HC Deb 13 March 1952 vol 497 cc1569-74
Mr. C. R. Attlee

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

The Minister of Health (Mr. Harry Crookshank)

The business for next week will be as follows:

MONDAY, 17TH MARCH—Conclusion of the general debate on the Budget Resolutions.

TUESDAY, 18m MARCH—Supply [6th Allotted Day].

It is proposed to move Mr. Speaker out of the Chair on Air Estimates, 1952–53, and to consider Votes A, 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and Air Supplementary Estimate 1951–52, in Committee.

WEDNESDAY, 19TH MARcH—Supply [7th Allotted Day].

Committee stage of Civil Supplementary Estimates, beginning with:

Class IX, Vote 17 (Tin).

Class I, Vote 27 (Scottish Home Department).

All Votes in Class VI and Class II.

At 9.30 p.m. the Question will be put from the Chair on the Vote under discussion and on all outstanding Estimates and Supplementary Estimates required before the end of the financial year.

Consideration of Motion to refer:

Rating and Valuation (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Standing Committee for Second Reading.

Report and Third Reading:

Hydro-Electric Development (Scotland) Bill.

Metropolitan Police (Borrowing Powers) Bill.

THURSDAY, 20TH MARCH—Report stage of the Budget Resolutions.

Committee stage:

Export Guarantees Bill.

Cinematograph Films Production (Special Loans) Bill.

Report and Third Reading:

Miners' Welfare Bill.

FRIDAY, 21ST MARCH—Consideration of Private Members' Motions.

Mr. Ede

Has the Leader of the House given any consideration to the business for today and to the number of Prayers which, as a result of the matter we discussed last night, must be taken tonight if they are not to become time-expired? On the assumption that the Prayers relating to hire-purchase and those relating to transport can be taken in two separate groups, may I ask him this question: if it is agreed not to take the others tonight, and we put down a Motion regretting the action of the Minister concerned in raising the prices which are raised by the Orders with which the Prayers are concerned, will the right hon. Gentleman agree to put down a Motion for the suspension of the Ten o'Clock Rule one night so that such a Motion as I have suggested could be considered?

It will be understood that this arises from the occurrence last night, which, I think, found both sides of the House completely surprised by what had happened, and it would not be regarded as a precedent for future occasions.

Mr. Crookshank

Yes, Sir. As I said last night, I am quite prepared to try to meet the convenience of the House. Several right hon. and hon. Gentlemen put down Prayers and found themselves in a difficulty for which they had no responsibility. I should be very glad to accede to what the right hon. Gentleman has suggested—that is, provided the Chair permits, that there should be these two debates tonight, the first debate on the first and second Prayers together and the second debate on the third, fourth and fifth Prayers, each debate dealing with one of those two topics.

For the rest, and concerning the right hon. Gentleman's question about the possibility of putting down a Motion covering the ground in question, but not the actual Prayers—because some of them would be time-expired—I certainly agree that, if the Opposition put down a Motion to that end, the Government would be quite prepared, on a suitable day, which could be discussed through the usual channels, to suspend the Rule for the purpose of debating it. I agree that we ought not to regard this as a precedent. I doubt whether the circumstances which gave rise to this problem will be repeated, in any case. I certainly hope not.

Mr. Ernest Davies

When does the right hon. Gentleman propose to find time for a debate on the Motion which stands on the Order Paper in my name, and in the names of some of my hon. Friends, about the rise in transport charges in London and those proposed for 1st May in the rest of the country?

[That this House views with grave concern the proposed increase in railway passenger fares on 1st May which will place an intolerable daily burden on the travelling public and calls upon the Minister of Transport immediately to review the finances of the British Transport Commission with particular regard to the position of British Railways with a view to taking any measures including State assistance which may be found necessary to prevent this further increase and to enable railway fares to be stabilised at a reasonable level.]

Mr. Crookshank

Not this week, but that is a matter which might be raised through the usual channels.

Lieut.-Colonel Marcus Lipton

Can the Leader of the House say when copies of the Housing Subsidy Bill are likely to be available to hon. Members?

Mr. Crookshank

I do not know.

Sir Herbert Williams

Is it proposed to amend the Standing Orders before we come to the Report stage of the Budget Resolutions so that we can resume the admirable pre-war practice of moving Amendments to Budget Resolutions?

Mr. Crookshank

It is not proposed to make any change in the Standing Orders this year, at any rate, owing to the very great shortage of available time.

Mr. F. Beswick

Would the right hon. Gentleman make quite clear that, in his answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, East (Mr. Ernest Davies), he meant that although he cannot find time next week for the discussion of the Motion about railway passenger fares, he will find time for it in the following week?

