HC Deb 23 July 1953 vol 518 cc590-6
Mr. H. Morrison

May I ask the Leader of the House to state the business which it is proposed to take next week?

Mr. Crookshank

The business for next week will be as follows:

MONDAY, 27TH JULY—Motions relating to:

Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland (Constitution) Order in Council, which it is hoped to obtain by about 7 p.m.

Draft British Transport Commission (Compensation to Employees) Regulations.

International Organisations (Immunities and Privileges of the International Wheat Council) Order.

TUESDAY, 28TH JULY—Supply [26th Allotted Day]: Report—

Debate on Traffic Congestion and Road Accidents until 7 o'clock.

Afterwards, a debate on Food Hygiene.

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

We hope that it will be possible to obtain the Committee and remaining stages of the School Crossing Patrols Bill [Lords], that is, of course, presuming it gets a Second Reading tomorrow, and the Licensing Bill [Lords], which is a consolidation Measure.

Motion relating to:

Draft National Health Service (Scotland) (Superannuation) Amendment Regulations.

WEDNESDAY, 29TH JULY—Second Reading: Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill.

Debate on Defence.

THURSDAY, 30TH JULY—Committee and Third Reading: Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill.

Debate on the Report of the Cotton Import (Review) Committee until 7 o'clock.

The subject of the debate for the second half of the day will be announced later.

As I informed the House last week, if all necessary Business can be completed, we hope to adjourn for the summer Recess on Friday, 31st July, until Tuesday, 20th October.

During the week we shall consider any Amendments to Bills which are received from another place, and any other necessary business will be brought forward.

Mr. Morrison

There are three points I wish to raise. First, the right hon. Gentleman will know that there is a Standing Order under which the House can be recalled during the Adjournment if necessary, and I presume that the Government would be willing to consider any representations which they might receive from the Opposition on the point.

The second point is that there is a Report from the Council of Wales on rural depopulation. I happen to have an interest in it, because I encouraged the inception of the inquiry as long ago as when I was Lord President of the Council. My hon. Friends from Wales, and, I think, others in the House, would very much like a debate on this important Report. Can the right hon. Gentleman provide facilities for such a debate at a reasonably early date? I appreciate that it cannot very well be before the summer Recess.

The third point is in connection with the very sad affair at Moston Hall and the subsequent court-martial, about which the Secretary of State for War made a statement which, I think, has not been wholly confirmed by the court-martial. Questions have been put down and Written answers have been received, but I think it would be more satisfactory to the outside people concerned, and to the Secretary of State for War himself, were he to be good enough to make a statement on the matter next week. I shall be grateful if the Leader of the House can arrange accordingly.

Mr. Crookshank

Standing Order No. 112 applies to this Government as to any other Government in regard to any neces- sary recall of the House, which, we hope, will not arise. As to the point about a debate on the Report of the Council of Wales, I really must remind the right hon. Gentleman that his party have day after day within their control to allocate for this purpose and have not done so.

Mr. Morrison

A Government day.

Mr. Crookshank

It is all very well the right hon. Gentleman saying "a Government day." There has already been a Government day on Wales this Session, and that was all that was originally proposed. However, I have noted what the right hon. Gentleman said, but if he really wanted his debate so urgently he could have arranged it. As to whether my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for War will make a statement on the matter referred to, I will call his attention to what the right hon. Gentleman says.

Mr. Morrison

I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his last remark, and I hope that the Secretary of State for War will make the statement. But, on the point about Wales, I think that the right hon. Gentleman sometimes gets slightly snappy when there is no need for him to do so. It is for the Opposition to safeguard its Supply Days as much as it can for its own purposes. It is not obligated to give a day on a matter when it is arguable that the Government should provide it. I would recall to the right hon. Gentleman that on at least one occasion we gave a special day out of Government time to debate a Report of the Council of Wales, in addition to the usual Welsh day. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will be willing to consider the matter on its merits.

Mr. Crookshank

I thought I had made that clear in the final words I used, because I noted that the right hon. Gentleman afterwards said that it was arguable whether we should provide a day. However, I will not hold the right hon. Gentleman to that argument, but will take note of what he says and will see what can be done.

Mr. C. Davies

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this Report has, apparently, been in the hands of the Government for some time and was only made available to hon. Members of the House last week? Further, does he realise that this Report again calls attention to conditions in rural Wales which are not only serious, but really tragic? It is really necessary that we should have a full day to discuss that matter, quite apart from the other matters which concern the whole of Wales. We really ought to have two days.

Mr. Crookshank

I do not want anybody to be at cross-purposes about this. I quite recognise the importance of the White Paper and, if the right hon. and learned Gentleman likes, the tragedy of the situation, but it could have been possible to make some arrangement had it been all that urgent to discuss this Report before we rose for the Summer Recess. The opportunity has now passed, but I will sympathetically consider the representations which have been made to me. I cannot go further because, after all, next week's business is now settled.

Sir H. Williams

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether the subjects for the Second and Third Readings of the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill were, in fact, selected by the Opposition, or are they, in effect, regarded as supplementary Supply Days? Could the rest of us have made representations as to what subjects we should like to have discussed, having regard to the fact that virtually everything is in order on the Second and Third Readings of that Bill?

Mr. Crookshank

It is the usual practice, going back many years, that these are Opposition days.

