HC Deb 21 January 1954 vol 522 cc1203-6
Mr. Attlee

May I ask the Lord Privy Seal what is the business for next week?

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Harry Crook shank)

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

Monday, 25th January—Second Reading: Baking Industry (Hours of Work) Bill.

Committee stage: Money Resolution;

We shall also ask the House to take the Committee stage of the Money Resolution necessary for the Juries Bill, which is a Private Member's Measure.

Tuesday, 26th January—Motion to refer the Long Leases (Scotland) Bill to the Scottish Standing Committee for Second Reading under the provisions of Standing Order No. 60.

Second Reading: Development of Inventions Bill.

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

Committee stage: Currency and Bank Notes Bill.

Wednesday, 27th January—Second Reading: Landlord and Tenant Bill.

Committee stage: Money Resolution.

Thursday, 28th January—Second Reading: Merchant Shipping Bill.

Committee and remaining stages: Licensing (Seamen's Canteens) Bill [Lords].

Remaining stages: Currency and Bank Notes Bill.

Friday, 29th January—Private Members' Bills.

Mr. C. Davies

Would the right hon. Gentleman consider fitting in another day in the near future for a discussion of Welsh affairs? He will remember that the day we had recently was limited to one particular matter, namely, the Report on Rural Industries by the Council for Wales and Monmouthshire.

Mr. Crookshank

It is about this time of the year that we have the annual debate on Wales. I believe it would be a good idea to wait until 1st March, but, I hope that we may be able to fit it in not next week but during the week after.

Mr. Attlee

Will the Government consider providing an opportunity for a debate on roads? I suggest that it ought to be a two-day debate because it is a matter which concerns many different parts of the country and many hon. Members. Secondly, could the right hon. Gentleman provide perhaps half a day to discuss the Report of the Select Committee on House of Commons Accommodation, etc.?

Mr. Crookshank

I had not expected the right hon. Gentleman to suggest a two-day debate on roads, particularly as we are entering the season of Supply Days. It is possible that a debate on a Supply Day might meet the point. Alternatively, we are still in the period when Private Members' Motions are balloted for, and when very good opportunities are open to Private Members to initiate debates, whereas, as far as the Government are concerned, we have not got very many days at our disposal at this time of the year. However, if the right hon. Gentleman likes to have conversations about this matter, we can talk about it. [Laughter.] Well, that is exactly the purpose of conversations, and that was what I was offering to do.

On the second point, concerning the half-day to discuss the Report of the Select Committee on Accommodation, etc., I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not press me at this moment. He knows that the Committee, under the chairmanship of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes), has produced a first Report, and I thought that probably hon. Members individually would like to consider the points made there first. That is what the Government are doing; we have the Report under review at present. In the nature of the case, some suggestions would involve expenditure, and we are having some figures worked out to see what the possible cost of all these proposals might be. If the right hon. Gentleman would defer any question of a debate for the present and let private talks go on among hon. Members in all quarters of the House, I think it would perhaps be the quickest way of dealing with the situation, especially in view of the fact that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has some say in these matters, is not at present available.

Mr. Attlee

The right hon. Gentleman will realise that we have had a Ministerial statement on roads of considerable importance. With regard to the other matter, I think it is important that it should not hang over for too long, but that we should get something done.

Mr. Crookshank

I know that there is a time consideration, because if much is to be done it can only be done during the Recess. I am quite well aware of the right hon. Gentleman's point of view, but I assure him that it does not detract from what I have already said.

Miss Ward

In view of the approach of the Budget, would my right hon. Friend provide time for a debate on the Motion standing in my name and the names of some of my hon. Friends so that the Chancellor of the Exchequer may have the latest up-to-date information about the progress of equal pay?

Mr. Crookshank

There is nothing to prevent my hon. Friend from providing the Chancellor with that information without necessarily having a debate. I could not find time for a debate on this Motion, but perhaps the hon. Lady would like to ballot for it on the next occasion.

Miss Ward


Mr. Pannell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the hon. Lady's Motion was put down only in the last day or two, and that it is a very dilatory Motion? It is preceded by one which was put down by my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Houghton) and myself, which follows upon a debate in which the House reaffirmed the principle of equal pay on 16th May, 1952. Does the Minister appreciate, and, if so, will he bring before the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the feeling on both sides of the House that this matter brooks no further delay at all?

Mr. McGovern

Has the attention of the Leader of the House been drawn to the Motion which has been placed on the Order Paper dealing with the subject of agents provocateurs? As it deals with a tendency towards the development of the police State will he treat this matter as urgent and give the House an opportunity to discuss the matter?

Mr. Crookshank

I thought I heard my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland answer a Question on this subject yesterday.

Mr. Nicholson

Has the attention of my right hon. Friend been drawn to the report of the Select Committee on Delegated Legislation? If so, how is his mind working about it?

Mr. Crookshank

We have read with interest this Report, and the evidence, of course, has only been published last week. There is a great deal which is of very great interest in the evidence, too. All I can say is that it is receiving active consideration and that I hope that hon. Members will be forming their own conclusions about it. This is not a matter which has anything to do with the Government. It is purely for the House of Commons to decide how it wants to deal with delegated legislation. I would hesitate to bring forward any views of my own, as Leader of the House, until I knew the feelings of hon. Members in all parties.

Mr. Rankin

In view of the deplorable ignorance which Scottish Ministers revealed yesterday in the debate on the Housing Repairs and Rents (Scotland) Bill Money Resolution, can we be assured that they will be properly briefed about the forthcoming Long Leases (Scotland) Bill?

Mr. Crookshank

I am surprised at the hon. Gentleman's making such an accusation against my right hon. Friends and I entirely repudiate it.

Mr. P. Morris

Is the Leader of the House not aware that the annual report on Government activity in Wales dates from June to June, and that when he suggests 1st March he is simply asking us to discuss a report that is about 10 months old? Does that not add fuel to the fire of Welsh Nationalism, which accuses Parliament of treating Wales unfairly?

Mr. Crookshank

That is one of the reasons why I suggested that the debate should take place in the first week of February.