HC Deb 17 February 1955 vol 537 cc564-9
Mr. Attlee

May I ask the Lord Privy Seal to 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, 21st February—Debate on a Government Motion inviting the House to approve the Agreement concerning the relations between the United Kingdom and the European Coal and Steel Community, until 7 o'clock.

Afterwards, a debate will take place on the work of the Council of Europe on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Tuesday, 22nd February—Second Readings: Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Bill.

Rural Water Supplies and Sewerage Bill.

Committee stage, Money Resolution.

Report and Third Reading: National Service Bill.

Wednesday, 23rd February—Committee and remaining stages: Transport (Borrowing Powers) Bill.

Motion to approve: Town and Country Planning (Minerals) (Scotland) Regulations.

Thursday, 24th February—Supply [2nd Allotted Day]:

Committee stage: Civil Estimates and Estimates for Revenue Departments, Vote on Account, 1955–56.

Debate on Monopolies.

Friday, 25th February—Private Members' Motions.

Mr. Bevan

Is the Leader of the House aware that there appears on the Order Paper a Motion in the names of more than 100 hon. Members? If so, when does he propose to give time for its discussion?

[That this House regrets the failure of Her Majesty's Government to carry out the resolution unanimously passed by this House on the 5th April, 1954, which declared: That this House, recognising the hydrogen bomb with its immense range and powers as disclosed by recent experiments constitutes a grave threat to civilisation and that any recourse to war may lead to its use, would welcome an immediate initiative by Her Majesty's Government to bring about a meeting between the Prime Minister and the Heads of Administration of the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics for the purpose of considering anew the problem of the reduction and control of armaments and of devising positive policies and means for removing from all the peoples of the world the fear which now oppresses them and for the strengthening of collective peace throughout the United Nations organisation; considers that the unwillingness of the Government to act in the spirit of this resolution displays a contempt for the decision of the House of Commons; in particular, deplores the Government's present refusal to take part in discussions with the Soviet Government on the future of Germany before all the countries involved have ratified the Paris Treaties; and further considers that these rejections of the opportunities for negotiation constitute a conspicuous failure to appreciate the gravity of the crisis in the affairs of mankind.]

Mr. Crookshank

I think that by now everybody is aware of the existence of this Motion, but I am afraid there is no possibility of my finding time for it at present.

Mr. Bevan

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that hon. Members have their privileges and rights and that if he finds no time for discussion in the ordinary way it might be that we should seek to use the procedure of the House to compel a discussion?

Mr. Crookshank

I recognise that, but the right hon. Gentleman will have noticed that there is already one day on foreign affairs next week.

Mr. Bevan


Mr. Crookshank

Certainly. There is the debate on the Council of Europe and European matters, as requested by the Opposition.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Would my right hon. Friend take note of the fact that the Far East crisis has not been discussed by this House, whereas it has been fully discussed on the radio and in the Press and in all other political circles? Should my right hon. Friend, in the course of next week, receive representations from various quarters of the House—as he is most unlikely to receive them through the usual channels—would he be good enough to consider whether a debate on the subject might take place in the following week?

Mr. Crookshank

There are, of course, many kinds of usual channels.

Mr. Strachey

Does not the Leader of the House agree that it is already apparent that, whatever views various hon. Members may take on the Motion on the Order Paper in the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), there is no subject of greater interest throughout the House? Would he, therefore, not be well advised, sooner rather than later, to find time for a discussion upon it, which would embrace a discussion of the subjects just mentioned by the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke)?

Mr. Crookshank

The right hon. Gentleman put his finger on the point when he used the words "sooner or later." I was saying that sooner is not suitable.

Mr. Strachey

I said "sooner rather than later."

Sir R. Boothby

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether it is his intention to provide a day in the near future to discuss the Report of the Royal Commission on Betting and Lotteries, because if we are never to discuss it there does not seem to have been much object in having set up the Commission?

Mr. Crookshank

I have not taken that into consideration very recently, but a Bill dealing with one aspect of these matters has been set down for discussion tomorrow.

