HC Deb 24 January 1956 vol 548 cc37-9
Mr. Gaitskell

May I ask the Leader of the House, whom we welcome to his new post, whether he has any statement to make on business?

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

After discussions through the usual channels, arrangements have been made for a debate to take place today on the White Paper on the Export of Surplus War Material, and, accordingly, the Adjournment of the House will be moved before the Orders of the Day.

We shall not, therefore, proceed with the Housing Subsidies Bill today.

The business previously announced for the remainder of the week we propose to leave unaltered.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that as the debate will be on the Adjournment, it can, of course, be rather wider than the White Paper? Is he further aware that that was what we asked the Prime Minister on 2nd January, and repeated further in discussions through the usual channels?

Mr. Butler

It is not for me to question what the right hon. Gentleman put to the Prime Minister originally, but, as we understood it, the original request was for a debate on the disposal of war material. Later, the right hon. Gentleman inserted into the discussion the suggestion that the debate might be wider. The right hon. Gentleman also asked on behalf of his right hon. and hon. Friends for a White Paper. The White Paper has accordingly been published, and Government spokesmen will answer on all matters in the White Paper, with, I am sure, complete success. The debate is on the Adjournment, and there is nothing to stop hon. Members from raising any subject they like, but the Government will answer as they think best the questions asked by the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends.

Mr. Shinwell

Is it the position, then, that we are not discussing the White Paper, but the general situation in the Middle East?

Mr. Butler

No. The position is as I stated in my original answer. The Opposition asked for a White Paper to be debated before the Prime Minister left for America. That is being deliberately debated today and answered by Ministers on behalf of the Government. As I stated, the debate is on the Adjournment, and, accordingly, hon. Members will be able to make any speech they like, but the answers given will be on the White Paper.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, since the debate is on the Adjournment, it is our intention—as I made clear to the Prime Minister—to raise certain matters connected with the Middle East generally—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—and that it always was our desire to do this—among them the subjects which were discussed with the Prime Minister on 2nd January and which were covered in the communiqué issued at that time? Is the right hon. Gentleman further aware that while we appreciate the desire, no doubt, of the Foreign Secretary to be a little reticent before he leaves for Washington, we hope that, nevertheless, he will be able to make some comment on what we have to say on the situation generally?

Mr. Butler

The right hon. Gentleman has taken the words out of my mouth, namely, that before my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary leaves for America he will, rightly I think, use what language he thinks will best serve the ends of peace at the present time and the negotiations taking place in America. Nothing will stop the right hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends from raising what subjects they like in this debate, but the original intention was to debate the White Paper.

May I say, in conclusion, that I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his kindly remarks and that I will do my best in my new office to serve the best interests of hon. Members and of the House.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Heath.]