HC Deb 17 July 1952 vol 503 cc2336-44
Mr. H. Morrison

Will the Leader of the House state what business the Government propose to take next week?

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Harry Crookshank)

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

MONDAY, 21ST JULY—It is necessary to ask the House to consider a Timetable Motion for the Licensed Premises in New Towns Bill, which is at present before a Standing Committee. The terms of the Motion will appear on the Order Paper Tomorrow.

TUESDAY, 22ND JuLY—Supply (23rd Allotted Day): Committee.

Debate on the Report of the British Transport Commission.

Committee stage of the Civil List Bill;

Committee and remaining stages of the Isle of Man (Customs) Bill;

Consideration of Motions to approve the Draft Ploughing Grants Scheme and a similar Scheme for Scotland.

WEDNESDAY, 23RD JULY—Supply (24th Allotted Day): Committee.

Debate on the Work of the Monopolies Commission.

Concluding stages of the Civil List Bill;

Report and Third Reading of the Marine and Aviation Insurance (War Risks) Bill.

THURSDAY, 24TH JULY—Supply (25th Allotted Day): Committee.

Debate on Central African Federation.

At 9.30 p.m. the Committee stage of all outstanding Votes will be put from the Chair.

Second Reading of the Irish Sailors and Soldiers Land Trust Bill [Lords];

Consideration of Motions to approve the Draft National Insurance (Seasonal Workers) Amendment Regulations; and the Draft Wool Textile Industry (Scientific Research Levy) (Amendment) Order.

FRIDAY, 25TH JULY—Second Reading of the Agriculture (Calf Subsidies) Bill and Committee stage of the necessary Money resolution.

Committee and remaining stages of the Prison Bill [Lords], and the Costs in Criminal Cases Bill [Lords], which are Consolidation Measures; and, if there is time, Second Reading of the Insurance Contracts (War Settlement) Bill [Lords].

The House may want to hear something about the Summer Recess.

The Business of Supply must be completed, as well as several urgent Bills, and debates on Germany and on the economic situation must, we feel, take place before we separate.

Discussions are taking place through the usual channels and the Government hope that it will be possible to complete all essential business to enable the House to adjourn for the Summer Recess before the August Bank Holiday, but I must warn the House that this may mean sitting on Saturday, 2nd August.

I shall make a further statement as soon as possible.

Mr. H. Morrison

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, quite apart from the general dislike of Guillotine Motions —[HON. MEMBERS: "0h."] I think it is general on both sides; at any rate, it always was when the Opposition sat on this side of the House—it is out of all proportion to apply a Guillotine Motion to this particular Bill?

Is it not the case that the Bill had a Second Reading months ago, in February; that the Government are the victims of the mismanagement of their own legislative programme, and that the Bill is totally irrelevant to the urgent economic problems to which the Prime Minister referred yesterday? Are we to be submitted to a Guillotine on this second-class or third-class irrelevant Bill merely because the brewers are pressing the Government?

Mr. Crookshank

I am very glad to have a dress rehearsal of the speech which the right hon. Gentleman intends to make next week. The fact remains that while the Government are supported by the majority which they are at present receiving in the House, it is the Government's responsibility to have charge of the business of the House. We consider it essential to get this Bill through as soon as possible. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] It was referred to a Standing Committee in very good time indeed for all the stages of the Committee to be concluded before we rose for the Summer Recess. The Government are introducing the Motion on Monday next to make sure that that happens.

Mr. Ede

When the right hon. Gentleman put this matter down for discussion, was he aware that the Government themselves this morning defeated a suggestion by the Opposition that the Committee should meet at 3.30 this afternoon, with no stipulation with regard to the hour to which we should rise, in order to get on with the Bill?

Mr. Crookshank

I am aware of what happened in the Committee, but I was also waiting to see what happened during the rest of the proceedings.

Mr. Alport

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the reason for that was to enable hon. Members on this side who want to take part in the colonial debate to do so?

