HC Deb 01 August 1956 vol 557 cc1394-9
Mr. Gaitskell

May I ask the Lord Privy Seal whether he will state the business for the first week after the summer Recess?

The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. R. A. Butler)

Yes, Sir. The business for the first week after the Summer Recess will be as follows:

TUESDAY, 23rd October—Committee and remaining stages of the Hill Farming Bill.

Second Reading of the Education (Scotland) Bill [Lords].

WEDNESDAY, 24th October—Report stage of the Copyright Bill [Lords].

Consideration of the Motion relating to the Double Taxation Relief (Switzerland) Order.

THURSDAY, 25th October—Conclusion of the Report stage and Third Reading of the Copyright Bill [Lords].

FRIDAY, 26th October—There will be an opportunity to debate the problem of Crown Privilege for Documents and Oral Evidence on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House.

It may be convenient for me to inform the House that it is expected that Prorogation will take place during the week beginning Monday, 29th October, and that the New Session will be opened on Tuesday, 6th November.

I would remind the House that power already exists for you, Mr. Speaker, upon representations being made by the Government, to call the House together at an earlier date if such a course should be necessary in the public interest.

Mr. Gaitskell

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman why the Education (Scotland) Bill [Lords], which has been on the Order Paper for a very long time, should suddenly be taken right at the end of the Session? What is the Government's intention about the Committee stage of that Bill? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, in his absence last week I pressed the Government to find time, before the end of the Session, for a further day's debate on defence, and also for debates on the nationalised industries? Can he give an assurance that time will be found for these during the second week after the end of the Recess?

Mr. Butler

I can consider only the latter part of the right hon. Gentleman's request. We will consider it and discuss it through the usual channels. I could not give any undertaking, but I will register what he has said.

With reference to the Second Reading of the Education (Scotland) Bill [Lords], the reason we want to take it is that we want to get it through. I have made inquiries since my return and I know that Scottish Members are anxious about this matter, and in their interests we propose to take a whole day in the week succeeding 26th October for the Committee stage, on the Floor of the House. I think that that should give ample opportunity for discussion of the Bill.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this Bill, although small in number of pages, opens up a very large number of subjects and may, therefore, be subject to very considerable amendment? Has his right hon. Friend made sufficient inquiry into what is likely to be the amount of business and discussion arising in the course of this Bill?

Mr. Butler

We have made considerable inquiry. I have received a report from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland about the Bill and about the views of hon. Members who represent Scottish constituencies. We think that the arrangements which I have proposed—namely, to take the Second Reading on one day and then to give a whole day for the Committee stage—are fair and reasonable. If they are not fair and reasonable, we have plenty of time before that date to listen to the representations of hon. Members.

Mr. Woodburn

It indicates that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland is becoming a super-optimist.

Mr. Clement Davies

The right hon. Gentleman referred to the power which resides in you, Mr. Speaker, during the very long Adjournment, to call the House back on the request of the Executive. Will not the Government consider whether it is right at this time to leave that request entirely in the hands of the Executive? We are adjourning for a very long time at a difficult period. Would the Government consider whether it would not be right that the power should be exercisable by you Mr. Speaker, on the request of a certain number of hon. Members, say, 40?

Dr. Summerskill

Will the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House consider postponing the coming into operation of the Welfare Foods (Great Britain) Amendment Order, 1956, No. 1130? This Order was laid on Friday and comes into operation on 1st September. May I point out to the right hon. Gentleman—and perhaps I may evoke some sympathy—that this Order will reduce the amount of milk given in day nurseries from one-third of a pint every morning and every afternoon to one-third of a pint per day? I am sure that the Leader of the House will agree that this is an incredibly mean Order and nutritionally indefensible. My right hon. Friends therefore wish to pray against it, but if it comes into operation on 1st September we shall not have an opportunity to do so.

Mr. Butler

I roust honestly say that I have not studied the details of this Order. As the right hon. Lady obviously attaches great importance to it, perhaps I may have an opportunity to look into it before I give a considered reply.

Mr. Speaker

In reply to the right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies), I should say that the question which he raised is governed by Standing Order No. 112.

