HC Deb 21 June 1956 vol 554 cc1631-8
Mr. Gaitskell

May I ask the Lord Privy Seal 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, 25TH JUNE—Committee stage of the Finance (No. 2) Bill.

TUESDAY, 26TH JUNE—It is hoped to conclude the Committee stage of the Finance (No. 2) Bill.

WEDNESDAY, 27TH JUNE—Report and Third Reading of the Valuation and Rating (Scotland) Bill.

It is proposed to suspend the Ten o'clock rule for one hour for this Bill.

Consideration of the Motions to approve the Lace Furnishings Industry (Export Promotion Levy) Order; and the two Fertilisers Schemes.

THURSDAY, 28TH JUNE—It is proposed to give time for the Report and Third Reading of the Death Penalty (Abolition) Bill.

FRIDAY, 29TH JUNE—Second Reading of the British Caribbean Federation Bill, and of the Governors' Pensions Bill.

Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolutions.

Mr. H. Wilson

May I ask the Lord Privy Seal—whom we are glad to welcome back to the House, after his absence from yesterday's debate—two questions? First, about the Finance Bill. While, as he knows, the Opposition have given unprecedented assistance in getting this very dull Bill through with some speed, if he intends to finish it next week will the right hon. Gentleman attempt to limit the loquacity of his own back benchers, who kept the Chancellor of the Exchequer out of his bed last week for a very long time as a result of a squalid internal revolt inside the Conservative Party? Secondly, are we to understand, as we read in the Press, that next week the Chancellor is to make his statement on the £100 million cuts in Government expenditure?

Mr. Butler

I would like, first, to advert to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that I was absent from the debate yesterday. I do not understand what he means, because I was present for the early part of it, and I had already explained to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan), who was in charge of the Opposition's business, before we altered the business to suit the Opposition, that I had a previous engagement. Nevertheless, I stayed behind to listen to his speech. [HoN. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] I also told the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) that I was extremely sorry that I could not wait to hear his speech. I hope, therefore, that we shall not have quite so much loquacity on that subject. That, I think, answers the question of loquacity on the part of my hon. and right hon. Friends.

However, adverting to the right hon. Gentleman's substantive point, we hope that there will be moderation on the part of our supporters and of his own supporters in the time they use in taking part in the debate, so that we may finish the concluding stage of the Finance Bill on Tuesday evening.

Captain Waterhouse

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether it is his intention to suspend the rule on Thursday for the Death Penalty (Abolition) Bill?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir, I think that we shall have to consider this if there is a general wish on the part of hon. and right hon. Members on both sides of the House. I think it may well be necessary. We have not decided for how long we should suspend the rule, but we are ready to have conversations with those interested.

Mr. Gaitskell

May I ask when the Government are likely to make their statement on Cyprus?

Mr. Butler

I cannot give a definite date.

Mr. C. Davies

May I refer again to the Motion standing on the Order Paper in my name and that of other hon. Members? [That this House, being gravely concerned both over the efficiency and humanity of the security services in their actions and decisions as evidenced by the case of Mr. Lang, calls upon Her Majesty's Government to review again the machinery for dealing with cases which arise outside the Civil Service and to institute a panel of independent judicial advisers to whom the evidence in such cases can be brought for consideration and advice before action is taken so that, as recommended in the findings of the Conference of Privy Councillors, the public may be convinced that the procedures in force will not be exercised unreasonably.] Has the Leader of the House observed that the anxiety about the general position is shared now by hon. Members on both sides of the House? As it raises a matter of vital constitutional importance to all, can the Government now find time to debate it, because it ought to be debated in a full House?

Mr. Butler

No, Sir. I am aware that the right hon. and learned Gentleman and his hon. Friends attach special importance to this issue, but I am afraid that, owing to the state of business, I cannot give any undertaking that time can be found.

Mr. Shinwell

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman why he was so ready to acquiesce—at any rate, in a qualified sense—in the proposal of the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Leicester, South-East (Captain Waterhouse) that the rule should be suspended next Thursday? Has not the House settled the principle embodied in the hanging Bill? If so, is it necessary to sit after ten o'clock?

Mr. Butler

I was not ready to acquiesce in the particular intervention of my right hon. and gallant Friend, because I do not believe that he is particularly interested in having the rule suspended. But I had anticipated that there would be a request from one side of the House or the other, and I was ready to meet that request. I will have further conversations with those principally concerned, including the promoter of the Bill, who is not present this afternoon, to see whether that is a reasonable suggestion. In my opinion, it will be necessary to suspend for some time to finish the Bill.

Captain Waterhouse

May I point out to my right hon. Friend that I want neither the Bill nor the suspension?

Mr. Edward Evans

In view of the anxiety of the near and middle water fishing industry, may I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman can give us any time, before the Government lay their draft regulations relating to the subsidy, to enable us to put the point of view of the industry to the Minister?

Mr. Butler

I could give no undertaking that there will be time before the laying of the Order. The Government will, of course, pay attention to the anxieties of hon. Members who have responsibilities for the fishing industry before deciding upon the terms of the Order.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Can my right hon. Friend say how soon the Motion to set up the Select Committee on Procedure will be debated, in view of the need to make certain recommendations before the next Session of the House?

Mr. Butler

We are purposely finishing some important legislation this week, and that means that we are well ahead with our legislation. If we achieve the programme for the week that I have just announced, that will give all the more opportunity for debating the matter referred to by my noble Friend.