Mr. Delargy

May I ask the Leader of the House two questions? First, since the Guillotine Motion is introduced merely on account of urgency, how does he explain that five months have elapsed between the Second Reading of the Bill and its being brought up in Committee? My second question refers to the question already put by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede). Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the reason given in the Committee upstairs why the Conservative Members refused to meet at 3.30 this afternoon was that they wanted to go to a garden party? Is he further aware that, that suggestion having been turned down, we then offered to sit at 10 o'clock and to sit all through the night, if necessary, in order to facilitate the passage of this Measure?

Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. We are to have a debate, I understand, on this Motion on Monday. Would it not be better to reserve the matter until then?

Mr. H. Morrison

I appreciate that, Mr. Speaker, but this is an appropriate time, I submit with respect, for challenging the Government on what they are doing. I hope that the Leader of the House will get out of this rather unwise and irritating habit, when legitimate questions are put to him which he does not know how to answer, of sitting there tight; let him get up. [HOW. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] I am sorry. As we are talking about a drink Bill, perhaps that was a little inappropriate. But cannot the right hon. Gentleman answer? If he cannot, can he not make a pretence of answering, anyway?

Mr. Crookshank

I do not know why the right hon. Gentleman takes this extraordinary line. I did not rise to answer at once because Mr. Speaker was on his feet. The fact remains that the way the Opposition have been dealing with the Bill in Standing Committee makes it quite clear that, whenever it had gone up there, exactly the same thing would have happened.

Mr. Mikardo

The right hon. Gentleman has said that the Bill was introduced upstairs in good time, as he thought, to enable the Committee stage to be completed before the Summer Recess. Since, however, the right hon. Gentleman has only just decided, and even now not firmly, when the Summer Recess is to begin, how could he have known on 9th July whether there was enough time to complete the Bill before the beginning of the Summer Recess?

Mr. Crookshank

The answer is that there was plenty of time if the Opposition had shown any desire whatever to assist.

Mr. J. Hudson

While desiring to make no comment on the Government's right to control the business of the House, is it not clear, from the statements made by the Government spokesman in the Committee upstairs, that the Government are not in control of the business at all? The brewers themselves have taken this matter into their charge, and decided that the Bill should be introduced in the first place, and now are using pressure on the Government—

Mr. Alport

On a point of order. Is it in order that we should have a repetition of the filibustering on this point which we have had in the last two days in the Committee upstairs?

Mr. Speaker

It does not sound to me like a repetition but rather like a prelude to what may happen. The question of the Time-table Motion is not now before the House.

Mr. Hudson

I desire, with permission, to complete my question. It has been stated by the Government that the desire is to get the Bill completed at the earliest moment. That is in order to meet the bargains that have been made between the Government and the trade, and I ask whether the dignity of the House is being served by corrupt practices of this kind.

Mr. Speaker

It is quite out of order to make allegations of corruption—[Horn. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] It is quite out of order to make charges of corrupt practices in this House, I ask the hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. J. Hudson) to withdraw the expression.

Mr. Hudson

I make the charge of corruption having in mind the attitude of the liquor trade. I am not so much thinking about Members of this House, and I have no intention that my charge should fall on any individual Member of the House. I am insisting, and the House must face it, that this trade, that uses pressure upon us so readily, presses the Government—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The House must preserve some sense of decorum in these matters. It is not in order for hon. Members to make charges of corruption which might involve other hon. Members. It is not in order from either side of the House, and it is not in accordance with the dignity and practices of the House. The hon. Member has made a sort of withdrawal, but I hope he will withdraw it completely as regards any hon. Member in this House.

Mr. Hudson

Then I withdraw completely any charge I made of corruption against any hon. Member in this House. My original charge only stands.

Mr. Stokes

May I ask the Leader of the House, or the Prime Minister, when we are to have a Government announcement about the slaughtering of horses, a matter which the Government promised to pursue with such vigour?

The Prime Minister (Mr. Winston Churchill)

There was to have been an announcement today. I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he will kindly put it off until Monday. I am not absolutely sure that it will fall to me to make the announcement, because the matter has passed into the Departmental sphere.

Mr. H. Morrison

I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for telling us about the course of business leading up to the Summer Recess. I gather that, as we had intended to have a debate on the Scottish Estimates on Monday, and as this is now displaced by the Time-table Motion, we shall have to substitute the following Monday?

