HC Deb 22 November 1951 vol 494 cc567-74
Mr. C. R. Attlee

Has the Leader of the House any statement to make about the business for next week?

The Minister of Health (Mr. Harry Crookshank)

Yes, Sir. The business for next week will be as follows:

MONDAY, 26TH NOVEMBER—Second Reading: Japanese Treaty of Peace Bill, and

Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution until 9 p.m.

Second Reading: Festival Pleasure Gardens Bill.

TUESDAY, 27TH NOVEMBER—Committee stage: Home Guard Bill.

WEDNESDAY, 28TH NOVEMBER—Report stage: outstanding Supplementary Estimates.

Report and Third Reading: Home Guard Bill.

Committee and remaining stages:

Public Works Loans Bill,

Judicial Offices (Salaries, etc.) Bill,

Japanese Treaty of Peace Bill.

Consideration of Motions to approve:

Reserve and Auxiliary Forces Regulations relating to the Protection of Industrial Assurance and Friendly Society Life Policies.

THURSDAY, 29TH NOVEMBER—Second Reading: Ministers of the Crown (Parliamentary Under-Secretaries) Bill.

Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

Afterwards, and it is hoped not later than 7 o'clock, a debate will take place on Christmas Food Supplies, on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House.

This debate has been arranged at the request of the Opposition.

FRIDAY, 30TH NOVEMBER—Second Reading: Consolidated Fund Bill.

Further progress will be made with:

Metropolitan Police (Borrowing Powers) Bill.

British Museum Bill.

Second Reading: Northern Ireland (Foyle Fisheries) Bill.

Tomorrow, as first Order, we shall ask the House to take the Report stage of the Money Resolution relating to Mr. Speaker Clifton Brown's Retirement. The various stages of the Bill which will be brought in, if the House agrees to the Resolution, will be taken as first Order on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of next week.

Mr. Attlee

There are three points on which I should like information. First, is it proposed to suspend the 10 o'Clock Rule on any of these evenings? Second, on Thursday the Opposition propose to put down a Motion on the subject of Christmas food supplies. Third, will the right hon. Gentleman be able to give time before the House rises for a debate on the federation proposals in relation to Central Africa. Failing that, it seems that the only opportunity would be on the Second Reading of the Consolidated Fund Bill on Friday. We should like to ask for a day next week.

Mr. Crookshank

I hope I have got all that, Sir. We propose, for the convenience of the House to suspend the Rule on Monday to make sure of getting the Festival Gardens Bill, because that must be passed before Christmas as the right hon. Gentleman knows; on Tuesday, we propose to suspend the Rule for the Home Guard Bill Committee stage, as we understand there may be some Amendments put down, and on Wednesday as a precaution. I do not think any of the business that day is particularly controversial. It sounds rather more than it really is.

On the second point, I know that the right hon. Gentleman wishes to put down a Motion on Thursday about Christmas food supplies. On the third point, I am sorry, but I do not think it will be possible to have a debate on anything on this Consolidated Fund Bill, which is an unusual interim Bill in that it covers only the actual Estimates which have been debated. It is not like the big Consolidated Fund Bills later in the year. However, after it has been taken, there would be time for whatever business is most suitable to be put down. I will certainly review what the right hon. Gentleman has said and see whether we can arrange a debate during one of the days on the subject he has mentioned.

Mr. Attlee

No doubt the right hon. Gentleman realises that there is a great deal of interest in the question of Central African federation, and I hope that he will be able to arrange time for it.

Mr. Crookshank

Yes, Sir, I hope so, on one of the other days, but not on Friday. I do not think that that would be a suitable day at all for discussing the matter.

Mr. James Griffiths

The right hon. Gentleman says not on Friday but some other day. Will he make sure there is ample opportunity for the House to discuss this matter? Does he propose to give a day in the week following next week?

Mr. Crookshank

I cannot say just now exactly what the arrangements will be, but I have noted the views of the Opposition on the matter.

Mr. Herbert Morrison

The right hon. Gentleman has given the business for Monday as the Second Reading of the Japanese Treaty of Peace Bill and the Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution. Is it proposed that ratification of the Treaty, which the House has a right to consider, should be taken on another day, or is ratification supposed to be merged in this debate? It is not clear from the right hon. Gentleman's statement.

Mr. Crookshank

The right hon. Gentleman knows as well as I do that the actual ratification does not have to be debated in the House. It is not for me to say what would be in order on the Bill on Monday, but I rather assumed that a general review could take place. It is for Mr. Speaker to say. It is for that reason that we allotted up to 9 o'Clock that evening.

Mr. Morrison

I am open to correction if I am wrong, but my recollection is that when a Treaty Bill, and especially an important Treaty like this, is taken, the Opposition, or any other important section of the House, has a right, by tradition, to require a debate before ratification is made by the Government. I think the right hon. Gentleman will find that that is Parliamentary practice. While we are open for discussion on the point. I do not want the rights of the House to be overlooked.

Mr. Crookshank

The right hon. Gentleman can be quite assured that I am as jealous of the rights of the House of Commons as he or anybody else is; but I am not sure that he is right in what he says on this particular matter. However, that can be looked into. If a wide debate is possible on the matter it probably will deal with the situation which he has in mind.

Mr. T. Driberg

Is not part of a day quite inadequate for the discussion of something so important as the Japanese Peace Treaty? Should there not be at least one full day allotted to it? Since the Rule is being suspended on Monday, could not the debate on the Japanese Peace Treaty Bill run the whole of the day's Sitting?

