HC Deb 26 July 1956 vol 557 cc643-7
Mr. Gaitskell

May I ask the Prime Minister whether he will announce the business for next week?

The Prime Minister

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

MONDAY, 30TH JULY—Consideration of the Lords Amendments to the Restrictive Trade Practices Bill; to the Road Traffic Bill; and to the Marriage (Scotland) Bill, which is a Private Member's Bill.

Consideration of the Motion to set up a Select Committee on Procedure.

TUESDAY, 31ST JULY—Second Reading of the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill, which it is proposed to take formally.

There will then be a debate on Manpower and Defence, which will take place on an Opposition Motion.

WEDNESDAY, 1ST AUGUST—Committee and Third Reading of the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill.

The following subjects will be debated:

The case of the Chief Justice of the Seychelles.

The Motor Car Industry.

The position of Seretse Khama.

During the week we shall ask the House to consider any further Amendments to Bills which may be received from another place, and complete the Committee and remaining stages of the Overseas Resources Development Bill and the Crown Estate Bill, if not completed on Friday of this week.

If all necessary business is disposed of, it is hoped to adjourn for the Summer Recess on Thursday, 2nd August, until Tuesday, 23rd October.

It is proposed to meet at 11 a.m. on Thursday, 2nd August, to take Questions until 12 noon, and to adjourn at 5 p.m.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is the Prime Minister aware that the debate on Tuesday, on an Opposition Motion, is intended to be principally about manpower in relation to defence, and that, in our opinion, it is most desirable that there should be a further wider debate on defence in the autumn, before the end of the Session. to cover a number of questions which cannot be covered in a single day's debate at this time? Is he further aware that we hope the Government will find time for debates on some, at least, of the nationalised industries before the end of the Session?

The Prime Minister

I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. That is why I put manpower in front of defence, as I understand that it is not weapons so much as manpower which the Opposition wish to discuss. No doubt we can discuss the question of defence through the usual channels. In principle, I am certainly not against that discussion taking place in the autumn, or the other matters that the right hon. Gentleman mentioned.

Mr. Shinwell

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman one or two questions, one about a matter to which the right hon. Gentleman has just made reference? Is it clearly understood, that, within the terms of the Motion on Tuesday, the subject of defence can be considered in addition to the subject of manpower, but that it will be difficult to dissociate the two questions? Does the right hon. Gentleman understand that? Further, is is clearly understood that we cannot be precluded from debating defence? Finally, I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, in connection with his announcement that the House will be in recess until Tuesday, 23rd October, that means that the Recess this year will actually be longer than it was last year? If so, is that advisable in the circumstances?

The Prime Minister

The range of the debate on Tuesday depends upon the Motion which will be tabled by the Opposition. I have no responsibility in the matter except to arrange for the Opposition's time, and they then table what Motion they like. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will have telegraphic exchanges with the two benches in front of him and come to any conclusions he likes. As far as we are concerned, it is entirely a matter for the Opposition to decide what the terms of the Motion are and for you, Mr. Speaker, to say what comes within the rules of order. That is just one of those things with which, fortunately, the Government have nothing whatever to do. On the question of the Recess, I should like to reassure the right hon. Gentleman that it will be a week shorter this time than it was last year.

Sir I. Fraser

My right hon. Friend has announced the date of the Committee stage and Third Reading of the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill for Wednesday and has indicated three subjects which may be given a kind of preference. You, Mr. Speaker, in answer to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) have, perhaps, given him reason for hoping that he will catch your eye that day. May I ask you whether it is not the custom of the House that there should be a free opportunity for all who wish, so far as is reasonable, to debate any matter which comes into their minds without necessarily being restricted by the Leader of the House or by any predilection for any particular Members?

Mr. Speaker

What the hon. Member says is quite right. In the debate on the Consolidated Fund Bill any matters of ministerial responsibility, within the rules applying to Supply, are debatable, as far as I am concerned; but it has been customary, of course, over a large number of years now, for both sides of the House to indicate which subjects they want to discuss. But these are matters of party arrangement and are nothing to do with the rules of order or with my responsibility.

Mr. J. Hynd

It will probably have been brought to the Prime Minister's attention that there are at least two Motions on the Order Paper dealing with a common market in Western Europe, in one case signed by nearly 90 members of his own party and 70 or 75 Members of the Opposition. Do I understand that, in spite of that fact, we are not to have an opportunity of debating this very important matter before the Recess?

[That this House expresses agreement in principle on the establishment by stages of a common market in Western Europe and urges Her Majesty's Government to accept the invitation to participate in the negotiations currently taking place on the subject between the representatives of Belgium, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands, with a view to ensuring that if, or when, any treaty is signed the way will be open for British participation in the common market on an acceptable basis and in accordance with the interests of the Commonwealth and Empire.]

[That this House, while recognising that there would be both advantages and disadvantages for this country in membership of the proposed common market, and that it would be necessary for the United Kingdom, as for each other country, to seek appropriate compensating concessions for the risks and sacrifices involved (such as Imperial Preference), nonetheless urges Her Majesty's Government to accept the invitation to participate in the negotiations among the other six member countries of Western European Union and endeavour to negotiate arrangements which would make it possible for the United Kingdom to participate in the advance towards a common market without detriment to the interests of the Commonwealth.]

The Prime Minister

I think that the matter was referred to in the recent foreign affairs debate. In any event, we could not give time, obviously, before the House rises next week.

Mr. Holt

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether we are to have an opportunity of debating the Herbert Report on the electricity supply industry before the end of the Session?

The Prime Minister

I am dealing only with next week's business. That is a matter which could be discussed.

Mr. Lewis

Does the Prime Minister recollect making a speech a week or so ago in which he said that he and the Government wanted to set an example to the country—it was on the question of Members' salaries? Is he aware that people generally believe, whether we here believe it or not, that the House has far too long Recesses? Would he consider this and set an example to the country?

The Prime Minister

I have looked carefully into the figures concerning Recesses. The coming Recess bears an average to what has been done over a considerable number of years.

Mr. Lewis

The Prime Minister should set a new example.

The Prime Minister

I think we have a responsibility to explain to the country that we have other duties in addition to those actually carried out here in Parliament, and that the sense of Parliament should be that we must allow ourselves time for their proper discharge.