HC Deb 21 December 1954 vol 535 cc2603-5
Mr. Attlee

May I ask the Lord Privy Seal to state the business for the first week after the Christmas Recess?

Mr. Crookshank

Yes, Sir, the business for the first week after the Christmas Recess will be as follows:

TUESDAY, 25TH JANUARY—Second Readings:

Army Bill.

Air Force Bill.

Revision of the Army and Air Force Acts (Transitional Provisions) Bill.

Second Reading: Transport (Borrowing Powers) Bill.

Committee stage: Money Resolution.

Committee and remaining stages: New Towns Bill, if there is time.

WEDNESDAY, 26TH JANUARY—Outstanding draft Parliamentary Constituencies Orders.

THURSDAY, 27TH JANUARY—Second Reading: Crofters (Scotland) Bill.

Committee stage: Money Resolution, which it is hoped to obtain by about 7 o'clock.

Afterwards, debate on the Report of the Royal Commission on Scottish Affairs (Cmd. 9212).

FRIDAY, 28TH JANUARY—Private Members' Motions.

During the week we hope that there will be an opportunity to consider the Motions to set up the Estimates Committee, and the Joint Committee on Private Bill Procedure.

Mr. Bevan

Would it not be undesirable for the Government to commit themselves too definitely to the Second Reading of the Crofters (Scotland) Bill, because they might not have got the Orders relating to constituencies by then?

Mr. Crookshank

If the right hon. Member does not want us to be committed he is quite entitled to his own opinion.

Mr. J. R. H. Hutchison

In view of the fact that the Report of the Royal Commission on Scottish Affairs has to be taken on the Thursday, and involves a large number of important questions relating to Scotland, would my right hon. Friend consider suspending the Rule that day?

Mr. Foot

Referring to the draft Orders under the Boundary Commission's proposals, since there is now almost a month available, will the right hon. Gentleman make arrangements with the Home Secretary for a public inquiry to be held in the case of those constituencies which have been refused a public inquiry, especially as, in the debate on Orders passed on Thursday last, the Home Secretary told us that he could not go into the details of particular cases? Parliament is the only court of appeal on these constituency boundary cases and when we come to the trial the judge says that he is not able to go into details. Does the right hon. Gentleman propose to carry out the same procedure, when we meet after the Recess, as was carried out by the Home Secretary when we were discussing the other Orders on Thursday?

Mr. Crookshank

The question of an inquiry, I understand, is entirely a matter for the discretion of the Commissioners.

Mr. T. Fraser

Will the Lord Privy Seal have another look at the Scottish business for the Thursday? The Crofters (Scotland) Bill is a Bill we have not yet seen and is based on a Report by a very important independent Commission. Our first opportunity to discuss that Report will be after we have discussed the Bill. It is surely absurd that the House should be asked to deal with these two very important matters in one day's Sitting. Could we not have a day for each?

Mr. Crookshank

I think: we had better leave things as they are at present. The Bill will be available this afternoon and the hon. Member will realise that there was a Report on this subject.

Mr. Ross

Surely the Lord Privy Seal should realise that on Thursdays we are occasionally kept a little later from starting the announced business? Today, for example, we have already lost 25 minutes. This sort of thing means that a matter which is vital to the whole life of the Highlands will have to be dealt with in about three hours. Is the right hon. Gentleman telling the people of Inverness—today of all days—that three hours is all he can spare for discussion of this most important matter?

Mr. Crookshank

I have had the privilege and pleasure of seeing the Crofters (Scotland) Bill already, and the hon. Member has not. When he sees it I hope he will be satisfied with it. It certainly is not my fault if we do not get on to business until a late hour on Thursdays. What I have to say is very brief; it is nearly always other hon. Members who take up the time.

Mr. Mulley

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider allowing more time for discussion of the remaining draft Parliamentary Constituencies Orders? Does he realise that in the case of Sheffield, which is the last English Order, we have been refused a public inquiry and that we hope we shall be able to ventilate our grievances at a more convenient time than the middle of the night?