Mr. Beswick

Has the right hon. Gentleman paid any attention to the point which I raised last week about arrangements for ensuring that Questions addressed to the Minister of Civil Aviation shall be answered by the Minister of Transport after the Recess?

Mr. Crookshank

An answer will be made in due course if it can be done.

Sir I. Fraser

Out of these extra days, could we perhaps have two days to discuss England, and especially Lancashire, seeing that there are more Members in Lancashire than in either Scotland or Wales?

Mr. Ellis Smith

I understand that the Leader of the House is well informed on Parliamentary affairs and Parliamentary history. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] If not, my information was wrong. I want to ask for Mr. Speaker's protection on the points I am going to raise. There is a growing misuse of Parliamentary time with regard to the Consolidation Bill. In previous generations in this House, according to what I have read and according to my own pre-war experience, it used always to be the custom for the Appropriation Bill and the Consolidation Bill to be used for the purpose of remedying the immediate grievances of the people.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member means the Consolidated Fund Bill, not the "Consolidation Bill."

Mr. Smith

Thank you, Sir.

An Hon. Member

You have had your protection.

Mr. Smith

It is quite apparent that some hon. Members do not remember when this country established its constitutional position, thanks to Mr. Speaker's defending the seven Members. [HON. MEMBERS: "Five."] Yes, five. In its modern form, that is now at stake in what I am raising. Before the war, and on this Bill, the Government Front Bench used to be packed with Ministers waiting to take their turn to deal with grievances being raised from this side of the House, when this side represented—and intended to do—the great industrial areas as real Labour representatives. The result of that was that it gave great satisfaction throughout the country. I am asking Mr. Speaker to consider this practice. It has fallen into misuse during the war and it has never been restored. The time has arrived when it should be restored and when, on these Bills, Parliamentary time should be used for remedying the immediate grievances of the people.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member is quite correct in thinking that the Appropriation Bill and the Consolidated Fund Bill have always been regarded as occasions on which any grievance can be raised, but grievances are so many—[Laughter] and have always been so many—that in the past Parliament has thought it better to concentrate on one or two of these particular grievances so that one or two matters might be thoroughly discussed instead of the whole of Parliament's time being spread very thinly over a whole number of unco-ordinated complaints. Therefore, the practice has grown up of the Opposition's selecting subjects they wish to raise; but it is in order for any hon. Member to raise anything.

Mr. Smith

With respect, Mr. Speaker, there is more in this matter than appears on the surface. This country has developed to a situation where we are the most democratically developed country in the world, and it behoves us to safeguard that position. With respect to you, may I remind you that what you have said is quite true in regard to the normal Supply Days, but when it came to the end of the Session, and before a long Recess, it was always the practice, in pre-war times, for hon. Members on both sides of the House—which is a better way of putting it than I did previously—to raise immediate issues vitally affecting their divisions which they had not been able to raise on the normal Supply Days. What I am asking is that you, Sir, might consider this matter between now and next week so that when we raise it again, as it will be raised, you can give a reasoned reply to it.

Mr. Speaker

I will certainly consider what the hon. Member has said, but I think that what I said previously is correct.

Mr. Stokes

While I applaud what my hon. Friend has said, may I put this point. Surely it is the position that on the Consolidated Fund Bill anybody can go on talking about any grievance for as long as he likes and that neither you, Mr. Speaker, nor the Government, nor the Opposition can stop him.

Mr. Speaker

On the Consolidated Fund Bill any hon. Member can raise any subject for as long as he likes, or for as long as Standing Orders permit, and that is a long time. The only other limiting factor is the patience of the House.

Mr. Snow

On Tuesday's business, I understand that the first part is to be devoted to a debate in connection with road accidents. In view of the reply which the Minister of Education gave this afternoon about the use of public bus services for schoolchildren in the context of road accidents, and of the great public disquiet about the subject, would the Leader of the House consider extending the time for this debate or suspending the Rule?

Mr. Crookshank

That is a matter for the usual channels. There was a suggestion made by the Opposition that this debate should be until 7 o'clock. I am entirely in their hands.

Mr. Ernest Davies

The Leader of the House did not mention as part of the business for next week a discussion of the Report of the British Transport Commission, a request for which has been made to him on each of the Thursdays preceding. Are we to have a debate on that Report? The Report appeared about two months ago and by the time we return in October it will be 10 months out of date. Can we have an assurance that we can have a debate soon after the resumption?

Mr. Crookshank

I have already had some talks on this matter of the days to be devoted to discussion of the nationalised industries during the short part of the Session after we return. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will wait to see which days will be allocated for that purpose.

Mr. Osborne

As nothing has been decided yet about next Thursday's business after 7 o'clock, and the Opposition seem to be in difficulty, would the Leader of the House use his influence with the Leader of the Opposition in order that we can discuss the very important statement made yesterday by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on exports and productivity to the Joint Advisory Council of Trade Unions and Employers?

Ordered, That this day Business other than the Business of Supply may be taken before Ten o'clock; and that if the first four Resolutions proposed shall have been agreed to by the Committee of Supply before half-past Nine o'clock, the Chairman shall proceed to put forthwith the Questions which he is directed to put at half-past Nine o'clock by paragraph (6) of Standing Order No. 16 (Business of Supply).—[Mr. Crookshank.]

Proceedings of the Committee of Ways and Means exempted, at this day's Sitting, from the provisions of Standing Order No. 1 (Sittings of the House).—[Mr. Crookshank.]