

Committee and remaining stages of the Workmen's Compensation (Supplementation) Bill.

As the House is aware, we hope today to complete the Committee stage, and, if possible, the remaining stages of the Reserve and Auxiliary Forces (Training) Bill. In the event, however, of the Bill not being completed, we shall ask the House to resume consideration of it as first Order on Monday next.

TUESDAY, 6TH MARCH—Supply (5th Allotted Day).

It is proposed to move Mr. Speaker out of the Chair on Air Estimates, 1951–52, and to consider Votes A, 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 in Committee.

WEDNESDAY, 7TH MARCH—Committee and remaining stages of the Supplies and Services (Defence Purposes) Bill.

THURSDAY, 8TH MARCH—The business for this day will be announced tomorrow, Friday.

FRIDAY, 9TH MARCH—Consideration of Private Members' Bills.

Mr. Eden

While I think we are agreed about the business for Monday, I want to be quite sure that we are agreed about the first item, the remaining stages of the Overseas Resources Development Bill. The right hon. Gentleman will know that the Committee stage was not finished yesterday, and that, therefore, the remaining stages in this case are not merely Report and Third Reading, but also part of the Committee stage.

Mr. Morrison

Yes, I do appreciate that. I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Crosland

Can my right hon. Friend tell us when we may expect to have a debate on the Second Report of the Board of Trade Monopolies Commission?

Mr. Morrison

I am not sure that the Second Report has been published; I could not say. I am not quite sure whether it directly arises out of this, or whether it is a question which should be put to my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade.

Mr. Crosland

But it is out.

Mr. Morrison

I will make inquiries and see that my hon. Friend is informed.

Brigadier Head

Although I fully realise that the recent defence debate takes the place of the usual defence debate before the Service Estimates, nevertheless, in the past, we have always had a Defence White Paper giving the general policy and the allocation of resources for the three Services, and the recent White Paper of the Prime Minister does not really supplant that usual document. Is it to be issued before the Service Estimates are debated?

Mr. Morrison

I shall have to make inquiries. We were a little bit complicated this year by the fact that a heavy defence debate did take place last week, and the procedure has been rather abnormal. But I shall look into the point and see whether we can do anything to meet it.

Mr. Snow

Has my right hon. Friend's attention been drawn to the Motion on the Order Paper standing in the names of my hon. Friend the Member for Rutherglen (Mr. McAllister), the hon. Member for Bath (Mr. Pitman) and four other hon. Members on both sides of the House for the purpose of considering the amending of the United Nations' Charter in order to secure effective world government?

[That this House accepting the urgent need for strengthening the Nation's defences, but believing that since defence is the corollary of the enforcement of law and since the United Nations as at present constituted is structurally powerless to enforce World Law for which purpose it was created, calls upon His Majesty's Government to propose under Article 109 an amendment to the Charter so that the United Nations Òrganisation shall have the structure and powers of an authority able to enact laws and enforce them.]

Mr. Morrison

Yes, Sir, I have seen that Motion, but I am afraid I do not see the opportunity at the moment of providing facilities for its debate. However, I shall keep the point in mind. There may be other ways in which to do it.

Mr. Eden

I am sorry to return to the business for Monday, but I think there is a general complication which we ought to bear in mind. I understand that during the Committee stage a number of points were reserved for further consideration, the suggestion being that Amendments might be put down on the Report stage. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, one cannot put down Amendments for the Report stage until the Committee stage is complete, so that, with the best will in the world, I do not see how we can take take the Bill, in the way proposed.

Mr. Morrison

I follow the right hon. Gentleman's point and will look into it.

Mr. Peter Thorneyeroft

I may be misinformed, but I did understand that the Chairman of Ways and Means had put down the British Transport Commission Bill for 7 o'clock on Wednesday. If that is so, is it intended to interrupt the debate on the Supplies and Services Bill at 7 o'clock on that day?

Mr. Morrison

That may be so, but I am not the Chairman of Ways and Means, and therefore it would not be appropriate that I should make an announcement on business settled by the Chairman of Ways and Means.

Mr. Donnelly

Can my right hon. Friend say when we are going to hear anything more about the MacManaway Indemnity Bill, as many of us feel that this unfortunate gentleman has been kept in suspense a long time?

Mr. Morrison

That sounds rather awful. I think my hon. Friend will be hearing something about it fairly soon.

