HC Deb 08 May 1952 vol 500 cc556-61
Mr. C. R. Attlee

May I ask the Leader of the House, the Lord Privy Seal—we are all glad to know that his new office will allow him to devote even more attention to his duties in this House—to state the business of the House for next week?

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Harry Crookshank)

I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman.

The business for next week will be as follows:

MONDAY, 12TH MAY—Committee stage:

Finance Bill.

Consideration of the Motion to approve the MacBrayne Mail Contract.

TUESDAY, 13TH MAY—Committee stage:

Finance Bill.

WEDNESDAY, 14TH MAY—Supply (11th Allotted Day); Committee.

Debate on the European Situation.

THURSDAY, 15TH MAY—Supply (12th Allotted Day); Committee.

Debate on Food.

FRIDAY, 16TH MAY—Consideration of Private Members' Motions.

Mr. Attlee

May I ask the Leader of the House when time will be found by the Government for a debate on the Council of Europe and the White Paper issued thereon? The right hon. Gentleman will remember what the Home Secretary said at Strasbourg that every effort would be made to bring these matters before the House, and also the Foreign Secretary, I think, undertook recently that arrangements would be made for a debate.

Mr. Crookshank

I do not know whether that can come into the general debate on Wednesday or not, but on the question of a special day in the immediate future, I do not know whether that would be possible.

Mr. Herbert Morrison

>May I ask whether it is proposed to have a debate on the White Paper on transport policy, which is now available to hon. Members? It seems to me to be desirable, if only to make it known that this proposed policy cannot possibly last—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"]—it cannot last—and that investors in the de-nationalised undertakings had better know what the situation is.

Mr. Crookshank

Yes, Sir; of course it was expected to have a debate, but I did not suggest it for next week, as I thought more time would be required to study the White Paper.

Mr. John Dugdale

May I ask whether time can be found for a discussion on the Report of the Colonial Development Corporation?

Mr. Crookshank

I should have thought that was a matter which could be dealt with through the usual channels, and it could be on a Supply day. possibly.

Mr. E. Shinwell

Will the right hon. Gentleman consult with his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to see whether a statement could be made, perhaps some day next week, after Questions on the course of military operations in Korea, since we have not had a statement on that matter for several months?

Mr. Crookshank

Yes, Sir, I will ask my right hon. Friend.

Mr. I. Mikardo

Whilst I do not presume to ask business questions about Private Members' Bills, I wonder whether I may direct the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the Nationalised Industries (Membership of Trade Unions) Bill, because that is a rather unusual case? This was a Ten Minute Rule Measure—the right hon. Gentleman may not have heard of it—which received the unanimous agreement of the House on introduction. It deals with an important matter of interest to both sides of the House, and amongst its sponsors are eminent trade unionists on this side of the House and two authors of the Conservative charter on trade unions, on the other side of the House. It has, nevertheless, been objected to by one or two troglodytes on the benches behind the right hon. Gentleman. In view of the fact that it could be dealt with in a very short time, I ask the right hon. Gentleman if, out of the kindness of his heart, he could give a little time for a Second Reading of this Measure?

Mr. Crookshank

It is not possible to give Government time to Private Members' Bills at this stage of the Session.

Mr. Ness Edwards

Could the right hon. Gentleman confirm a newspaper report that the White Paper on the B.B.C. will be issued next week, and could he at least take the House into his confidence and tell us which day?

Mr. Crookshank

No, I am afraid I could not do that.

Mr. Anthony Greenwood

Before the British Museum Bill re-appears on the Order Paper, can the right hon. Gentleman say whether it is the intention to proceed with the Bill before the British Museum is completely closed down by the Government in the interests of economy?

Mr. John Hynd

As he seems to be in some doubt whether the debate on the situation in Europe next week will cover the Council of Europe, can the right hon. Gentleman give an indication of what it is intended to cover? Has he in mind that the debate will cover the German situation?

Mr. Crookshank

All I know is that the Opposition told me there would be a debate on the European situation. What they intend to cover is not within my knowledge.

Mr. Julian Snow

Can the right hon. Gentleman provide time for the question of the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease to be discussed?

Mr. Crookshank

No, Sir; not next week certainly. The Supply days have been taken up for other purposes.

Mr. Alfred Robens

I wish to return to the question put by my right hon. Friend about the Council of Europe and the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion that it might be covered in the debate next week. The right hon. Gentleman will be aware that the Home Secretary said at the Council of Europe in November last year: We shall do everything within the power of a Government to see that the affairs of the Council of Europe are adequately discussed in our national Parliament. To push this matter on to a Supply day of the Opposition is not finding time in accordance with the speech by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. The delegation is shortly to go to Strasbourg, and it seems to me that that promise of the Home Secretary should be carried out; or is it that that promise, together with the views of the Prime Minister oh the Council of Europe, have completely changed now that the right hon. Gentle. man is Prime Minister?

Hon. Members


Mr. Crookshank

I have already answered. I do not know exactly what is to be covered in next week's debate, but I cannot find any time in the immediate future for a further discussion because we are concerned with getting the Finance Bill through this side of Whitsun.

Mr. Attlee

We are asking for a discussion because there are a great many important matters concerning Europe, notably the question of any discussions with Russia. A White Paper has been issued by the Government on the Lisbon talks. All these matters should be expounded by the Foreign Secretary to the House. The other is an entirely different matter in respect of which we have a pledge by the Government that they will bring these matters before the House. That surely should be in Government time?

Mr. Crookshank

These things are closely linked and could certainly be dealt with in Wednesday's debate. [Interruption.] I do not say they will be, but they could come under the terms of reference given to me about it. I have had no notice that this question was to be raised. Certainly I can go no further now about it.

Mr. Geoffrey de Freitas

Would the right hon. Gentleman re-consider the point about the undertaking given by the Home Secretary on behalf of the Government to the Council of Europe that Government time would be used to bring before this House the affairs of the Council of Europe? Will the right hon. Gentleman see that that pledge is kept so that the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs does not have to apologise to the Council of Europe and humiliate all of us, as in the past?

Mr. James H. Hoy

I should like to put the point that the Foreign Secretary has within the last few weeks also submitted further proposals for the future work of the Council of Europe. Perhaps on the occasion which the Government are to provide we could give full consideration to the proposals of the Foreign Secretary.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Those of us who have not been humiliated would like the Government to prepare themselves in order to inform the House upon what democratic basis the representatives of this House are selected and not elected to attend the Council of Europe? Who determines the policy, for whom are they speaking, and can the country be informed on what democratic basis this selection takes place?

Mr. Crookshank

That really is not a question for me. As far as hon. Members opposite are concerned, they might ask their own Leader.