HC Deb 04 December 1952 vol 508 cc1771-4
Mr. Attlee

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will state the business for next week?

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Harry Crookshank)

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

MONDAY, 8TH DECEMBER—There will be a debate on the Motion relating to the Conduct of the Chairman of Ways and Means.

Second Reading: Education (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill.

Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

TUESDAY, 9TH DECEMBER—Committee stage:

Transport Bill [2nd Allotted Day].

Motions to approve:

Draft Civil Defence (Billeting) Regulations.

Draft Police Pensions Regulations.

Similar Regulations for Scotland.

WEDNESDAY, 10TH DECEMBER—Committee stage:

Transport Bill [3rd Allotted Day].

Motions to approve:

Draft Calf Subsidies (England and Wales and Northern Ireland) Scheme, and a similar Scheme for Scotland.

THURSDAY, 11TH DECEMBER—Committee stage:

Transport Bill [4th Allotted Day].

FRIDAY, 12TH DECEMBER—Private Members' Bills.

Mr. Attlee

I wish to ask two questions. We were to have had a full day for the Second Reading of the Education (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill. It is now proposed to take part of the time for the debate on the Motion relating to the conduct of the Chairman of Ways and Means. Is it proposed to have an extension on that day? Secondly, what is the reason for the indecent haste in rushing the Transport Bill through under a Guillotine on three successive days in the week?

Mr. Crookshank

I appreciate the point of the right hon. Gentleman's second question. It was certainly not the desire of the Government to have three successive days on the Transport Bill; but as a Motion of censure has been put down on the conduct of the Chairman of Ways and Means, it is essential, and in accordance with the ancient practice of this House, that it should be cleared out of the way at once. That being so, it has not been possible to arrange an intermission between the days on the Transport Bill.

Mr. Attlee

Even if there had been an interval, why three days in one week? What is the urgency about pushing this Bill through? Why this very great haste? A complicated Bill such as this puts a great strain on those who are dealing with it. What is the reason for this pressure?

Mr. Crookshank

The simple reason is the Government's desire to make progress with the Bill. While it may put pressure—and I regret it—upon everybody concerned, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport is quite able to cope with it.

Mr. Logan

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when the Education (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill will be considered?

Mr. Crookshank

It will be taken on Monday, and if more time is required, that question can be considered. But the Government must not be blamed for any delay with this Bill. We would have taken it earlier had it not been for these various Motions: indeed, so far as I know, the previous Government might well have gone into the matter.

Mr. Clement Davies

In view of the experience yesterday with the Transport Bill, does not the right hon. Gentleman consider that it would be right to ask the House to review the very short time which has been allotted for the Committee stage? Might I remind him that yesterday time was so short that no explanation was given even of an Amendment which we understood the Government were about to accept? There was no time.

Mr. Crookshank

The time allotted has been accepted by the House on the Report of the Business Committee.

Mr. P. Morris

Will the Leader of the House indicate when he proposes to implement his promise to find a day for the discussion of Welsh affairs?

Mr. Crookshank

As a matter of fact, I hoped that it would be possible this week, let alone next week, but owing to these various intermissions which have come up, I cannot set a day now. However, the promise of the Government to afford a day stands.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Would it not be for the convenience and well-being of the House if all the censure Motions on the Paper were taken on one day?

Mr. Crookshank

I had not thought of that.

Mr. Ernest Davies

How can the Leader of the House say that the Minister of Transport is able to cope perfectly well when he has two Departments to look after—the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Civil Aviation? When, as was demonstrated yesterday, the Parliamentary Secretary is only a passenger, how can the right hon. Gentleman possibly say that the Minister of Transport can devote three days to business in the House of Commons?

Mr. Lindgren

Is the Leader of the House aware that the Minister of Transport has this week to consult with the trade union movement about aspects of the Transport Bill? With that discussion taking place this week, is it fair that three days should be devoted to consideration of the Bill next week? Should not the Minister be given full time for consulation and consideration of all the questions which might arise from the consultations which will take place with the trade union movement?

Mr. Gaitskell

Is it the intention of the Government to make a statement to the House at the conclusion of the Commonwealth Conference and, if so, will the Leader of the House ensure that we have time to debate that statement before the Christmas Recess?

Mr. Crookshank

I think that we had better see when the Conference ends and what sort of statement comes from it; but perhaps I ought to say that it is our hope that we shall not have to sit during Christmas week.

Mr. Gaitskell

Are we to understand that, despite the fact that the Government have spoken of this conference as the most important for 20 years, they expect the results to be so insignificant that they cannot find time for us to debate them immediately?

Mr. Crookshank

Nothing of the kind follows from what I said. It is not always wise to take the morrow of any great event as the suitable time for discussing it in detail.

Mr. Jay

Do not the Government think that it would be better to give the House time to discuss some of our real economic problems rather than to force through unwanted and irrelevant Bills?

Mr. Logan

Further to my question about the business for Monday, I should like to know whether there is to be a specified time limit for the business? If so, will the right hon. Gentleman be able to say at what time the Motion of censure debate will start and finish and when the debate on the Education (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill will begin?

Mr. Crookshank

That matter could be discussed. I cannot possibly say how long a time the Opposition require in which to debate the conduct of the Chairman of Ways and Means. My own view would be that a very short time indeed would be quite adequate.