HC Deb 24 July 1952 vol 504 cc757-66
Mr. Attlee

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

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Harry Crookshank)

Yes, Sir. May I first say something about today? After the business of Supply has been completed tonight and the formal Ways and Means Resolutions, we desire to obtain:

Motions to approve:

Draft National Insurance (Seasonal Workers) Amendment Regulations.

Draft Wool Textile Industry (Scientific Research Levy) (Amendment) Order.

Then to complete the Committee stag and remaining stages of the Isle of Man (Customs) Bill, so that the Bill may be sent to another place.

There are also two Sunday Cinematograph Entertainments Orders which we propose to move.

Tomorrow, after the Second Reading of the Agriculture (Calf Subsidies) Bill and the Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution, we hope that the House will agree to take the two Draft Ploughing Grants Schemes and then proceed with the remainder of the business already announced.

The business for next week will be as follows:

MONDAY, 28TH JULY—Supply (26th Allotted Day): Report.

Debate on Transport in Scotland.

At 9.30 p.m. the Report stages of all outstanding Votes will be put from the Chair.

Second Reading:

Magistrates' Courts Bill [Lords], which is a Consolidation Measure.

TUESDAY, 29TH JULY — Second Reading:

Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill.

Debate on the Financial and Economic Situation.

Consideration of Lords Amendments to the Housing Bill, which are expected to be received from another place today, and to the Town Development Bill.

Further progress will be made with the Magistrates' Courts Bill [Lords]—that is, a Consolidation Measure; and, if there is time, Report and Third Reading of the Marine and Aviation Insurance (War Risks) Bill.

WEDNESDAY, 30TH JULY—Committee and remaining stages:

Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill.

Conclusion of the debate on the Financial and Economic Situation.

THURSDAY, 31sT JULY—Debate on Germany, which will arise on a Government Motion inviting the House to approve the Contractual Arrangements and related matters.

FRIDAY, 1ST AUGUST—The House will meet at 11 o'clock.

The debate on Germany will be continued and brought to a conclusion at 4 o'clock.

As I have previously informed the House, the Government hope to complete all essential business so that the House can adjourn for the Summer Recess before the August Bank Holiday. If we make satisfactory progress and complete today's business and also the business announced for tomorrow, I think it will be possible to adjourn on Friday, 1st August, if agreement can be secured to a Motion to suspend the Four o'Clock Rule on that day and take the Motion for the Summer Recess after the debate on Germany has been completed.

The House will remember that the Adjournment Motion on the last day before the Recess is the occasion when private Members have a chance to raise a number of topics. The gist of this suggestion is that, instead of having that done on Saturday by sitting specially, we should extend the Friday Sitting for the appropriate number of hours and so conclude the business of the House that night without being very late.

As I say, we would propose that the House do sit until nine o'clock on Friday of next week in order to give hon. Members an opportunity of raising matters in which they are interested, as is customary on the day the House adjourns for a recess. In that event, of course, it would not be necessary to meet on Saturday, 2nd August.

From inquiries which I have been able to make, I think this suggestion will commend itself to the House. I make it in the general interest but, of course, it must depend upon the progress of business and a desire in all quarters of the House to co-operate.

It is proposed that the House should reassemble after the Summer Recess on Tuesday, 14th October.

In addition to the business which I have already announced for next week, it may be necessary—I cannot say yet—to consider further Amendments which may be received from another place to Bills or any other business, but I will inform the House.

May I add two short statements, as I promised to do last week? With regard to iron and steel, a White Paper on the Government proposals will be in the Vote Office on Monday morning. With regard to Korea, a statement will be made in the House on Monday.

Mr. Attlee

I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it would be convenient to take the debate on the Adjournment before the Summer Recess on the Friday rather than on the Saturday. With regard to the business on Tuesday and Wednesday on the financial and economic situation, do the Government propose to put a Motion on the Order Paper? With regard to the proposed Motion to be debated on Thursday and Friday, I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman when that Motion will be available. It would be convenient if it could be on the Order Paper in good time.

Mr. Crookshank

There will be a Motion on Germany. As regards the other matter, it is an open question whether there should be a Motion or whether it would be simply a normal debate on the Consolidated Fund Bill. Perhaps that will be considered.

Mr. Attlee

I realised that there was to be a Motion on the German business. What I asked was when the terms of the Motion were likely to be available to the House.

Mr. Crookshank

I do not think there is any objection to putting it down almost at once, but I will make inquiries. It will certainly be done in good time for the debate.

