HC Deb 26 January 1956 vol 548 cc371-5
Mr. Gaitskell

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will state 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, 30TH JANUARY—Debate on Welsh Affairs.

TUESDAY, 31ST JANUARY AND WEDNESDAY, 1ST FEBRUARY—Committee stage of the Housing Subsidies Bill.

THURSDAY, 2ND FEBRUARY—Completion of the Committee stage of the Housing Subsidies Bill.

FRIDAY, 3RD FEBRUARY—Consideration of Private Members' Bills.

Mr. Gaitskell

In order that the debate on Welsh affairs should not be unduly restricted, will it take place on the Motion for the Adjournment? Further, can the right hon. Gentleman say when the Government will find time for a debate on capital punishment, which was promised by the Prime Minister before Christmas?

Mr. Butler

The answer concerning the debate on Welsh affairs is that discussions can certainly take place which should make it possible to have a debate on the Adjournment, if hon. Members opposite so desire, on the understanding, of course, that they avoid discussion of matters involving legislation. If that is desired, it can be arranged. On the subject of capital punishment, I am not in a position to give a definite answer about a debate but I am aware of the requests which have been made in the House on this subject, and I think that discussions should proceed through the usual channels.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the discussion of the Teachers (Superannuation) Bill, upstairs, international complications are likely to develop because the Bill has two parts, one for England and one for Scotland, and my hon. Friends from Scotland are expected to discuss the Scottish Clauses on the English Clauses and are not having the opportunity to do so? Will the right hon. Gentleman further consider the proposition that the Bill should be divided into two parts and that the second part should be remitted to the Scottish Grand Committee to be discussed simultaneously with the Bill in the English Committee?

Mr. Butler

This is a matter which has, of course, been considered before, but I can hold out no hope that, the decision having been taken, such a course of remitting the Bill to the Scottish Grand Committee can be adopted. I will, however, be ready to meet the right hon. Gentleman and to consider any difficulties that arise. I realise there has been a great deal of discussion on the Bill, and the sooner we can make progress with it the better.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that past experience shows that it is very difficult to have these two discussions taking place simultaneously in the one Committee and that it would be more satisfactory for everyone concerned if these matters could be separated in the Committee, with due respect to Scottish rights in the matter, or could be properly governed in the discussions?

Mr. Butler

In my new responsibility, I am aware of the difficulty which has come about and I have already investigated it, but I have found difficulty in going back on the decision already taken. That is why I do not want to delude the House into thinking that there is any easy way out. It is, however, more likely that there will be ample opportunity for Scottish Members to put their points than that there will be a reduced opportunity.

Mr. Benn

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when the Select Committee on the 14-day Rule is likely to be appointed?

Mr. Butler

We have had this under consideration, but I am not in a position to make a statement today. I will make one as soon as I can.

Miss Herbison

May I return to the point raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for East Stirlingshire (Mr. Woodburn)? The Leader of the House has said that it is difficult to go back on the decision taken by his predecessor, but I would point out that that decision was taken before we reached the Committee stage of the Teachers' (Superannuation) Bill. I should like the Leader of the House to have discussion with his hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, who was in the Committee this morning, to find whether he is altogether satisfied with what happened when Scottish Members attempted to take their part in the discussion during the two and a half hours of debate this morning?

There is a further point for the Leader of the House to consider. His party made it clear in Scotland that the return of a Conservative Government would mean that Scottish matters would be more and more in the hands of Scottish Members. With the decision that was taken before the Committee stage—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."] This is a most important matter. If the Leader of the House is considering it, as he has kindly said he will, he should consider these points. There are six Scottish Members and these six Members are so far finding that they can take no part in the debate on this Bill. Not only that——

Mr. Speaker

Order. This is a very long question, if, indeed, it was a question at all. It sounded more like a speech.

Mr. S. Silverman

With reference to what the right hon. Gentleman said about the coming debate on capital punishment, will he bear in mind that it seems to be the desire of the House not to have, on this occasion, an academic debate, but a debate leading to some kind of action if the House should so decide? Will the right hon. Gentleman also bear in mind, in fixing the date of the debate, not having it so late as to make legislation impossible this Session, if the House, on consideration, expresses a desire for legislation?

Mr. Butler

I realise that this is a pressing matter about which there are deep feelings on all sides of the House. I will certainly bear the hon. Member's point in mind. In answer to the hon. Lady, I will do as she requests and talk to my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary on the situation which has arisen upstairs.

Mr. H. Wilson

In view of the Chancellor's reply on Tuesday, indicating that he could not deal with a number of important economic questions raised by Question and Answer, and that this required a debate, and in view of further Answers in that vein this afternoon from Ministers, would the right hon. Gentleman say how soon the Government intend to have an economic debate, in view of the very great concern about the worsening economic situation?

Mr. Butler

Without entering into the merits of the question, I can say that we certainly have in mind the feeling that a debate should take place at some date. I am not ready to give a definite answer today. I am aware of the Motion which has just appeared on the Order Paper, which I have studied, and I am bearing what the right hon. Gentleman has in mind without giving any definite answer today.

[That this House is gravely concerned at the unprecedented increase in living costs during a period when world prices favour their reduction; declares itself completely opposed to those economic policies pursued by Her Majesty's Government which have been responsible for this increase, and condemns the Government for the irresponsible manner in which it continues to jeopardise industrial peace in pursuit of partisan ends.]

Mr. Ede

Has the right hon. Gentleman given consideration to the possibility of a debate on the Report of the Select Committee on Elections, dealing with the situation which has arisen in the Mid-Ulster constituency?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir, and the Government will have some action to propose on this matter at an early date.

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