Mr. Crookshank

I understood, through the usual channels, that up to 9 o'Clock was considered suitable by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] As I am only trying to be as accommodating as I can on this matter, I thought that in falling in with the wishes of the Opposition I had done all that was possible.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen the Motion standing in my name and the names of some 50 hon. Members on this side of the House, concerning war-damaged towns and cities? In view of the fact that, subsequently, the Government put down a similar Motion, and the non-controversial nature of my Motion, will the right hon. Gentleman give us time for a debate upon it?

Mr. Crookshank

I cannot hold out any hope of giving time for the Motion. The hon. Gentleman will remember that before we rise there will be a day on the Motion for the Adjournment, on which it might be possible for the subject of the Motion to be suitably discussed.

Mr. John Paton

May I appeal to the Leader of the House about Monday's Business? There is very deep anxiety among many Members, on all sides of the House—it is by no means confined to the Opposition side—about some of the aspects of the Japanese Peace Treaty. I think it is a shocking misuse of the powers of the Government to seek to limit that debate in the manner proposed. I should have thought that the Leader of the House himself would be aware of the extreme importance of the matters involved to great sections of the industries of this country, to mention no other. I hope that he will be willing, in view of the strong feeling expressed, to think about this matter again.

Mr. Crookshank

All I can say is that it is rather difficult to fit in all this business. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] Because there is a lot to be got through next week. I managed to find time, at the request of the Opposition, for a debate on the Christmas food supplies. Of course, if hon. Gentlemen do not want that and would prefer to discuss Japan, we can perhaps come to some other arrangement, but these matters were agreed. The hon. Gentleman appeals to me, but I think he might also appeal to some of his right hon. Friends.

Mr. W. W. Astor

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer will make any further statement on the economic position of the country before the House rises?

Mr. Crookshank

I do not know. I am only dealing with the business for next week at the moment.

Mr. Ellis Smith

While I appreciate that there will be no difficulties on Monday because the Rule is being suspended, may I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to be good enough, before Monday, to look up the Ruling given to me by the previous Speaker when I raised this matter in the last Parliament?

Mr. Speaker

If the hon. Member will direct my attention to that Ruling, I will gladly look at it.

Air Commodore A. V. Harvey

Will the Leader of the House bear in mind that some constituencies in the textile industry, such as mine, are already beginning to feel unfair Japanese competition, and can something be done about it?

Mr. I. Mikardo

Is the Leader of the House aware—I am sure he is—that he is leading the House and not merely the usual channels, and in considering what time should be devoted to the discussion of the Japanese Peace Treaty Bill, will he take into account the obvious feeling of back bench Members on both sides of the House that a debate of five and a half hours is insufficient for a matter of this great importance?

Mr. C. R. Hobson

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when he intends to present to the House legislation which is necessary because of the expiration of the B.B.C. licence? Only 15 days are left before the House adjourns.

Mr. Crookshank

The Postmaster-General will make a statement on that very shortly.

Sir Herbert Williams

Will any statistical information be supplied to us about the Festival Gardens before we have the debate on Monday? Will the suspension of the Rule be for a limited period or for as long as may be necessary to consider the proposals in the Bill?

Mr. Crookshank

As far as I know, it will be unlimited suspension. As regards the other point, I should have to ask my right hon. Friend the Minister of Works because I do not know.

Mr. Frederick Lee

In view of the serious economic situation, is it the intention of His Majesty's Government to arrange for a day on which we can debate the manpower proposals of the Ministry of Labour before the House is put to silence?

Mr. Douglas Jay

If the right hon. Gentleman is in such difficulty about time next week, why cannot he reconsider the Government's obviously mistaken decision not to give us another week before Christmas?

Mr. Crookshank

I am not in any difficulty about time. Instead of having a discussion all day on the Japanese Peace Treaty Bill, I offered to accede to the request of the Leader of the Opposition about Christmas bonuses If I had not done that, this would not have arisen.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Speaker

Order. We have discussed business very thoroughly.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

On a point of order. There is a Motion, Sir, on the Order Paper about whose fate I wish to inquire now from the Leader of the House.

[That the Standing Orders of the House be so amended as to allow the Scottish Grand Committee to meet in Scotland during the Parliamentary Recess to consider the housing problem in Scotland.]

Am I in order in asking now about the fate of the Motion?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member would be in order in asking his question if there was time, but there have been a lot of questions already and we must get on with the business of the House.

Mr. Hughes

Further to that point of order. I should like your Ruling, Mr. Speaker. The Motion is on the Order Paper for today and I hope to have the opinion of the Leader of the House on it. Last week I rose at the same time to ask about another Motion. Is it your judgment that we should not ask questions of the Leader of the House? I should like you to tell me what opportunities we have of doing so when we have urgent matters of public business on the Order Paper.

Mr. Speaker

I have to use discretion in the matter so that the business of the House shall not be unduly delayed.

Mr. Ivor Owen Thomas

On a point of order. Is it in order for the Leader of the House, on behalf of the Government, to persist in the policy of such an extended Christmas Recess when it is obviously against the wishes of the House and the interests of the country as a whole?

Mr. Speaker

That is not a point of order. The adjournment of the House is entirely a matter for the House itself and not one for me.

Mr. A. C. Manuel

Further to the point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Ayrshire, South (Mr. Emrys Hughes), I want to ask, for guidance, Mr. Speaker, how I could be in order in raising the matter of Scottish housing for discussion by the Scottish Grand Committee during the Recess? How can I put it to the Leader of the House and remain in order?

Mr. Speaker

I do not think that the hon. Member can put that question now. If he addresses a query to the Leader of the House, I have no doubt that he will get an answer, but at the moment there is other business before the House. Sir. David Maxwell Fyfe.

Mr. Crookshank

On a point of order. I understood, Mr. Speaker, that you were going to call me on a further point of business.

Mr. Speaker

That is true. I have had some notice of that. Mr. Crookshank.