HC Deb 15 November 1956 vol 560 cc1133-8
Mr. J. Griffiths

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will announce 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, 19TH NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Air Corporations Bill.

Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution, which it is hoped to obtain by 7.30 p.m.

Committee stage of the Ways and Means Resolution relating to Customs Duties (Dumping and Subsidies).

Consideration of the Motions to approve the Registration of Restrictive Trading Agreements Order; and of the Draft Census of Distribution (1958) (Restriction on Disclosure) Order.

TUESDAY, 20TH NOVEMBER—Consideration of Motions for Addresses to continue in force for a further year certain Emergency Legislation and Regulations. The Motions are already on the Order Paper.

Committee and remaining stages of the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill.

Consideration of the Double Taxation Relief (Austria) Order.

WEDNESDAY, 21ST NOVEMBER and THURSDAY, 22ND NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Rent Bill.

Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

At the end of business on Thursday we shall also ask the House to take the Report stage of the Ways and Means Resolution relating to Customs Duties, so that the Bill may be brought in.

FRIDAY, 23RD NOVEMBER—Committee and remaining stages of the Air Corporations Bill; and of the Agriculture (Silo Subsidies) Bill.

Mr. J. Griffiths

May I ask the Lord Privy Seal whether he would like to have consultations, through the usual channels, to provide, in the week after next, adequate time for discussing the Prayers which my hon. Friends are putting down against Statutory Instruments which would bring into operation increases in National Health Service prescription charges? It is desirable that there should be adequate time to deal with that matter.

Mr. Butler

I anticipated that there might be such a request. I will deal with it in the usual way.

Mr. T. Fraser

Would the right hon. Gentleman agree to put a Motion on the Order Paper to send that part of the Rent Bill which applies solely to Scotland to the Scottish Grand Committee? A precedent was set up last year on the Teachers (Superannuation) Bill. It would be a great convenience to hon. Members on both sides of the Border and on both sides of the House if that were done.

Mr. Butler

I would rather not give an assurance to that effect. I would rather discuss it with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland. There is considerable difficulty about the division of this Bill and, while I note the request put to me, I request that I might discuss the matter with my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Woodburn

If the Bill were taken on the Floor of the House it would embrace all the matters that might arise.

Mr. Butler

I cannot give any such undertaking.

Mr. Ross

The Lord Privy Seal will realise that Scottish Members have found him not only sympathetic but helpful in the past in this respect. He will recollect that this Bill is far more important from the point of view of the public in Scotland than the Teachers (Superannuation) Bill was. Will he bear those facts in mind?

Mr. Butler

The difficulty is that on examining the two Bills I find that there is a considerable difference in the division of the subject. There was a division of the subject in the Teachers (Superannuation) Bill which enabled a surgical operation of the type desired by the hon. Member, but it is much more difficult in the case of the Rent Bill. We are facing a genuine problem in this respect.

Mr. Nabarro

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that every hon. Member who sits for an industrial constituency is particularly concerned about the implication of the common market proposals? In view of the suggestion of the President of the Board of Trade today, that there should be an early debate on that matter, can my right hon. Friend say when it will be possible to find the necessary time?

Mr. Butler

I think that debate will probably take place in the week after next—that is, in the week beginning 26th November.

Mr. H. Wilson

In view of the even greater concern in all constituencies about the economic effects of recent international events, will the Lord Privy Seal say whether he expects the Chancellor will be able to make a statement on that subject early next week, following the failure of both Ministers to give any information whatever in last Monday's debate?

Mr. Butler

I should have thought that both the Minister of Supply and the Chancellor of the Exchequer made not only adequate but comprehensive speeches on that subject. If my memory serves me aright, the Minister of Supply gave an estimate of the likely cost on the Budget—which was a very audacious thing to do—in order to serve the interests of the House. Therefore, I do not think that I can give any such undertaking as the right hon. Member desires.

Mr. Wilson

Since, for reasons that we all understand, the Lord Privy Seal was not present when the Chancellor was speaking on Monday night, will he undertake to read the speech of his right hon. Friend and put himself right on the fact that, apart from the effect on the Budget, we had no information?

