HC Deb 29 November 1951 vol 494 cc1725-9
Mr. C. R. Attlee

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he has any statement to make about the business tomorrow and if he will announce the business for next week?

The Minister of Health (Mr. Harry Crookshank)

Yes, Sir. Tomorrow, after the Second Reading of the Consolidated Fund Bill, we shall ask the House to take the Second Readings of the:

Northern Ireland (Foyle Fisheries) Bill.

Judicial Offices (Salaries, &c.) Bill.

Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

It is not proposed to take the Metropolitan Police (Borrowing Powers) Bill and the British Museum Bill previously announced for this day.

The business for next week will be as follows:

MONDAY, 3RD DECEMBER—Committee and remaining stages of:

Ministers of the Crown (Parliamentary Under-Secretaries) Bill.

Northern Ireland (Foyle Fisheries) Bill.

Consolidated Fund Bill.

Second Reading: Merchant Shipping Bill.

Consideration of Motions to approve:

Mineral Development Charge Set-Off Regulations and similar Regulations for Scotland.

Agricultural Holdings Act (Variation of Fourth Schedule) Order, 1951.

TUESDAY, 4TH DECEMBER—Debate on Housing, which will arise on a Motion to be tabled by the Opposition.

WEDNESDAY, 5TH DECEMBER—Committee and remaining stages of the Festival Pleasure Gardens Bill.

The Bill can only be proceeded with if no Petitions requiring it to be considered by a Select Committee are presented within the prescribed period.

Committee and remaining stages of the Judicial Offices (Salaries, &c.), Bill.

Second Reading: Diplomatic Immunities (Commonwealth Countries and Republic of Ireland) Bill.

Consideration of Motions to approve:

Draft Police Pensions Regulations and similar Regulations for Scotland.

THURSDAY, 6TH DECEMBER—Debate on Defence, which will take place on the Motion for the adjournment of the House.

During the week it may be necessary to consider Amendments to Bills which may be received from another place.

If all necessary business has been disposed of, it is hoped to adjourn on Friday, 7th December until Tuesday, 29th January.

Mr. Attlee

Will the right hon. Gentleman see that there is available for the housing debate a Minister from Scotland to deal with Scottish housing questions?

Mr. Crookshank

It is, of course, the intention of the Secretary of State for Scotland not only to be here but also, I hope, to speak.

Mr. Attlee

May I ask whether the debate on defence will be opened by a statement by the Prime Minister?

Mr. Crookshank

It is my right hon. Friend's intention to open the debate.

Mr. Attlee

Third, may I ask the Leader of the House whether he has considered making arrangements for a debate on Welsh affairs?

Mr. Crookshank

I had kept Tuesday for that purpose. Ever since we have met the Opposition have more or less committed the House to a debate on that subject, but right hon. Gentlemen opposite asked for a debate on housing and, of course, that has taken precedence.

Mr. George Thomas


Mr. Crookshank

The hon. Member should not ask me. I hope we shall be able to have a debate on Wales before very long, after our return. I should like it before Christmas, but that was taken out of my hands.

Mr. Thomas Steele

Would the Leader of the House find an opportunity next week to give us a debate on the Christmas bonus to farmers?

Mr. A. Fenner Brockway

May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman intends to include in the business of the House a discussion upon new proposals for a Federation of Central Africa?

Mr. Crookshank

There is no mention of that in the business I have just announced for next week.

Mr. Douglas Jay

In connection with the business for next week, as the announcement by the Minister of Agriculture amounted to a heavy reduction in food subsidies which will increase food prices—[An HON. MEMBER: "No."] If it does not amount to that, no doubt the Leader of the House will explain the fact. As, in fact, it does, will the Minister consider either finding time to debate that next week or giving additional time before Christmas?

Mr. Crookshank

There is no time next week for anything beyond what I have announced.

Mr. Jay

Does not that prove, and would not the Leader of the House agree, that we must have more time before Christmas to discuss these things?

Mr. W. W. Astor

Can my right hon. Friend say whether there will be a general debate on Friday on the Motion to adjourn?

Mr. Crookshank

The normal procedure will be followed under which, as in the past, Mr. Speaker has selected certain subjects at the suggestion of Private Members.

Mr. Barnett Janner

In view of the very grave concern that is felt throughout the House in consequence of the statement made this afternoon and the very grave concern in the country about the cost of living increasing, are we not entitled to debate that matter and to stay over to do it, no matter how long? [HON. MEMBERS: "Answer."] I should like an answer. May I also say that in view of the very serious increase in the cost of rents that will take place throughout the country in consequence Of the statement that was made yesterday, ought we not to discuss that before Christmas? There are 12 million houses concerned—

Mr. Crookshank

I realise these are matters of grave importance—[An HON. MEMBER: "Why not do something about it? "]—but I am dealing only with the business for next week.

Mr. Raymond Gower

In view of the fact that the cost of living has been increasing constantly for the last six years, will my right hon. Friend resist any application to debate these measures until their effect has had some time to reveal itself?

Mr. A. C. Manuel

A damp squib.

Lieut.-Colonel Marcus Lipton

Can we have an assurance that there is no possibility of the Prime Minister, in opening the debate on Thursday, spying strangers?

Mr. Crookshank

My right hon. Friend said the other day it was not his intention to have a private Session, as he had originally suggested.

Mr. James Callaghan

In view of the fact that within the last few minutes the Leader of the House has had to refuse three important debates, on higher food prices, on Welsh affairs and on Central Africa, and in view of the fact that he has had to suspend the Rule on four occasions this week, is there not clear evidence that we ought to have a much longer time for debates before Christmas?

Mr. Crookshank

It is quite true the Rule has had to be suspended as a precautionary measure, but it certainly was not my fault the House sat so late.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Now that the Leader of the House has made an announcement on the adjournment of the House next week, may I ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware that the statement made last Friday by the Minister of State for Economic Affairs has created widespread concern throughout the country? In view of our limited time, will the Prime Minister give an undertaking that no cuts will be made in the people's standards while Parliament is not sitting?

The Prime Minister (Mr. Winston Churchill)

I am not aware at all that any changes have been made in regard to what may be done when Parliament is not sitting and what may not be done. The custom is well established and we shall conform to the general principles.

Miss Irene Ward

May I ask for an assurance that if, after the Christmas Recess, we debate the new agricultural prices, the debate will be linked with the increased price of coal, which is the product of a nationalised industry?

Mr. Crookshank

I cannot say anything about the subject of debate in January or February.

Mr. John Paton

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman something which I think he may find it in his heart to grant? In view of the very special importance of the housing debate on Tuesday, and the very important announcement that was made recently by the Minister for Housing and Local Government, could we have the Rule suspended for perhaps two hours in order to give the House a greater opportunity to participate in that debate?

Captain Crookshank

I will certainly consider any proposals. I cannot promise anything, but I would ask that, if the request is granted, I shall not be subject to comments and criticisms from the Opposition.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Speaker

We have already spent a long time on this question. Mr. Hutchison.