Mr. Wyatt

Could the Leader of the House say whether it is proposed to have a separate day to debate the deplorable and misleading White Paper on the Supply of Military Aircraft, so that we do not interfere with the debate on defence and on the Air Estimates?

Mr. Crookshank

I could not accept any of those adjectives about the recently published White Paper, but, as the hon. Member knows, from next week onwards we shall be concerned almost continuously with defence matters, and I have no doubt that it will be arranged for this matter to arise in one or other of the debates.

Mr. Nicholson

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that a large body of opinion in the House would regret the arrangement of a debate on foreign affairs in the absence of the Foreign Secretary?

Mr. Crookshank

That just shows how many different usual channels there are.

Mr. Edelman

Will the Leader of the House say whether he proposes shortly to afford time for a debate on the Government's new atomic energy programme?

Mr. Crookshank

Whether we have a debate or not, I think every hon. Member would want time to read the Report.

Mr. Ross

Has the Leader of the House seen a Motion on the Order Paper in the names of many Scottish hon. Members deploring the fact that in the recent debate on the Report on Capital Punishment no Government statement was made about the specific recommendations relating to the practice and the law in Scotland? In view of that, will he arrange for this matter to be debated at an early date? No Scottish hon. Member caught your eye on that day, Mr. Speaker. It may not be the Government's fault. But the fact is that we understand that the Government propose to make some changes, and it surely would be unwise to do so without having a proper debate on the subject in the House.

Mr. Crookshank

I noticed this Motion on the Order Paper, but I also notice that Motions are put down almost every day and I cannot promise time for all of them, especially at a time when the Ballot for Private Members' Motions is still open.

Mr. Nally

Is the Leader of the House aware that the faint hope which we have of discussing the Private Member's Bill tomorrow relates only to quite minormatters affecting the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Betting and Lotteries? May I put this point to him, as I have put it to him before: he will be aware that the Royal Commission was set up under the chairmanship of a former Conservative Minister, that it was set up in April, 1949, and that it made its recommendations. I think, in March, 1951. There were two years' hard work on that Report and many of the facts and figures are becoming out of date. If the right hon. Gentleman is not prepared to find time for a discussion of the Royal Commission's Report, will he be good enough, on behalf of the Government and the Opposition, to send a letter to the members of the Commission apologising for the contempt and indifference with which their two years of work is being treated?

Mr. Bing

Despite his very full programme for next week, would the Leader of the House find time for a statement by the Foreign Secretary on the legal position of Formosa, in view of the fact that the Senate of the United States has ratified the Treaty with Chiang Kai-shek on exactly contrary legal principles to those set out in a Written answer by the Foreign Secretary?

Mr. S. Silverman

Reverting to the question by the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke), and having regard to the very discouraging answer which the Leader of the House gave to the question of my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), can he say at what stage the House may have an opportunity of discussing the critical state of affairs in the Far East so as to enable it to understand at least what Government policy is? If the usual channels in this matter are getting a little obscure, perhaps the noble Lord and I might be able to clear them up for the right hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Crookshank

The hon. Member seems to be asking about a different point. The Motion of his right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) has nothing to do with Formosa at all. It is quite a different set of problems. All I said was that I am unable to find any time next week for a debate on this subject, but we are in the Supply season and it is open to the Opposition to ask for a debate when they like. In fact, there is a Supply day next week and they have chosen the subject of monopolies.

Mr. Bevan

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Resolution which the House carried unanimously last April would embrace the Far East as well as Europe—all causes of tension in the world and a desire for their reduction—and therefore is an all-embracing Resolution which the Government have neglected for nearly a year?

Mr. Harold Davies

Does not the Leader of the House realise that it is the duty of the House to try to clarify Britain's objective in Far Eastern, policy? Does he not think that before his right hon. Friend goes to Bangkok it is the duty of the House to discuss the position so that the people of Britain can see that we shall not be involved in any adventure whatever against China?