Sir Ronald Ross

The Government did give a pledge that it would be promptly passed, and therefore I hope it has not passed out of the Government's thoughts.

Mr. Morrison

No, Sir. On the contrary, it has been in our thoughts for weeks past, but it has been in some other people's thoughts, too.

Sir Richard Acland

As the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations is expected back very shortly, can my right hon. Friend say whether there will be a day's debate on general Commonwealth and Colonial policy before Easter?

Mr. Morrison

I should be doubtful about that. We had better wait until my right hon. Friend is back. It sounds as if it might be Supply business, but perhaps I had better not dogmatise about that.

Brigadier Medlicott

Will the Lord President convey to the Prime Minister the fact that in the discussion of Foreign Affairs the House is being increasingly handicapped by the absence of the Foreign Secretary, and that while fully sympathising with the reasons for his absence, we feel that the House is entitled to ask that the interests of the Foreign Office now should be more adequately represented?

Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

It is not a question referring to the business of next week.

Mr. Morrison

I was going to say that if that kind of point is to be raised, I do not think it ought to be raised as a byproduct of the announcement of the business of the House.

Mr. Leslie Hale

Has my right hon. Friend now had an opportunity of considering the request I made to him last week that he should consider giving time to the Motion standing in the name of other hon. Members and myself on the question of world peace? In view of the news from Colombo this morning, and the fact that the world has now been at war for 37 years, is it not vital that we should discuss the problem of world peace and co-operation in this House as soon as possible?

[That this House affirms its earnest desire that His Majesty's Government should continue to seek to secure the peace of the world, and in particular to spare no effort to prevent a widening of the conflict in Asia; should maintain its policy of preserving democracy with a view to resisting the resurgence of totali- tarianism in Western Germany and, following their initiative at the Colombo Conference, should make a forthright reaffirmation of their desire in consultation with the great Powers to lead in a policy of world co-operation for the development of those vast areas, whose inhabitants suffer from poverty, malnutrition and disease, so that the resources of the world now being so tragically expended in an arms race may be devoted, without distinction of race, colour or religious or political creed, to the raising of the standard of living of all mankind.]

Mr. Morrison

There is a special aspect about the Motion which my hon. Friend and some other hon. Members have put down. I shall have a look at it, and if I can do anything about it, I will, but we have our work cut out to get through our business by Easter.

Air Commodore Harvey

As the Air Estimates are to be debated next Tuesday, will the right hon. Gentleman say whether any information can be given to enable this matter to be considered beforehand?

Mr. Geoffrey Cooper

Could my right hon. Friend say whether there will be a chance to consider Colonial affairs as distinct from Colonial and Commonwealth affairs, perhaps before Easter?

Mr. Morrison

I cannot be sure about that. We have not very long to go, I understand.

Mr. Eden

If it would help the hon. Gentleman, I would say that we propose to raise one aspect of it, and I mentioned that at Ouestion Time yesterday.

Mr. Snow

Thanks a lot.

Mr. Peter Freeman

As this is St. David's Day, could my right hon. Friend give us any indication when we could have another debate on Wales?

Mr. Morrison

We have had one fairly recently, and I have given no guarantee about a two-day debate on Wales. I am not unsympathetic about it, but we have not done badly concerning Wales. If we can do any more, we will.

Colonel Stoddart-Scott

Could the Leader of the House tell us two things —first, the date of the Budget, and, secondly, the dates of the Easter Recess?

Mr. Morrison

I hope to be able to give that information next week.

With regard to the point raised by the hon. and gallant Member for Macclesfield (Air Commodore Harvey) regarding information about the Air Estimates, I think that if hon. Members will consult the Votes relating to these Estimates, and so on, they will find memoranda which give them a great deal of information.

Brigadier Head

There are, indeed, memoranda, which most of us have read, but my point was that in the past the Defence White Paper covered our general defence policy and allocation as between the three Services, which were not the subject of the Prime Minister's statement. I am only asking if we are to have a repetition of the normal custom of issuing a White Paper before the defence debate.

Mr. Morrison

But there was a White Paper in connection with the general defence debate. That is so. The statement of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister was pretty comprehensive. There is no statutory obligation to have the same White Paper every year. I think the ground was reasonably covered for this purpose this year, and, therefore, it is not proposed to publish another White Paper.

Mr. Langford-Holt

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the need for a debate at the earliest possible moment on the desirability of having a General Election?