HC Deb 01 March 1956 vol 549 cc1368-73
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, 5TH MARCH—Supply [5th Allotted Day]: It is proposed to move Mr. Speaker out of the Chair on Air Estimates, 1956–57, and to consider Vote A in Committee.

TUESDAY, 6TH MARCH—Second Reading of the Restrictive Trade Practices Bill.

Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

Committee stage of the Money (No. 2) Resolution relating to Teachers (Superannuation).

WEDNESDAY, 7TH MARCH—Report and Third Reading of the Teachers (Superannuation) Bill.

THURSDAY, 8TH MARCH-Supply [6th Allotted Day]: It is proposed to move Mr. Speaker out of the Chair on Navy Estimates, 1956–57, and to Consider Vote A in Committee.

FRIDAY, 9TH MARCH—Consideration of Private Members' Motions.

Mr. Gaitskell

May I ask the Lord Privy Seal when we may expect from the Colonial Secretary a statement on the position in Cyprus?

Mr. Butler

My right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary, as I think the right hon. Gentleman is aware, has not yet returned to this country. Therefore, it would be impossible to have a statement this week, but we would hope to have a statement as early next week as can possibly be managed.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that after hearing this statement we may wish to have an early debate on the subject?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. Being singularly well informed, I was aware that that was the wish of the right hon. Gentleman and of his friends, and I think that we had better discuss that matter through the usual channels.

Sir J. Hutchison

In view of the very interesting, far-reaching and important discussions that have been going on recently on atomic energy in Western Europe, does my right hon. Friend propose to give the House any opportunity to discuss the matter, or will he issue a White Paper?

Mr. Butler

It is important that this matter should be discussed with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who will arrive back today from Paris and has been discussing that in Paris. When I have had an opportunity of discussing it with my right hon. Friend, I could acquaint the House of the possibility of letting the House know the latest information on this subject.

Mr. Ede

Has the right hon. Gentleman considered the Money (No. 2) Resolution relating to Teachers (Superannuation), and has he examined it to see how narrowly it is drawn? The No. 1 Resolution actually precluded the moving in Committee of Government Amendments on the Bill. In view of the general feeling in the country about this matter, will the Lord Privy Seal examine this to see if something rather broader cannot be put down?

Mr. Butler

I have examined the Resolution in question. It relates, of course, to the three particular Government Amendments which were made in the course of the Bill, and it is designed to cover those three particular Amendments and is drawn in that sense. I will look at it again in the light of what the right hon. Gentleman has said, but that is the object of the Resolution.

Mr. Beswick

In view of the rather remarkable performance of the Secretary of State for Air in winding-up the debate last night, will the right hon. Gentleman say who will be presenting the Air Estimates?

Mr. Butler

I am very glad to say that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Air will present the Air Estimates, as the hon. Member well knows.

Mr. S. Silverman

In view of the undesirability of prolonging unduly the present anomolous position, can the right hon. Gentleman make any statement about early facilities for the Second Reading of the Death Penalty (Abolition) Bill?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. We propose to take this at the earliest possible opportunity. This next week we are dealing with the outstanding business on the two Votes for Air and Navy, and I hope that the week after we shall be able to take the Second Reading of the Bill in question in the name of the hon. Member.

Mr. Glover

Would my right hon. Friend bear in mind the very important White Paper on Technical Education? May we have a very early debate on that, and may I suggest to him that, as this is a matter of vital importance to the future of the nation, he might perhaps consider allotting two days to that debate?

Mr. Butler

I must say at once that I think it would be misleading the House if I suggested that we should be able to allot two days. The difficulty will be to find one day. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] The difficulty will be owing to the pressure of business. But I shall certainly investigate the request which has been made to me, because I realise that it is a matter which indicates the forward-looking policy of the Government and is one well worth discussion by the House.

Mr. Blenkinsop

Can the Lord Privy Seal now say when he proposes to allot time to discuss the Report on the National Health Service, all hon. Members having now had fully adequate time to consider and absorb that Report?

Mr. Butler

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has himself been able fully to absorb this document. There are other hon. Members who are still in process of absorption. I would therefore suggest that we take a little more time before I actually allot a day.

Mr. H. Wilson

In view of the frequency of the Budget statements which we have had this year, can the Lord Privy Seal indicate the date of the annual Budget?

Mr. Butler

I think it would be a wise precaution were I to discuss this with my right hon. Friend on his return from Paris.

Mr. L. M. Lever

Is the Lord Privy Seal aware that I and a number of my colleagues have tabled a Motion relating to the 10s. widows. I wonder whether he could allot a day to debate it?

[That this House deplores the decision of the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance on the matter of making more equitable provision for the 10s. widows; and calls upon him to give favourable reconsideration to this urgent question.]

Mr. Butler

This is a very human subject which was mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance only recently. I am afraid that I could not at present allot a day. We have to give time for the consideration of this matter, and all I can do is to bear in mind the hon. Member's suggestion.

Mr. F. M. Bennett

May I ask if we can also expect next week a statement from the Colonial Secretary on Malta?

Mr. Butler

I can give no undertaking on that subject at present.

Mr. Palmer

In view of the statements in the Press, particularly in the Sunday newspapers, may I ask if we can have a debate fairly soon on the Report of the Select Committee on Nationalised Industries?

Mr. Butler

If we were to follow all that we read in the Sunday newspapers, we should be very much occupied with debate the whole time, but I cannot give a date at present. I did tell the House previously that the question of how to follow up the break-down of the procedure of the present Select Committee on Nationalised Industries was exercising my mind and that of my hon. Friends. I am still in process of negotiating, and I have further negotiations to undertake with those who are specially interested. When those negotiations are concluded, I can give some indication of the line which the Government propose to take in relation to further procedure with regard to the nationalised industries.

Mr. Gaitskell

In view of that, would it not be wise for the Government to refrain from taking any decisions until we have had a debate and they have heard the views of the House?

Mr. Butler

One of the reasons for my caution in answering was that I have not, for example, discussed this matter with the right hon. Gentleman or with any of his hon. or right hon. Friends opposite. Whether the right hon. Gentleman prefers the procedure of a debate or of a discussion I do not know, but I think that we should certainly take a little time before we decide.

Mr. E. Fletcher

With regard to the Government's White Paper on Technical Education, will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that hon. Member's on this side are anxious to have a debate at an early date?

Mr. Butler

I must say that I am glad to know of the interest which this very remarkable pronouncement has raised in the House as a whole.

Mr. V. Yates

Would the Leader of the House take into consideration the importance of longer periods for debating such matters as technical education? We have just concluded a two-day debate in which there were only 25 speakers, of whom 12 were either Privy Counsellors or ex-Ministers. Have we not reached the time when the Government should seriously consider allowing the House a better opportunity to express itself, especially on such a matter as technical education?

Mr. Butler

I realise that on one day, especially when Privy Counsellors intervene, it leaves very little time on this matter. I will leave that to the Chair and also to the discretion of hon. Members, and I will bear in mind the hon. Member's wish that technological education shall be fully discussed.

Mr. C. Pannell

Can the Leader of the House indicate when we are likely to take the Report stage of the Road Traffic Bill, which we considered in Committee for three months? Will he have regard to the urgency of this Measure, bearing in mind the growing figures of road deaths, which may make him consider it is even more urgent if we are to have anyone left to deal with technological education?

Mr. Butler

One of the problems with which I am faced is that the traffic which is expected to pass through the House of Commons is almost as congested as that on the roads. I could, therefore, give no undertaking as to the exact date when the Report stage can be taken, but I will make a statement when we are ready to do so.