Mr. S. Silverman

Does the Leader of the House recall that, arising out of the regrettable difference of opinion between the two Houses of Parliament about the Death Penalty (Abolition) Bill, the Prime Minister promised a statement of Government policy on the future stages of that Bill before the end of the Session? Can he say when the statement will be made?

Mr. Butler

No, Sir. I can say no more than my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said, namely, that a statement will be made before the end of the Session.

Miss Herbison

Did the Leader of the House receive from the Secretary of State for Scotland not only the views of Conservative Scottish Members about the Education (Scotland) Bill [Lords] but also the views of Labour Members on the matter? Does he not realise that this is a very important Measure, and that it is very bad treatment indeed of the House that a Bill which has been on the Order Paper for very many months should be crushed into the last two weeks of the Session?

Mr. Butler

My right hon. Friend told me of the views of hon. Members opposite as well as the views of hon. Members on this side of the House who represent Scottish constituencies. I have here a full memorandum from him, with a copy of the Bill and what we think are likely to be the most difficult features of it. We think that the procedure which we suggest is reasonable for Scottish Members. If it is not, they have an opportunity to tell us so during the Recess.

Dame Irene Ward

When my right hon. Friend is considering the allocation of the days when we return, will he bear in mind that we still have not had a debate on the Phillips Report, and that there are quite a lot of things which I would willingly postpone if we could have a debate on that Report?

Mr. Butler

I see no opportunity in the near future on having a debate on the Phillips Report.

Mr. Hobson

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the question of having a debate on the Herbert Report on the Electricity Supply Industry between the end of the Recess and the Prorogation?

Mr. Butler

That depends on whether we find it possible on a day when we discuss the nationalised industries.

Mr. Wigg

The right hon. Gentleman is doubtless aware that all sections of the Army Reserve can be called out for service at home without Proclamation, but that Section B and lower categories can be called out for service overseas only after Proclamation. Would he give the House an assurance, in view of the Press reports this morning, that if Section A is called out for service overseas the House will be recalled?

Mr. Butler

I cannot give any such assurance without examining the statement which the hon. Member has made, the clarity and accuracy of which I believe to be correct.

Mr. E. Fletcher

Can the Lord Privy Seal tell us whether we shall have an opportunity, before the end of the Session, of considering the White Paper on Local Government; Areas and Status of Local Authorities in England and Wales?

Mr. Butler

The first thing is to see the White Paper and then to consider it. I think that we had better see it first.

Mr. Willey

As the Lord Privy Seal has kindly indicated that he is willing to review the cut in the supply of milk to children at nursery schools, and as it appears that it has been imposed without his knowledge, I beg to give notice, to assist the Lord Privy Seal in coming to a better conclusion in advising the Government about the matter, that I shall endeavour to raise this topic during the course of today's proceedings.

Mr. Butler

My remarks were made entirely without prejudice. I always believe that when one is not in possession of the facts, it is better to tell the House. I was not in possession of the facts in respect of this particular matter, and I should like to examine the facts—in response to what the right hon. Lady put to me—before I make a statement.

Mr. Rankin

Is the Leader of the House aware that the anxiety of Scottish Members about the Education (Scotland) Bill [Lords] was due to the fact that they desired sufficient time to discuss the Bill? I understand that that position was accepted on behalf of the Government. Is he now aware that the introduction of what is, in fact, a time-table to dispose of the Bill is a gross breach of faith with the Opposition?

Mr. Maude

Is my right hon. Friend aware that hon. Members representing non-county boroughs in the County of Middlesex, having read the White Paper on Local Government, are deeply disturbed about its implications and would very much welcome the earliest possible opportunity of debating it in order to discover the intentions of the Government?

Mr. Butler

One of the objects of publishing the White Paper before the Recess was to obtain the reactions of local authorities. My hon. Friend has given me a violent reaction which will be noted. When we have some more reactions, some of which may be more favourable, we can consider time for a discussion.

Mr. Bowles

Can the right hon. Gentleman say what are the proposals about the House of Commons Disqualification Bill, which was reported back last Thursday? Will it be reintroduced next Session, if it cannot be dealt with this Session?

Mr. Butler

We will have to see when we can fit that in. It is an important matter and we should not lose much more time in dealing with it.