HC Deb 19 November 1953 vol 520 cc1907-12
Mr. Attlee

May I ask the Lord Privy Seal whether he will state the business for next week?

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Harry Crookshank)

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

MONDAY, 23RD NOVEMBER—Second Reading: Industrial Diseases (Benefit) Bill.

Committee stage: Money Resolution.

We hope we may be able to get it by about 7 o'clock.

Second Reading: Armed Forces (Housing Loans) Bill.

TUESDAY, 24TH NOVEMBER—Motions for Addresses to continue in force for one year:

Supplies and Services (Transitional Powers) Act, 1945.

Various Defence Regulations and enactments having effect under the Emergency Laws (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1947.

Motions relating to: Patents Act, 1949.

Registered Designs Act, 1949.

WEDNESDAY, 25TH NOVEMBER—Second Reading: Local Government (Financial Provisions) (Scotland) Bill.

Committee stage: Money Resolution.

We hope we may obtain that by about 7 p.m.

Committee and remaining stages: Cinematograph Film Production (Special Loans) Bill.

THURSDAY, 26TH NOVEMBER—Committee and remaining stages: Expiring Laws Continuance Bill.

Further progress will be made with the Armed Forces (Housing Loans) Bill.

Motions to approve: Draft Police Pensions Regulations.

Draft Civil Defence (Grant) Regulations; and similar Regulations for Scotland.

Draft Coastal Flooding (Acreage Payments) Scheme (No. 2).

FRIDAY, 27TH NOVEMBER—Private Members' Motions.

Mr. Attlee

Has the right hon. Gentleman given any consideration to the request that there should be a discussion on foreign affairs prior to the Bermuda Conference?

Mr. Crookshank

Yes, Sir. We have considered that very sympathetically, of course, but the right hon. Gentleman will be aware that there have been three debates on various aspects of foreign affairs within the last month, and we thought that it would perhaps suit the convenience of the House generally, as nothing new has emerged in the last few days, if any debate on foreign affairs were to await the return from the Conference of my right hon. Friends. [HON. MEMBERS:" No."] I hope that that will be satisfactory to the House.

Mr. Attlee

The right hon. Gentleman will surely realise that the House would like to express its opinion on some of the problems and give the Government an opportunity of explaining their views on some of the matters which will be discussed at the Bermuda Conference. I think that our previous discussions on foreign affairs have been, on the whole, limited to certain special subjects.

Mr. Crookshank

They do not have to be limited when they are taken on the Address in reply to the Gracious Speech, but I hope the right hon. Gentleman will think that in this particular case it would be better to postpone such a debate.

Mr. C. Davies

When may we expect the White Paper on Wales which has been promised, and when may we have a debate on Wales, especially rural Wales, which has been promised since July?

Mr. Crookshank

I think the right hon. and learned Gentleman is aware of the position. We hoped to get the debate in October, at the end of last Session, but we postponed it because there was to be a White Paper dealing with such matters, including Wales. I understand that the White Paper is likely to be issued within a week or 10 days, and I hope that we may have a debate before Christmas.

Mr. S. Silverman

Does the Leader of the House recall that there was a most distinguished Royal Commission which sat for five years considering possible alterations or modifications of the death penalty, and that it produced a most interesting Report with a series of perhaps controversial but, nevertheless, interesting suggestions for the alteration of the law? Can he say whether he proposes to pay the Royal Commission the compliment of allowing a day of Parliamentary time to consider its conclusions?

Mr. Crookshank

I should have to consider that. It will certainly not be at the moment, or next week.

Mr. L. M. Lever

In view of the urgency, will the right hon. Gentleman afford time to debate the Motion standing in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Scotland (Mr. Logan), myself and others relating to the persecution of Roman Catholics in Poland and the arrest of Cardinal Wyszynski?

Mr. Crookshank

I am sure that in every part of the House there is deep concern at what has occurred, and that very great sympathy will be expressed by every hon. Member, wherever he sits. I should like to find a little time for considering this Motion, but at this period of the Session we have some very urgent business which must be got through by certain dates. I will bear the matter in mind. Possibly, some evening an opportunity might arise.

Mr. Lever

I am very much obliged.

Mr. Edelman

Will the right hon. Gentleman provide time for a debate on the White Paper on atomic energy, and will the Order in Council transferring the powers from the Minister of Supply to the Lord President be laid before the House before such a debate takes place?

Mr. Crookshank

It not only will be laid, but it has been laid. It was laid on 10th November, and the Order in Council is subject to Prayer before it can take effect. I think we shall have to see, through the usual channels, about any debate which may take place. Of course, in the end there will have to be a debate on any legislation which arises out of the transfer of powers.

Mr. Gower

Further to the question raised by the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies), may I ask whether my right hon. Friend has noted the disproportionate amount of time occupied in discussing and debating the affairs of Scotland with 5 million people, and of Wales with 2½ million people?

Mr. Crookshank

Far be it from me, as an English Member, to get mixed up in that sort of argument. The only thing I can say to my hon. Friend, which must be some little consolation to him, is that it is only since this Government has been in office that all this attention has been paid to Wales.

Mr. Foot

Further to the proposal for a debate on foreign affairs before the Bermuda Conference, when the Leader of the House stated as an excuse for not having such a debate that no new event had occurred since the last debate on foreign affairs, may I ask whether he recalls that since then a Note has been sent by Her Majesty's Government to the Soviet Government which obviously bears on the matters to be discussed at Bermuda, and it ought to be discussed in this House? In addition, there has been a most important debate in the French Chamber on these subjects. Therefore, will he not reconsider the matter, in order to avoid the difficulties we had on the last occasion when the Foreign Secretary went to the meeting in Washington and made proposals which had never been discussed in this House before?

Mr. Crookshank

I do not think I shall add to what I have already said, except to say that the Note which was sent on behalf of the three Powers to Russia has, as far as I know, met with assent.

Mr. H. Morrison

Reverting to the question of Wales, is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that this Government has given no more attention to Wales than the Labour Government did? Is he aware that it was we who restored economic well-being in Wales, and not the Tory Party? Is he further aware that we provided a day each year for debating Welsh affairs, and sometimes two days? Surely he ought to follow the example of the Labour Government in this matter.

Mr. Crookshank

I really do not know why we are treated to this disquisition. There are no by-elections in Wales today. In spite of being told of the wonderful things which our predecessors did, the fact remains that it was not until my right hon. Friend became Prime Minister that a Minister was specially appointed for Wales.

Mr. Attlee

Is it not a very long time since the Conservative Party produced any Welsh Member fit for office?

Mr. Crookshank

The right hon. Gentleman had so many that he did not dare trust any of them.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Reverting to the question of the Royal Commission on Capital Punishment, if the Government cannot find time for a discussion of the Report of that Commission, in the alternative, will the Minister say whether it is the intention of the Government to take any steps to implement the recommendations of that Commission?

Mr. Crookshank

That is not a question which should be put to me at this stage. All I said was that this was a matter which required a great deal of consideration. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) himself pointed out that it had taken the Commission five years to consider this matter. I think a little time must be allowed even to this admirable Government.


Mr. P. Morris

On a point of order. May I have your guidance, Mr. Speaker, in asking you what remedy is available to hon. and right hon. Members from Wales against the cynical indifference with which the Leader of the House treats our legitimate claim for overdue days for discussion of Welsh affairs?

Mr. Speaker

There is nothing near a point of order in that. I think the hon. Member knows so, too. Hon. Members really should not use a point of order for purposes like that.