HC Deb 22 October 1953 vol 518 cc2151-3
Mr. Attlee

May I ask the Lord Privy Seal to state the business for next week?

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Harry Drookshank)

The business for next week will be as follows:

MONDAY, 26TH OCTOBER—Debate on the Annual Reports of the nationalised fuel and power industries.

TUESDAY, 27TH OCTOBER—Debate on the Reports and Accounts of the British Overseas Airways Corporation and the British European Airways Corporation for the year ended 31st March, 1953.

Consideration of Lords Amendments to the Monopolies and Restrictive Practices Commission Bill, which are expected to be received from another place today.

WEDNESDAY, 28TH OCTOBER—Debate on the European situation, with particular reference to Trieste.

THURSDAY, 29TH OCTOBER—It is proposed to meet at 11 o'clock for Prorogation. It is expected that the new Session will be opened on Tuesday, 3rd November.

The House will recall that before we adjourned for the Summer Recess, I stated that I hoped very much to arrange for a debate next week on the Report of the Council for Wales, but I should inform the House that the Report of the Rural Depopulation Panel of the Council of Wales has been receiving the most careful attention of the Government and it is hoped to issue a White Paper upon it next month. I hope hon. Members will agree, therefore, that it would be better to defer the debate until they have before them the White Paper setting out the results of the Government's consideration of the Report of that Panel.

Mr. Attlee

May I take it that that debate will be brought on as early as possible in the new Session, as rather a long time has elapsed since we have had a Welsh debate?

Mr. Crookshank

We have had one during the current Session. It ought to depend on when the White Paper is available, because if we are postponing the debate until there is a White Paper. we would have to have a few days to consider it. I should not like to tie myself down at present to what we shall do next Session.

Mr. C. Davies

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when he expects the White Paper will be ready? Further, I understood that we were to have two days to debate Welsh affairs, one to deal with this very important problem of rural depopulation and another to deal with the general situation.

Mr. Crookshank

I have never said anything about two days. All I have said is that we have already had one day during the current Session, and I hoped to get a second day during this final period of the Session. I am suggesting that it would be wiser from all points of view to postpone that day until later. I am told that the White Paper ought to be published about the middle of November.

Mr. P. Morris

In view of the fact that the Council of Wales Report was submitted to the Government seven months ago, why has it taken them so long to make up their minds to issue a White Paper? Is the right hon. Gentleman conscious of the resentment which is felt by Welsh Members at this indifference to the tragedy and plight of rural Wales?

Mr. Crookshank

I should take it exactly the other way round: that the Government are so anxious to make their proposals known that they are hurrying on with the consideration and, therefore, suggest that the actual debate should be held over until the considerations can be before the House.

Mrs. White

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that in addition to this important Report of the Council of Wales and the White Paper which we are to expect, there is also the account of Government action in Wales, which includes reference to a number of industrial problems, education and other such matters, and that we are normally entitled to debate that Paper as well as any reports such as this one from the Council of Wales? We should, therefore, have two debates and not one.

Mr. Crookshank

I quite appreciate that point, but I am making no promises about it at present. I am talking about the first question which was put to me.

Mr. G. Thomas

Is the Minister aware that, unless he meets the requests of the Welsh Parliamentary Party on this matter, he will be doing an injustice to Welsh affairs because we have always had the opportunity to discuss the broad field of governmental action in the Principality and this issue of rural depopulation is a separate issue? Will he look at it again?

Mr. Crookshank

No, Sir, I cannot look at it again, because I hope we shall prorogue next Thursday. All I have said is that the debate which we thought of having in this part of the Session would be held over until we have the White Paper. That, I think, is all I need say at present. This matter can be raised again, but, of course, the Government do not for a moment accept the thesis that they are neglecting Welsh affairs; this is the first Government to have a Minister to deal with them.