Mr. Butler

I am rather flattered that the right hon. Member should have followed my movements with such care. I read with great interest and support every line in the speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I thought it combined an appreciation of economics and a knowledge of humanity, which is more than can be said for the speeches of the right hon. Member for Huyton.

Mr. Robens

May I ask the Lord Privy Seal whether any arrangements have been made for a statement to be made in the House—presumably by the Prime Minister—on the present situation in the Middle East? We have not pressed for a statement today, but it seems to us that we ought to have a statement on Monday or Tuesday. Am I right in assuming that there have been some consultations with the French, and that M. Gazier has been over here? It would be an advantage if a statement could be made next week.

The Prime Minister

I think that, in principle, I agree. There are discussions going on, of which the right hon. Member for Blyth (Mr. Robens) is aware, not only between us and the French but between other people, also. I do not think that we help much by saying anything just now, but in the earlier part of next week I certainly hope to be able to do so.

Mr. Mitchison

On the Rent Bill, would the Leader of the House bear in mind that the provisions as to increase of rent contained in Clauses 6, 7 and 8 and in the Third Schedule are applicable only to Scotland and are quite different from anything in the Bill relating to England? If the Bill proceeds upstairs those provisions will fall to be discussed by a very limited number of Scottish hon. Members there.

Mr. Butler

That is an enlargement of the point made by the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. T. Fraser), and I have said that I will discuss it with my right hon. Friend.

Mr. N. Pannell

May I ask my right hon. Friend when it is expected that the Bill granting independence to the Gold Coast will be placed before the House?

Mr. Butler

I could not give any definite date, but I will inform my hon. Friend as soon as I am aware of it.

Mr. M. Stewart

Referring, again, to the Rent Bill, will the right hon. Gentleman remember, from his experience of the Teachers (Superannuation) Bill, that while it may be difficult to divide a Bill one lands oneself in much more difficulty if one refuses a request from Scottish Members?

Mr. Butler

My own Scottish blood has made me aware of that difficulty more than once.

Mr. Bellenger

With reference to the notice which the right hon. Gentleman gave to his hon. Friend the Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro) about business not for next week but for the week afterwards, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to be very careful about departing from the custom which, as his predecessor often told us, was to give notice on an occasion such as this only of the business for the next week. What the right hon. Gentleman may have done, under the 14-day rule, is to prevent any discussion on the air of the subject to which the hon. Member for Kidderminster referred in his impromptu question.

Mr. Butler

I think that there is some substance in the point which the right hon. Gentleman has made. We might find ourselves in difficulty if we project our minds too far. The trouble is that the Government are so far seeing that we look a long way ahead.

Mr. Snow

While that difficulty may exist—and probably does—may I ask the right hon. Gentleman when there will be an opportunity to discuss the Australian Trade Agreement, which has a direct connotation with the question put to him by the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Mr. Nabarro)?

Mr. Butler

Under the circumstances, I think I had better make no prognostication at all.

Mr. Speaker

Mr. Dodds-Parker.

Mr. Lewis

On a point of order. Before we leave the business for next week, Mr. Speaker, may I ask for your guidance? As you know, it is a rule of the House that before hon. Members vote on a matter from which they may have direct financial or pecuniary advantage they should declare their interest. As, next week, we are to have the Rents Bill before us, and many hon. Members opposite are directors of property companies—in one case 40 companies—and will directly benefit, will you tell the House what action those hon. Members should take? Should they abstain or declare their interest before the Second Reading of the Bill?

Mr. Speaker

I have frequently stated the rule. The interest to disallow a vote must be direct and peculiar to the person himself and not shared with other members of Her Majesty's subjects in a similar position, nor must it be a matter of State policy. The rule has been clear for a hundred years. It is for hon. Members to obey the rules as they stand.

Mr. Hamilton

Further to that point of order, Sir. Is it not anomalous that hon. Members of the House of Commons can vote where they have an interest, but that a councillor in a local authority who lives in a council house is not allowed to vote?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member must not involve me in municipal matters.