Mr. Crookshank

Oh, no. I did not say anything of that sort. I said that there was no time next week, but that the question might be discussed through the usual channels. I was not promising any time.

Mr. Frederick Willey

May I tell the right hon. Gentleman, on behalf of my hon. Friends, that we are much obliged to him for the course he has taken over today's business? Am I right in assuming that when we have the discussion on the Motion we shall be able to cover the various points which we should have raised on the separate Prayers?

Mr. Crookshank

I am in the hands of the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), whose proposal it was, but I imagine that he will put down a Motion which will ensure that all the points of interest to the Opposition can be raised within the Rules of Order.

Mr. Ede

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the Motion will probably be wide enough if it expresses general condemnation on these grounds?

Mr. Nabarro

Has my right hon. Friend's attention been drawn to the fact that there are now arrears of debates for no fewer than six annual reports and accounts of the nationalised fuel and power industries, and that within a matter of eight weeks those arrears of six reports will become arrears of nine annual reports? Can he say when Parliamentary time will be found for the discussion of any or all of these reports?

Mr. Crookshank

I cannot. I must say that I cannot accept the word "arrears" in this connection, but if there is a general desire that these matters should be discussed, no doubt it can be raised through the usual channels. I must repeat, however, that in the immediate future Parliamentary time is very congested.

Mr. Philip Noel-Baker

I am sure the right hon. Gentleman recognises as does the House, how desirable it is that these reports should be debated. Does he realise that we have never yet had a debate on the gas industry since it was nationalised? The last Government decided that some Government days should be given for this purpose. Can the present Government do that, too?

Mr. Crookshank

Not without notice.

Mr. Herbert Morrison

Surely it was the case, partly on the initiative of the then Opposition and partly on that of my hon. Friends, that we undertook that there should be not fewer than three days—I think it was—apart from the debate on the Second Reading of the British Transport Commission Bill and other occasions, upon which the House should discuss the nationalised industries. We were perfectly forthcoming about it, and the then Opposition were very insistent; if anything, they wanted more.

The same point arose about the increase in fares. We gave a day at the request of the Opposition so that they could be discussed. Now we are finding resistance, and I think the right hon. Gentleman, who used to be in this business of seeking more time for this kind of thing, is cutting a pretty sorry figure now, when he is not only not going further than the Labour Government went, but trying to go more backward.

Mr. Crookshank

I really cannot accept that. The right hon. Gentleman has no right to say he is getting resistance; because we are discussing at the moment only the business for next week. These wider issues are generally raised through the usual channels, so that discussion on them can take place to see how matters can be fitted in, to the general advantage. I have not said that there will not be any days at all. I said only that, without notice, I could not say how many there would be or when they would be. After all, the Parliamentary Session is not quite over yet.

Mr. Morrison

No, but the right hon. Gentleman is now saying that we should never on Thursdays consider anything but the business for the week following. We repeatedly did more than that in the last Parliament, and the present Prime Minister was misbehaving himself in wasting time on Thursdays over this business Question.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir Thomas Moore

Is it not the case that the Leader of the Opposition asked what was the business for next week? He did not ask what was the business for the next six months.

Mr. E. L. Mallalieu

Can the right hon. Gentleman say how soon we shall be able to discuss the Lisbon meeting resolutions?

Mr. Crookshank

I cannot say, because it is contingent upon the production of the White Paper asked for. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where is the White Paper?"] Perhaps I may be allowed to finish my answer to the question of the hon. and learned Member for Brigg (Mr. E. L. Mallalieu). The promised White Paper is at present in preparation, and my right hon. Friend hopes that it will be available to hon. Members during next week. After they have studied it, no doubt an appropriate day for debate can be discussed.

Mr. R. J. Mellish

Can the Leader of the House say when we can debate the Motion standing on the Order Paper in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Lewis) and myself, calling for a debate on the statement made to the House by the Minister of Housing and Local Government, which was misleading to the House, and the whole question of housing subsidies to local authorities? Can the right hon. Gentleman say when we can have a debate on those interesting subjects?

[In view of the promise made by the Minister of Housing and Local Government on 19th February, 1952, to this hon. ourable House, that the increase in the housing subsidy is guaranteed to cover the whole increased cost to local housing authorities of the new interest rates and the fact that the announced review of housing subsidies, made by the Minister to this House on 28th February, 1952, does not implement his promise, an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty praying that she may be graciously pleased to dismiss from office the Minister of Housing and Local Government.]

Mr. Crookshank

No, Sir.

Mr. Mellish

Why not?