Secondly, it looks as if the economic debate may have to take place, presumably, on Thursday and Friday as an indirect consequence of bringing on this Guillotine Motion in order to please a certain trade. Is it right that this vital and important economic debate, especially in view of what the Prime Minister said in the House only recently, should be taken at the tail end? Is not that another reason why this Time-table Motion should 'not come on, in order that the economic debate might come at the proper time? Are we to take it that the Guillotine Motion in the interests of the liquor trade is more important than the debate on the economic situation?

Mr. Crookshank

I do not accept the premises—perhaps that is the wrong word—of the right hon. Gentleman. I am not ready to decide the exact business for the week after next. We are talking about next week. It does not follow that the outstanding Supply Day need necessarily be taken on the Monday. There will be discussion through the usual channels on that point. I do not see that if the economic debate is on the Thursday and Friday it will be more at the tail end than on the Wednesday and Thursday.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether the Government propose to issue their White Paper on the steel proposals before the end of the Session?

Mr. Crookshank

A statement will be made one day next week.

Mr. Jay

As the King's Speech last October stated that there was to be a Bill to annul the Iron and Steel Act this Session, can the right hon. Gentleman tell us why the Government changed their mind and, to avoid uncertainty in the industry, can he tell us whether there is to be a Bill or not in the next Session?

Mr. Crookshank

What I said was that a statement is to be made next week, and I do not propose to amplify that today.

Mr. Strauss

Before the statement is made, will the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues bear in mind that the longer the Government refrain from upsetting the present structure of the steel industry, the better it will be for the steel industry and the country?

Mr. Driberg

The right hon. Gentleman referred to an impending debate on Germany. Can we take it that the Government will not try to persuade Parliament to approve the ratification of the Anglo-German Contractual Agreement before the House rises?

Mr. Crookshank

No, Sir. The purpose of the debate is that the Government propose to invite the House to approve the Contractual Agreement.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

May I ask why discussion of the Scottish Estimates has been liquidated on Monday in the interests of the brewing trade, and when the Scottish Estimates are to be discussed?

Mr. Crookshank

The Scottish Estimates come on Supply Days, which are at the disposal of the Opposition. Whether they can come on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday is not my concern.

Mr. H. Morrison

Surely that is most improperly misleading the House. We had put down that business for Monday and my hon. Friend wants to know why the Government have jumped in and stolen Monday for the wicked Motion in the interests of the liquor trade.

Mr. Crookshank

If the Opposition prefer to have Scottish Estimates next week, they could use 'Tuesday for the purpose.

Mr. Grimond

Arising out of the question of Scottish Estimates, can the right hon. Gentleman say whether it is the intention of the Government to publish the Catto Report and to allow time to debate it before the Recess?

Mr. Crookshank

I cannot see that there will be any time for a debate before the Recess.

Mr. Wigg

In order that we may have a real debate next Monday, will the right hon. Gentleman publish the amounts of money which have been paid by the brewing industry to the Conservative Party in the last two years and the promises that have been made for money to be paid before the next General Election?

Mrs. Mann

As there are so many important questions down on the Order Paper which cannot be discussed, will the right hon. Gentleman indicate why there is pressure for this debate on Monday? Is there a shortage of beer, or should the House be held up for a full day merely on a question of who supplies whom with beer?

Mr. Crookshank

The hon. Lady will realise that it is not necessary to spend all day on the Time-table Motion.

Mr. Manuel

While being most desirous to talk to the right hon. Gentleman in the correct spirit, seeing that he is so committed to the brewers, may I ask whether he can inform the House when the Scottish Estimates are now to be discussed, as he has disposed of Monday?

Mr. Crookshank

I do not know whether the Opposition will select their last Supply Day for that purpose or not.

Mr. Shinwell

I suppose we shall have a statement before the Recess on the course of military operations in Korea?

Mr. Crookshank

A brief statement will be made before we rise.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Since the right hon. Gentleman tentatively announced the date on which the Summer Recess starts, may we have an idea of when it is to end?

Mr. Crookshank

Not today, Sir.