HC Deb 25 February 1954 vol 524 cc569-72
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, 1st MARCH—Second Reading: Atomic Energy Authority Bill. Committee stage: Money Resolution.

Tuesday, 2ND MARCH—Debate on Defence on a Motion to approve the White Paper.

Motion to approve Draft Civil Defence (Transport) Regulations.

WEDNESDAY, 3RD MARCH—Supply [5th Allotted Day].

Committee stage: Civil Estimates and Estimates for Revenue Departments Vote on Account, 1954–55.

Debate on the Industrial Situation.

THURSDAY, 4TH MARCH—Supply [6th Allotted Day].

It is proposed to move Mr. Speaker out of the Chair on Air Estimates, 1954–55, and to consider Votes A, 1, 2, 7, 8, 9 and 11 and Air Supplementary Estimate, 1953–54, in Committee,

FRIDAY, 5TH MARCH—Private Members' Motions.

During the week it is hoped to take the Committee stage of the Money Resolution for the Coroners Bill, which is a Private Member's Bill.

Mr. Attlee

Have the Government given any consideration to the Report of the Select Committee on Members' Expenses? If so, what arrangements are being made for the House to discuss it?

Mr. Crookshank

As far as I can make it out, everybody in the country seems to be considering this matter, and, of course, the Government are no exception. But I have no statement to make. After all, the Report was published only a week ago last Tuesday and although I know it is a matter of very intimate concern, there are other matters before us.

Lieut.-Colonel Lipton

Has the right hon. Gentleman anything to say about the Teachers (Superannuation) Bill?

Mr. Crookshank

It is not being taken next week.

Mr. Nicholson

Has any date yet been decided for the debate on the Navy Estimates?

Mr. Crookshank

It is not next week. We are taking the Air Estimates next week. I cannot go beyond that.

Mr. H. Morrison

Is there any truth in the rumour that, owing to back-bench pressure on the Government side, the Teachers (Superannuation) Bill is being dropped, or do the Government intend to proceed with it in due course?

Mr. Crookshank

What I said just now was that it was not being taken next week.

Mr. J. Hudson

In considering the Report of the Select Committee on Members' Expenses, are the Government taking into account not merely the general discussion in the country but also the fact that this was an issue submitted by the House of Commons to the Select Committee and that there is an earnest desire to have some indication when the matter will be discussed?

Mr. Crookshank

I cannot give an indication today.

Mr. Jay

Now that he has had three weeks in which to think it over, can the right hon. Gentleman tell us what the Government propose to do with the Industrial Organisation and Development Bill, or have they surrendered on that, too, to back-bench pressure?

Mr. Crookshank

I can merely repeat, it is not being taken next week.

Mr. Yates

Why is it that only one day is allotted to debate such an important matter as defence, bearing in mind that we had only one day for it last year and that many people who wished to take part in the debate were unable to do so? Cannot some discussion take place through the usual channels to enable back benchers who want to get into these debates to do so?

Mr. Crookshank

I have had no representations on this subject, and I thought one day was all that was required.

Mr. Gaitskell

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us when the Chancellor of the Exchequer will open his Budget?

Mr. Crookshank

That is still a Budget secret.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is it likely to be before Easter?

Mr. Crookshank

I will inform the House as soon as I can, but not today.

Mr. Lewis

Does the right hon. Gentleman recollect making a statement on Monday in connection with the Housing Repairs and Rents Bill? To refresh his memory, I will quote it from column 159 of Hansard: I do not see why these hon. Gentlemen assumed that there was not going to be time, because the Standing Committee can have as many meetings as they like so far as this House is concerned. All that the House says in this Motion is that the Bill has to be reported back from the Committee by 18th March …"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd February, 1954; Vol. 524, c. 159.] The right hon. Gentleman was referring to the Standing Committee and the Guillotine Motion on that Bill. As the Opposition, within that promise, for six, five and four sittings of the Committee a week, and as their request has been refused, can the right hon. Gentleman assure us that he will move an amending Motion next week to the Guillotine Motion that was passed, to give us three days on Report so that the question of rents may be discussed?

Mr. Crookshank

I do not see the connection between all this and next week's business. I have certainly not provided any time for such a purpose.

Mr. Lewis

I asked the Minister whether, in accordance with his promise, he would give us an assurance that some time next week he would move an amending Motion to that Guillotine Motion to allow us an extra day on Report so that we can discuss the matters which have been barred from discussion in Committee? Will he abide by his promise?

Mr. Blenkinsop

Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware that he has thoroughly misled the House on this point? Is it not right that he should bring in such a Motion as my hon. Friend the Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Lewis) suggests as early as possible next week?

Mr. Crookshank

I always understood that what went on in Standing Committee was not within the knowledge of the House. I have had no notice of all this. As I understand, it has something to do with what the Business Committee of the Standing Committee reported to that Committee. But I have no cognisance of it.

Mr. Attlee

The House understood from the right hon. Gentleman, when he spoke on the Guillotine Motion, that it would be for the Committee to fix the number of times they would sit. I understand that, in fact, it has been settled not by the Committee.

Mr. Crookshank

As I understand the procedure, what happens is that the Business Committee fixes it and it is decided by the main Standing Committee. As far as I know, those are the Standing Orders, although I should like to refresh my memory on the subject. That is what is supposed to happen—

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Crookshank

Let me finish the sentence. It is very disconcerting when several hon. Members intervene.

In fact, it is a decision of the Committee to accept or reject the recommendation of the Business Committee. As I say, it is all outside my province.

Mr. Lindgren

The right hon. Gentleman made the statement in the House in reply to a speech which I made in the debate, so was he not deliberately misleading the House when, in fact, the programme which was to be submitted to the Committee was already in print?

Mr. Crookshank

I cannot accept any accusations of misleading the House. Perhaps the mistake I made was in assuming that hon. Members knew the way this worked.