Mr. Bing

Will the right hon. Gentleman make representations to his right hon. Friends that progress in the various matters which are before us would be greatly assisted if there were not Motions to report progress or for the adjournment of the debate during the course of the consideration of Motions, as that only interrupts the business of the House and results in it being brought to an unduly early conclusion? Will the right hon. Gentleman, in order to assist hon. Members on their attitude to Motions for the Adjournment, state the date when it is proposed to re-assemble after the Summer Recess?

Mr. Crookshank

I am afraid that on this occasion the hon. and learned Member has delivered himself into my hands. I have already said that the date is 14th October.

Mr. E. Fletcher

May I ask the Leader of the House whether, in view of the fact that a great many hon. Members will wish to speak on the debate on Germany, he will extend the time on Thursday evening by at least one hour?

Mr. Crookshank

That will certainly be discussed through the usual channels.

Mr. Bellenger

As there seems to be every indication that in the economic debate an important statement on behalf of Her Majesty's Government will be made either by the Chancellor of the Exchequer or by the Prime Minister, will it not be possible to have that statement on Tuesday? Otherwise, much of our debate will be more academic than real and, as we shall be rising for the Summer Recess almost immediately afterwards, there will not be an opportunity to focus the attention of this House and of the public on these important issues.

Mr. Crookshank

I think that the House will find that the speech of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor, who will be opening the debate, will cover all those matters.

Miss Ward

In view of the fact that quite obviously there will not be time to debate the Motion standing in my name, may I ask my right lion. Friend, for the purposes of record, whether he will tell hon. Members opposite that the Government will not set up a committee to inquire into hon. Members' salaries and allowances?

[That in the opinion of this House no action should be taken in response to suggestions that a committee should be set up to examine salaries and allowances of Members of Parliament and that it would be against the national interest for such a course to be taken.]

Mr. Crookshank

I am afraid there is no time for any debate on this Motion. If my hon. Friend wants any information, she must put down a Question.

Miss Ward

On a point of order. I endeavoured to put down a Question so that the right hon. Gentleman might give the information that it is not the intention of the Government to set up a committee, but I was unable to put that on the Order Paper.

Mr. Speaker

In answer to that point of order, the hon. Lady must try some other way of obtaining the information.

Miss Ward rose

Mr. Attlee rose

Mr. Speaker

The point of order persists.

Miss Ward

Further to that point of order. I am trying some other way; that is why I am asking my right hon. Friend whether he will convey the information to the Leader of the Opposition, so that the House may be officially aware of it, in view of the fact that the Leader of the Opposition has conveyed it to his hon. Friends.

Mr. Speaker

I do not think that is a point of order.

Mr. Attlee

May I ask the Leader of the House whether we may assume that, if the need arises, the House will be convened earlier than 14th October in the usual way?

Mr. Crookshank

Yes; under the Standing Orders provision is now made for that.

Mr. G. R. Strauss

May I ask the Leader of the House why it is now proposed to issue a White Paper on the steel industry in the last week of the Session? Is he aware that we were promised that a Bill would be presented to this House at the end of January? As the White Paper presumably will contain in broad outline the measures by which the Government propose to deal with the steel industry, it would obviously be desirable and in conformity with all precedent that that should be debated on the first opportunity. Plainly we shall have no opportunity of debating this White Paper, as it will be presented in the last few days of the Session; therefore, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman why this is being done?

Sir H. Williams

Before my right hon. Friend replies, may I ask whether the right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. G. R. Strauss) is accurate in his reference to the last week of the Session? Do I understand that we are proroguing?

Mr. Crookshank

No, we are adjourning. It is quite true that we may not have time to debate it before we rise at the end of next week, but we shall have plenty of time to study it thereafter.

Mr. Strauss

May I ask why this proposal was not put before us two or three months earlier, since the Government have had a great deal of time? Or is its only purpose—and it appears to me to be the only conceivable purpose—that the right hon. Gentleman is anxious to appease the extremists on his own back benches during the Summer Recess?

Mr. Osborne

Will it be possible to allow any extra time on Tuesday and Wednesday on the debate on economic affairs, in the same way as my right hon. Friend has promised it may be possible to give extra time on foreign affairs on Thursday and Friday, in view of the fact that very many hon. Members on both sides of the House want to take part in the debate on economic affairs?

Mr. Crookshank

If representations are made, they can be considered, of course.

Mr. H. Morrison

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when it is proposed to have the debate on the White Paper on steel? I presume that, as in the case of the White Paper on transport, it is submitted to the House with the intention of having a debate on it. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. G. R. Strauss) and I think that the Leader of the House should declare the intentions of the Government as to a debate.

Mr. Crookshank

I think it would be better if everybody looked at the White Paper first.

