HC Deb 06 December 1956 vol 561 cc1449-52
Mr. Gaitskell

May I ask the Lord Privy Seal whether he will announce the business for next week?

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

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

MONDAY, 10TH DECEMBER—Second Reading of the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Bill.

It is hoped to obtain the Second Reading by about 7 p.m. which would allow additional time for the Consideration of the Opposition Prayer relating to Petrol Rationing.

TUESDAY, 11TH DECEMBER—Second Reading of the Ghana Independence Bill, which it is hoped to obtain by about 7 p.m.

Afterwards, we shall consider the Motion to approve the Draft British Egg Marketing Scheme.

WEDNESDAY, 12TH DECEMBER—Committee stage of the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Bill.

Consideration of the Motions relating to the Pensions (Increase) Act (Extension) Order; and to the Draft Police Pensions (No. 3) Regulations and similar Regulations for Scotland.

THURSDAY, 13TH DECEMBER—Concluding stages of the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Bill, which it is hoped to obtain by 7 p.m.

Consideration of the Motions to approve the Draft Housing Subsidies Order; and the Draft Visiting Forces (Application of Law) Order.

FRTOAY, 14TH DECEMBER—Consideration of Private Members' Motions.

Mr. Gaitskell

Would the Leader of the House agree that the time at which the Second Reading of the Hydrocarbon Oil Duties Bill is to be obtained on Monday should be treated as flexible? The whole day is to be devoted either to that Bill or to petrol rationing, as may be convenient. Secondly, will he bear in mind the importance of a wider economic debate, before the Christmas Recess, on the new economic situation as disclosed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer's statement this week?

Mr. Butler

We will certainly take note of the latter part of the right hon. Gentleman's request. Seven o'clock is not a sacrosanct hour. The Order has to be obtained by 11.30 p.m. and the idea was to give time for petrol rationing to be discussed. If, between ourselves, we can agree on a later time for starting the debate on petrol rationing, we shall be quite agreeable.

Sir R. Boothby

Will the Leader of the House consider the possibility of finding time before the Christmas Recess for a debate on the present situation in Hungary?

Mr. Butler

Nothing could be more human or nearer to our hearts than the position in Hungary, but I cannot undertake to find time for such a debate. I will discuss it through the usual channels and, as it has been raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Sir R. Boothby), also with him.

Mr. Gaitskell

May I say that, for our part, we should warmly welcome a debate on the situation in Hungary?

Mr. Hobson

Will the right hon. Gentleman say when Her Majesty's Government will be placing on the Order Paper a Motion asking the House to approve the setting up of an Estimates Committee? Why has there been a delay of four weeks in this being done?

Mr. Butler

The Motion has been handed in today and will appear on the Order Paper tomorrow.

Mr. N. Pannell

May I enter a plea about the closing hour for the debate on the Ghana Independence Bill, on Tuesday? May I ask that this hour, too, shall be regarded as elastic, so that hon. Members who wish to speak on this important constitutional question may have an opportunity to do so?

Mr. Butler

That is a very important point and we will bear it in mind, on the understanding that we wish to get the Draft British Egg Marketing Scheme as well.

Mr. H. Wilson

In view of the extremely grave statement made last Tuesday by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the need for all possible appropriate measures to stabilise the economy and to strengthen the defences of the £, will the Government, as the first contribution, withdraw the Rent Bill from next week's business?

Mr. Butler

Certainly not, Sir.

Mr. Daines

May I ask the Leader of the House whether, in view of Press reports, he could tell us when the Prime Minister is coming home?

Mr. Butler

All I can say is that the Prime Minister went away for three weeks. At the end of three weeks it is likely that he will come home.

Mr. Gower

Has my right hon. Friend had time to consider a question which I asked a fortnight ago—namely, whether he thinks that the Private Bill procedure is an appropriate way in which to consider the Liverpool Corporation Bill, which has such a tremendous impact on a part of North Wales?

Mr. Butler

There is a difficulty about this matter, because the Bill is a Private Bill and not a Public Bill and is not covered by Standing Order No. 58. It therefore could not be considered by the particular Standing Committee to which my hon. Friend no doubt wishes to make reference. If he would care to discuss this difficulty with me, I should be glad.

Mrs. L. Jeger

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when the House may expect to hear something of Lord Radcliffe's proposals for Cyprus, which we are all awaiting with great anxiety?

Mr. Butler

We cannot do everything before Christmas—[HON. MEMBERS: "You could resign."]—but I should like to be able to say that there will be a report on this matter before we rise. I cannot, however, give any absolute undertaking. The matter is at present under the close consideration of Her Majesty's Government.

Mr. J. Griffiths

The right hon. Gentleman will understand that it is desirable to have—indeed, the House has the right to have—an assurance that we shall have a statement from the Government about Cyprus before we rise for the Christmas Recess?

Mr. Butler

We have this matter under close consideration. Naturally, this matter is of the highest importance and we will do our best.

Mr. K. Thompson

My right hon. Friend has just given my hon. Friend the Member for Barry (Mr. Gower) an assurance about the possible procedure before the Liverpool Corporation Bill is considered. Will he give an assurance that in any such conversations which might affect the course which this Bill will take in the House, the representatives of the City of Liverpool will also have an opportunity of being heard?

Mr. Butler

That is so, Sir.

Mr. Ross

Can the Leader of the House tell us whether the unusual delay in setting up the Estimates Committee is due to the fact that the former Chairman has been very busy with other matters?

Mr. Butler

No, Sir. We have put it down in the normal course of business.

Mr. D. Jones

On 9th June, 1955, the Prime Minister gave a promise to introduce legislation dealing with the Gowers Report so far as it relates to railways. A week ago the Leader of the House gave me another promise. Do I have to wait for another 18 months for a reply on that matter?

Mr. Butler

No, Sir. We have a very full legislative programme. We are implementing the Gowers proposals by degrees. We have already implemented the Gowers proposals in respect of agriculture and we expect to implement the Gowers proposals in respect of shops and similiar establishments during this Session. The case of the railways is very important, As the Government have a long life before them, the hon. Member may be satisfied that this proposal will be reached.