Mr. Woodburn

Will the Leader of the House take note that the unanimous view of my hon. Friends from Scotland is that there should be some consultations, before the terms of reference of this committee are decided upon, on whether there should be one committee or two committees, for it would certainly be resented if Scotland were considered as part of a hotch-potch of other matters relating to the work of the House?

Mr. Butler

If the right hon. Gentleman has any point to put to me, I am ready to discuss it.

Mr. H. Wilson

Will the right hon. Gentleman answer this question, about which there is great interest on both sides of the House and in the country? Are we to expect that the Chancellor will make his statement next week about the £100 million cuts, because it has been widely stated in all sections of the Press that he is to make a statement on Monday or Tuesday next?

Mr. Butler

It is the intention of my right hon. Friend to make a statement as soon as possible. What I cannot do is name the exact day. Directly we are in a position to name the day, we will inform right hon. and hon. Members opposite.

Mr. H. Morrison

In view of the fact some statements have appeared in the Press about the building of the Forth Bridge, may I ask the Leader of the House whether it would not be appropriate that the Secretary of State for Scotland should make in the House of Commons a statement on this subject, which is of vital importance to Scotland, so that supplementary questions may be asked about it? Would the right hon. Gentleman kindly recall the Secretary of State for Scotland from the deep—[An HON.MEMBER:" No."]—and arrange for him to make a statement, so that we may have an opportunity of putting questions to him?

Mr. Butler

My right hon. Friend has, I think, to date made all the statements he can on this matter. The matter can, of course, be raised at a suitable occasion, on, for instance, the Transport Estimates. However, I will certainly examine the right hon. Gentleman's request that there should be an opportunity for further—if I may use the word—ventilation of this project.

Mr. Elliot

Is it not a fact that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has answered a Question on this subject to the complete satisfaction of the House?

Mr. Morrison

I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman and I am sure that he is also obliged to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot). I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, on a subject of this magnitude and long-drawn-out importance to Scotland, he considers that the answer should be in the form of a Written Answer to a Written Question? Would he not provide an opportunity whereby the Secretary of State may get over his shyness in the House of Commons and state what the position is so that hon. Members can put supplementary questions to him? This is a real Parliamentary point. It is the duty of the Leader of the House to protect the rights of Scottish Members.

Mr. Butler

I am gratified that the right hon. Gentleman should appeal to me, because I know that all the policies of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland are so much in the interests of Scotland, and that he is only too ready to defend them. I will bear in mind what the right hon. Gentleman says about a further opportunity.

Mr. Woodburn

Lest the right hon. Gentleman should be misled by the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kelvingrove (Mr. Elliot), may I ask whether he is aware that at least on this side of the House it was felt that it was rather shabby treatment that the Secretary of State did not take the opportunity of making that statement, when other statements of less importance were made on the same day and the Secretary of State was present in the House?

Mr. W. Griffiths

May I return to the matter referred to by the Leader of the Liberal Party, namely, his request for a debate on security procedure? Is the Leader of the House aware that the Liberal Party's Motion is supported officially by the Labour Party and that some of his hon. Friends are also expressing their apprehension by the tabling of an Amendment to the Motion? Is the right hon. Gentleman also aware that there are no fewer than four Motions on the Order Paper all relating to this matter? Is it not a matter of great concern? Will not the right hon. Gentleman undertake to give Government time to discuss this very important matter in the near future?

Mr. Butler

I have the names before me, and I am aware of the support given to the Motion and of the interest aroused. I am also aware that if I give false promises about the amount of Government time available, I shall be deluding the House. I cannot delude the House and promise that there will be such an opportunity. I can only say that I realise its importance.

Mr. Hector Hughes

As, presumably, the new scheme relating to the fishing industry, and particularly the fishing industry in Scotland, will come into operation on or about 1st August, does the Leader of the House not think that it would be proper for the Government to make an announcement now, so that the House might consider the matter before the scheme comes into operation?

Mr. Butler

It is for the Government to state their policy in the form of the Order laid, which is a matter affecting not only Scotland but all other fishing interests in the United Kingdom. Then when the Order is laid, there will be the usual procedure which follows the laying of an Order, which, if necessary, gives time for discussion.

Mr. Steele

In order not to disappoint the Lord Privy Seal who, I observe, has a copy of the Motion which I and many of my hon. Friends have placed on the Order Paper, in connection with the alteration of the hours of business of the House, may I ask him whether there is any hope at any time of discussing this matter in the House?

[That this House is of the opinion that the pressure of Parliamentary business would best be relieved if Standing Order No. I were amended to provide for the Siting of the House on the forenoon of each sitting day.]


I cannot add any more to the replies which I have given, which indicate that I realise the importance of this matter.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. Mr. Brooke.

Mr. Ross

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. There is some important Scottish business on Wednesday, and no Scottish Member has yet had an opportunity to refer to it.

Mr. Speaker

I have called Scottish Members; I do not know what they are going to say. The hon. Member can pursue his inquiries in another direction.

Mr. Hamilton

Further to that point of order, Sir. The business announced for Wednesday is the Valuation and Rating (Scotland) Bill and the rule is to be suspended for one hour. No question has been asked about that matter.

Mr. Speaker

I cannot anticipate what questions hon. Members are going to ask. I did give an opportunity for a question to be asked on that matter, and I cannot go back now.