Mr. Morrison

Of course, if it is a White Paper to say that the Government do not propose to proceed with this silly idea, there would be a lot to be said for not discussing it, but I did not gather that that was so. If the White Paper is a declaration of policy, surely the right hon. Gentleman will agree that arrangements must be made for a debate.

Mr. Crookshank

All I suggest is that it might be read and perhaps a question could be put to me again next Thursday.

Mr. L. M. Lever

May I ask the Leader of the House when we are likely to receive the long-awaited and much-needed legislation to assist non-provided schools?

Mr. Crookshank

Not next week.

Mr. Callaghan

Reverting to the business for next week, will the Leader of the House indicate on which nights he will be bringing forward new business for discussion after 10 o'clock and which business we are free to discuss without incurring his displeasure?

Mr. Steele

Can the Leader of the House tell us what has happened to the Scottish Housing Bill? Has this Bill been lost in transit, with the Transport Bill?

Mr. Crookshank

It is awaiting Committee stage.

Mr. T. Fraser

Is it proposed to take the Committee and remaining stages of the Scottish Housing Bill in this Session of Parliament?

Mr. Crookshank

Yes, but not next week.

Mr. Callaghan

May I repeat my question? Would it not be for the convenience of Government supporters if the Leader of the House could tell them—if he is not prepared to tell the Opposition—because these things leak out—on which nights he proposes to introduce new business after 10 o'clock? Is it not the case that new discussions entered upon after 10 o'clock at night are likely to lead to prolonged debate, and should they not be started at the normal time of 3.30?

Mr. S. Silverman

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that there would be ample time next week to debate the White Paper on steel and a variety of other matters if the Motion for the ratification of the German Contractual Agreement were postponed until after the Summer Recess? Will he consult the Foreign Secretary in order to assure himself that there is really no urgency about this matter at all? Hardly any other countries have yet ratified the agreement. Germany has not yet decided whether she has legal power to ratify it. Why should this House deprive itself of the opportunity of doing urgent business in order to give priority to business which is highly controversial and by no means urgent?

Mr. Crookshank

Of course, my right hon. Friend was consulted before I made this announcement and he took exactly the contrary view.

Mr. de Freitas

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that last November, in Strasbourg, the Home Secretary undertook that the Government would do everything in their power to have the affairs of the Council of Europe discussed in this Parliament and, since the Government have given no time at all during the year for that discussion, what do they propose to do about this broken undertaking?

Mr. Crookshank

There is no broken undertaking. The hon. Member will remember that we are to meet again on 14th October.

Mr. de Freitas

But the Consultative Assembly meets in Strasbourg on 15th September?

Mr. J. Hudson

In view of the fact that both the Steel Bill and the White Paper might have been discussed, but for the Government's undertakings to the brewers—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The hon. Member for Ealing, North (Mr. J. Hudson) is going into past history. We are now looking forward to next week, not backwards.

Mr. Hudson

On a point of order. I had only half stated my question. May I beg of you, Sir, that I may complete it, so that you can judge whether or not it is in order. The question is whether, when the Steel Bill or anything else comes to be discussed in this House, there are not further commitments to the brewers to be taken into account by the Government?

Mr. Speaker

I have heard nothing about the brewers in the statement of business for next week.

Mr. Bevan

As the additional dollar cost of maintaining British troops on the Continent of Europe may be very high after ratification, and as this will have a close bearing upon the economic situation, and especially upon the balance of payments, shall we be told on Tuesday what is the figure?

Mr. Crookshank

I really cannot say now what exactly my right hon. Friend is going to say. I cannot anticipate the date which I have announced.

Mr. Bevan

I am asking the question now so that the right hon. Gentleman may be aware of it, because quite recently, in answer to a Question of mine, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that this would receive the active consideration of the Foreign Secretary; and as the figure may be anything from £100 million to £140 million a year, it has a direct bearing on the balance of payments problem.

Mr. Crookshank

I am sure that my right hon. Friend will be very much obliged to the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) for reminding him of these points.

Mr. Jay

Can the Leader of the House now tell us if the Government have no intention of introducing the Steel Bill this Session, why this was announced in the King's Speech last October?

Mr. Rankin

In view of the fact that the Deer Poaching (Scotland) Bill left another place four months ago and has not been heard of since, can the Leader of the House tell us what has happened, and whether the Government are abandoning this Measure, along with many of the others on the list as it now stands?

Mr. Crookshank

I understand that a Committee has been set up to consider the close season, which is very much allied to this problem.

Mr. Rankin

Are we to understand, then, that the opposition to the Bill is so great that the Government are reconsidering the matter?

Mr. Hale

In view of the fact that the Gracious Speech from the Throne is still valid at the end of the Session, is it proposed to carry it forward to the new Session, or shall we have a new Speech repeating the promises made then?