HC Deb 08 December 1955 vol 547 cc558-62

Mr. H. Morrison rose

Hon. Members

Hear, hear.

Mr. Morrison

I have not the least idea what all these cheers are about. May I ask the Leader of the House whether he would state the business which the Government propose to submit next week?

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Harry Crook-shank)

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

MONDAY, 12TH DECEMBER—Debate on the Middle East, which will take place on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House.

TUESDAY, 13TH DECEMBER—Third Reading of the Finance Bill.

Second Reading of the Agricultural Research Bill.

WEDNESDAY, 14TH DECEMBER—Committee stage of the Housing Subsidies Bill.

THURSDAY, 15TH DECEMBER—Second Reading of the Valuation and Rating (Scotland) Bill.

Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

FRIDAY, 16TH DECEMBER—Consideration of Private Members' Motions.

If satisfactory progress is made with outstanding business, it is hoped to adjourn for the Christmas Recess on Wednesday, 21st December, until Tuesday, 24th January next.

Mr. Morrison

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when the Government propose to produce the intended Bill on road transport—in respect of the lorries—and whether we shall be likely to have the White Fish Subsidy Scheme and the debate on it before the Recess?

Mr. Crookshank

On the first point, I have no statement to make. On the second point, I hope that we may be able to take that business.

Mr. Morrison

I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman can tell us whether he is in trouble on the first point, concerning lorries. Would he like to take us into his confidence and indicate whether he has trouble within his ranks about it, because we might be able to help him? Might I also ask him whether he can make any statement about the proposed debate on agriculture?

Mr. Crookshank

No, Sir. I said last week that I did not see any likelihood of having a debate on agriculture this side of Christmas.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Part II of the Teachers (Superannuation) Bill, which has just had its Second Reading, refers exclusively to Scotland and Part I exclusively to England and Wales? Would it not be for the convenience of hon. Members on both sides of the House, and both sides of the Border, if Part II could, as was done on a previous Bill, be referred to the Scottish Standing Committee? Will the right hon. Gentleman give consideration to that point?

Mr. Crookshank

I am not sure that it would be to the general convenience to split up a Bill of this kind. In this instance, the same system applies to both countries. Therefore, it is reasonable that it should go to a Committee in the ordinary way, as it is a United Kingdom matter.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, if the Bill goes to one of the ordinary Standing Committees, it will be impossible for many Scottish hon. Members to take part in its proceedings; and a considerable number on both sides of the House are interested in it? Would it not facilitate progress if the two Standing Committees were marching together, as they did on a previous occasion? Will the right hon. Gentleman reconsider the matter? There was a separate Bill on the last occasion.

Mr. Crookshank

I do not know the "last occasion" to which the right hon. Gentleman is referring, unless it was the occasion of the Measures dealing with local government. In that case, the systems in the two countries were different, and that was why a division was made. I do not think it would be to the convenience of hon. Members if the present Bill were divided.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that on a previous occasion when we were dealing with superannuation legislation there were two separate Bills? While we are not denying the convenience to the Government of having everything in one Bill, we suggest that hon. Members from both countries, for their convenience, should be allowed to discuss their business in their separate Committees.

Mr. Crookshank

If there were two separate Bills on a previous occasion, it was no doubt because they dealt with two rather different aspects of the subject, whereas in this case it is the same subject which is under consideration.

Mr. Mason

Will time be found before the Recess to debate the issue of the cessation of thermo-nuclear tests and the allied question of the visit of the Prime Minister to President Eisenhower on 30th January?

Mr. Daines

May I ask the Leader of the House whether we are to have a day to debate foreign affairs generally before the Recess, in view of the aftermath of Geneva and also the coming visit of the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary to America?

Mr. Crookshank

No, Sir, not that I know of, but we are to have a day on a large aspect of foreign affairs—namely, the Middle East—on Monday.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Returning to the question of the Teachers' (Superannuation) Bill, as the right hon. Gentleman bases his objection to the reasonable request of my right hon. Friend the Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn) on the fact that it would be inconvenient to divide this Bill into two parts, may I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House does not realise that the Bill is already divided into two parts and, therefore, could reasonably be taken in two separate Committees?

Mr. Paget

Could the right hon. Gentleman consider our sitting for an additional hour on Monday? As he has observed, the debate covers a very wide subject and it is one on which many hon. Members will want to speak—many more than will have the opportunity of catching your eye, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Crookshank

I have not had any request for that. If there were an official request no doubt we would consider it.

Mr. H. Morrison

I gather that a considerable number of hon. Members would like to speak in that debate and I think that the request made by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) is, in the circumstances, not unreasonable and that we should have an extra hour on Monday for this debate, if that is acceptable to the Government.

Mr. Crookshank

May I consider that and take note of what the right hon. Gentleman has said? I never like to give a snap answer to a question like that.

Mr. S. Silverman

Can the Leader of the House yet say on what day the debate on capital punishment, promised by the Prime Minister, is to take place and what form that debate will take?

Mr. Crookshank

No. Sir, I cannot go any further than what the Prime Minister said on 24th November.

Mr. Warbey

May I reinforce the request put forward by my hon. Friend for East Ham, North (Mr. Daines) for a general debate on foreign affairs before the Recess? We have the whole vast range of matters covered by the Geneva Conference, about which we have had no debate whatever, and we really should have a debate before the Recess.

Mr. Lewis

With reference to the statement about the long Christmas Recess, in view of the fact that last week, and again this week, the Leader of the House has had to refuse a number of legitimate requests by my hon. Friends for debates on very important subjects, could the right hon. Gentleman arrange for the House to reassemble one week earlier after Christmas and to have debates on the Adjournment on those various matters and on various Private Members' Motions which are on the Order Paper? Everyone would welcome the opportunity to come back a week earlier.

Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

There is bound to be a Motion to that effect, when the matter can be discussed.

Mr. Crookshank

I would only say, in reply to the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. Lewis), that the Recess proposed for this Christmas is exactly the same number of days as that proposed for last Christmas.

Mr. Lewis

It is still too long.