HC Deb 24 April 1952 vol 499 cc739-44
Mr. C. R. Attlee

May I ask the Leader of the House to state the business of the House for next week?

The Minister of Health (Mr. Harry Crookshank)

Yes, but first it may be convenient to the House to know that it is not proposed to move tonight the Motion on the Paper relating to the MacBrayne mail contract.

The business for next week will be as follows:

MONDAY, 28TH APRIL—A debate will take place on Transport Fares on a Government Motion.

Consideration of Lords Amendments to the Miners' Welfare Bill and the Army and Air Force (Annual) Bill, which are expected to be received from another place today.

TUESDAY, 29TH APRIL—Supply [10th allotted Day]:—Committee.

Debate on Central African Federation until 7 o'clock.

Afterwards, debate on the Sale of New Cars.

Consideration of the Motion to approve the Draft National Assistance (Determination of Need) Amendment Regulations, 1952.

WEDNESDAY, 30TH APRIL—We shall begin the Committee stage of the Finance Bill.

THURSDAY, 1ST MAY—Report and Third Reading of the National Health Service Bill.

FRIDAY, 2ND MAY—Consideration of Private Members' Motions.

Mr. Attlee

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman when the Government's Motion on transport fares will be available, as it is inconvenient to have this announcement when we do not know what the Motion is? It is inconvenient because of the natural desire, probably, to put down Amendments.

Mr. Crookshank

It will be down tonight.

Mr. Attlee

May I further ask the right hon. Gentleman to consider the question of a day on the matter we have been discussing just now? Although we do not know what is in the White Paper and we have had to drag a few fugitive figures from the Minister, it is quite obvious that a serious issue is raised here which ought to be before the House as soon as possible.

Mr. Crookshank

As I said just now, I think we had better wait to see the White Paper before we decide on anything further.

Mr. I. Mikardo

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the importance of allowing time in the very near future to debate the very important statement made the other day by the Foreign Secretary on the European Defence Community and matters arising therefrom?

Mr. Crookshank

I think that is one of the questions which might be raised through the usual channels.

Mr. Edward Davies

In view of the current interest in and importance of the transport question, is it proposed to extend the time by a moderate amount, say, one hour, so that we can have a most useful debate and as many hon. Members as possible take part in it?

Mr. Crookshank

I should hardly think it would be necessary.

Mr. Gaitskell

May I ask the Leader of the House when we may have an opportunity of discussing the Economic Survey?

Mr. Crookshank

I think that, too, might be explored through the usual channels.

Mr. Archer Baldwin

In view of the importance of the announcement made this afternoon by the Minister of Agriculture, and in view of the fact that it is not possible to get any satisfaction by question and answer across the Floor of the House, may I ask my right hon. Friend to see, through the usual channels, whether a day can be given to debating the whole agricultural position which is of vital importance to the consumer and to the economic situation of the country, and so remove some of the ignorance which is displayed by those people not engaged in the industry?

Mr. Crookshank

I think the answer to the hon. Gentleman is the same as that which I gave to the Leader of the Opposition—that we had better see the White Paper.

Mr. David Logan

I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman the following question. I want to know when the Government will be able to make a statement in the House in regard to an amending Bill relating to the voluntary schools. Is it the intention of the Government at an early date to bring in such a Bill to remove the financial pressure?

Mr. Crookshank

I will ask my right hon. Friend. I cannot hold everything in my mind about that.

Mr. John Hynd

In view of the very important statement we have just recently had from the Government about the necessity for vast subsidies to sustain the agricultural industry in view of its economic importance and its importance to defence—and, apparently, also to enable the prices of the commodities to be reduced—may we expect that the Government will now give further time for a debate on the equally important transport industry, so that they can explain how they are going to do precisely the same thing with that industry?

Mr. Sydney Silverman

May I ask the Leader of the House whether it is his intention, and, if so, when, to find a short time to discuss the Motion put down by several hon. Friends of mine relating to the Chair? [That this House regrets the action of Mr. Speaker in accepting a Motion for the closure after calling the honourable Member for Kirkcaldy and before the same had had the opportunity to speak.]

Mr. Crookshank

I have only just had my attention called to that. I shall have to consider it.

Mr. F. Beswick

In view of the great interest there is in the debate on Monday about transport, will the right hon. Gentleman reconsider the question of extending the time by at least one hour? Shall we get a definite statement on Monday about the position of fares in the London area?

Mr. Crookshank

I think it would be as well to wait to see what the terms of the Motion are before we discuss that or what will be referred to in the debate.

Mr. Beswick

What about the extension?

Mr. Herbert Morrison

Can the Leader of the House state—no doubt, he knows—what the terms of the Motion are going to be on the transport situation on Monday?

Mr. Crookshank

They will be handed in today, as I have said.

Mr. Morrison

But may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he knows what the Motion is going to be? It was not unusual for the previous Government to give advance information to the House on the terms of Motions—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] We did very frequently. It would be for the convenience of hon. Members on both sides if we knew now.

Mr. Crookshank

I noted what the right hon. Gentleman said, but I think we are only following the usual practice.

Mr. Ivor Owen Thomas

Is it intended that the Minister of Transport shall take part in the debate?

Mr. Malcolm MacMillan

While we are still in the atmosphere of subsidies, may I address this question to the Leader of the House? When is time going to be given to the MacBrayne discussion, which is rather important to keep private enterprise afloat in the Western Isles as elsewhere?

Mr. Crookshank

Very soon, but, after the late sitting last night, I thought it would be for the convenience of hon. Members—of those who were here, at any rate—if we did not have another late sitting tonight.

Mr. I. O. Thomas

I put a direct question to the right hon. Gentleman, and he has not deigned to reply.

Captain Robert Ryder

It was not worth a reply.

Mr. I. O. Thomas

May I repeat the question?

The Prime Minister (Mr. Winston Churchill)

I regret to say that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport has not been well for some time, and he has now had to go on the sick list.

Mr. Nally

One can well understand why the Government should be slightly lily-livered about the set-up with the National Farmers' Union, but I would ask the right hon. Gentleman this. We are to have a White Paper, and presumably after the White Paper there will be a demand for a debate. Can we have an assurance that that White Paper will be made available next week, and that on that White Paper the Government will be prepared to provide a day next week in order to discuss it?

Mr. Crookshank

I cannot give that assurance.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

On a point of order. May I draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that no opportunity has been given to the Secretary of State for Scotland to make a statement? I should like to ask the Leader of the House when time will be given to the Secretary of State for Scotland to explain the situation as it affects agriculture in Scotland.

Mr. Speaker

That is not a point of order.

Mr. Hector McNeil

May I reinforce my hon. Friend, by asking, on business, when, as is customary, the Secretary of State is going to make a comparable statement upon the implications of the February Price Review for Scottish agriculture?

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. James Stuart)

Our statements are so comparable that they are identical.