HC Deb 21 February 1952 vol 496 cc429-33
Mr. C. R. Attlee

May I ask the Leader of the House to give us a statement on business for next week?

The Minister of Health (Mr. Harry Crookshank)

The business for next week will be as follows:

MONDAY, 25th FEBRUARY — Second Reading of the Town Development Bill.

Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution until about 7 o'clock.

Committee and remaining stages of—

Income Tax Bill [Lords].

Agriculture (Fertilisers) Bill.

Conclusion of the debate on the Second Reading of the Export Guarantees Bill.

Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

Consideration of Motions to approve—

House of Commons Redistribution of Seats Order.

Draft Registration of Title (Surrey) Order.

TUESDAY, 26th FEBRUARY—Debate on the Opposition Motion relating to Foreign Affairs.

WEDNESDAY, 27th FEBRUARY—Second Reading of the Licensed Premises in New Towns Bill.

Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

THURSDAY, 28TH FEBRUARY—Debate on Defence. This will take place on a Government Motion to approve the White Paper. That White Paper will, I understand, be available in the Vote Office at about half-past five this evening.

FRIDAY, 29TH FEBRUARY—Consideration of Private Members' Bills.

Mr. A. Fenner Brockway

Has the right hon. Gentleman yet considered the request for a day to discuss the proposals for the Federation of Central Africa?

Mr. Crookshank

I understand that an opportunity for that may arise soon in the normal course of business.

Mr. A. Blenkinsop

When may we expect to have the Second Reading of the National Health Service Bill, if at all; and by whom may we expect it to be introduced?

Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

A Minister cannot be made to answer if he does not desire to do so.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

Has the Leader of the House seen the very important Motion standing on the Order Paper in the name of my hon. Friend for Devonport (Mr. Foot), supported by hon. Members on both sides of the House, concerning war-damaged towns and cities; and can he give us any idea whether or not, and when, we are likely to have a debate on that Motion?

Mr. Crookshank

I cannot say anything about that.

Miss Irene Ward

I understand that there was an agreement last night that the Export Guarantees Bill should be through by 10 o'clock, but that that agreement was not kept. Will my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House ask the Leader of the Opposition whether they have abandoned the principle of agreement, and whether, in future, he will be able to control his own followers in these matters?

Mr. Speaker

I do not see how an answer can be given to that.

Mr. Gordon Walker

When does the right hon. Gentleman intend to redeem the promise given by his right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe at Strasbourg, that we would have an early debate in this House on the Council of Europe?

Mr. Crookshank

I will bear that in mind. It has not been brought to my notice recently. There will, of course, be opportunities in the normal course of business for a number of these discussions.

Mr. Walker

The Home Secretary gave a substantial undertaking that there would be a debate on this particular matter. Indeed. I think he said many debates.

Mr. John Hynd

On a point of order. When my hon. Friends pressed for an answer earlier, I understood you, Mr. Speaker, to say that if a Minister did not desire to answer, he could not be called upon to answer. Am I not right in understanding that the right hon. Gentleman is now answering questions, not as a Minister, but as Leader of the House; and are we not entitled to press him for an answer as Leader of the House?

Mr. Speaker

I think there is a distinction, but for this matter the distinction is unimportant. No hon. Member can be forced to answer a question.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Further to that point of order. Is it not at least customary for Ministers to give some indication of when business of this importance is to be taken?

Mr. Crookshank

I am prepared to say that I have given the business for next week, and that the Bill to which the hon. Gentleman referred does not figure there.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Let me answer the point of order. If the Leader of the House does not know the answer, he cannot give it.

Mr. Archer Baldwin

Will my right hon. Friend provide time—at least half a day—for a discussion on the Farm Prices Review, in view of the complete misunderstanding in this House and in the country as to what the guaranteed prices for farmers mean?

Mr. Crookshank

I must remind the House that, owing to the sad events through which we have just passed, we have lost a great deal of Parliamentary time as it is, and that between now and Easter certain financial business has to be got through owing to the workings of the statutes.

Mr. Charles Pannell

What about the long Christmas Recess?

Mr. Sydney Silverman

On a point of order—

Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman wishes to raise a point of order and must be allowed to do so.

Mr. Silverman

In view of your Ruling just now about the right of the Leader of the House not to answer a question on business when he does not know the answer, may I ask for your guidance? On the occasions when the Leader of the House finds himself in the position of not knowing the answers to questions about business, who is then the proper Minister to whom to put questions about business?

Mr. Speaker

The supplementary question arose out of the answer detailing the business next week. The Leader of the House was asked, as is quite common, whether facilities would be given, and when, for other debates. It is obvious that the programme ahead is a fluid matter, and the House may think it quite reasonable that the right hon. Gentleman should not know the exact date.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Mr. Michael Stewart.

Mr. James Hudson

On a point of order.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman has been forestalled by another point of order. Mr. Michael Stewart.

Mr. Michael Stewart

Further to that last point of order. My hon. Friend asked, not only when the Bill would be introduced, but who would be introducing it. Are we to understand that the Leader of the House does not know that either?

Mr. Speaker

That is not a point of order.

Mr. Hudson

In view of the inability of the Leader of the House to make any announcement about urgent and vital Bills which were expected, how does it come about that he is today able to announce the introduction of a Bill dealing with licensing, the only undertaking regarding which was given in private to the liquor trade? Is it only the liquor trade which counts in Tory decisions?

Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. I think I can answer that one myself. The right hon. Gentleman was giving the business for next week, and this Bill is put in the business for next week.

Mr. Geoffrey Bing

On a point of order. I do not know whether it is possible for me to assist the House in this matter. There have been a great many questions, but none on next week's business. I rise for the purpose of asking a question of some importance in regard to Monday's business. I do not know whether, in view of the fact that there have been no questions on the actual business of next week, you will permit me to ask it.

Mr. Speaker

In those circumstances, it would be a relief to have a supplementary question on the actual business.

Mr. Bing

May I ask the Leader of the House, in regard to Monday's business and the Export Guarantees Bill, whether, in view of the fact that both the hon. Gentlemen who are in charge of that Department have exhausted their right to speak, and in view of the way in which they treated the House and, therefore, the likelihood that the House will refuse them permission to speak again, and in view of the importance of the Treasury aspect of this matter, he will arrange for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be present to speak in the resumed debate?

Mr. Crookshank

I cannot say which particular Minister will be here, but certainly the debate will be carried on from the Government benches by someone fully qualified to deal with it after the hon. Member who is in possession of the House has finished his speech. It depends on what he says.

Mr. Speaker

We really must pass on now.

Mr. W. R. D. Perkins

On a point of order. As this is the only opportunity we get of questioning the Government about future business, would it be in order for me to ask the Government what their intentions are in regard to the British Museum Bill?

Mr. Speaker

We have really passed from that now. The hon. Member may ascertain that through the usual channels.