HC Deb 29 November 1956 vol 561 cc575-8
Mr. Gaitskell

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, 3RD DECEMBER—Second Reading of the Transport (Railway Finances) Bill.

Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

Consideration of the Motion to approve the Import Duties (No. 14) Order relating to Silica Refractory Bricks.

TUESDAY, 4TH DECEMBER—Committee stage of the Homicide Bill.

Consideration of the Motion to approve the Draft National Insurance (Married Women) Amendment Regulations.

WEDNESDAY, 5TH DECEMBER and THURSDAY, 6TH DECEMBER—A debate will take place on the Situation in the Middle East.

FRIDAY, 7TH DECEMBER—Consideration of Private Members' Bills.

Mr. Gaitskell

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman about the nature of the debate on Wednesday and Thursday of next week? Is it the Government's intention, for example, that the House should debate any of the Motions on the Order Paper relating to the Middle East, especially the one signed by 130 of the hon. Members opposite—

[That this House congratulates the Foreign Secretary on his efforts to secure international control of the Suez Canal, and deplores both the Resolution of the General Assembly calling for immediate and unconditional withdrawal of British and French troops from Egypt, and the attitude of the United States of America which is gravely endangering the Atlantic alliance.]—

or have the Government in mind a Motion of their own, or are they waiting for us to table one?

Mr. Butler

We had better await the statement to be made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary and after that we can have discussions on the nature of the debate. I think it is unlikely to take place on one of the Motions to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred. I think that it is likely to take place on one of the two other alternatives which he posed.

Mr. Pitman

Would my right hon. Friend say whether he will find time for a quite different kind of Motion which is on the Order Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Yardley (Mr. Usborne), which is both interesting and constructive and differs completely from all the other Motions?

[That this House urges Her Majesty's Government to initiate discussions as soon as possible in the United Nations, so that the United Nations should acquire, by purchase or on a long lease or by other means, the sovereignty of the Sinai peninsula, with control over the islands of Tiran and Sanafir in the Gulf of Aqaba, as an assembly point and first base for a permanent United Nations World Constabulary, and so that the Charter may be suitably revised for setting up an Authority of the United Nations for carrying out the responsibilities and exercising the powers relative to such an acquisition.]

Mr. Butler

I cannot guarantee that we can find time for all these Motions, although I realise that the Motion referred to by my hon. Friend is actuated by the highest ideals.

Mr. T. Fraser

Has the Lord Privy Seal yet taken a decision on the proposal that the Scottish Clauses of the Rent Bill should go to the Scottish Standing Committee?

Mr. Butler

I understand that the Opposition were informed through the usual channels that the Government did not consider it possible that this Bill could be split in the way desired by the hon. Member. I hope, therefore, that the information has reached him, as we attempted to make it available to the Opposition.

Mr. S. Silverman

On Tuesday's business, is the Leader of the House aware that by the time it next sits the Committee will have reached Part II of the Homicide Bill and that in respect of that part of the Bill, so far as this side of the House is concerned, there is a free vote?

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that he undertook at an earlier stage that the interests of those of us who were primarily interested in Part II of the Bill would be considered and that there would be consultations with us from time to time?

Is the right hon. Gentleman further aware that to many of us Tuesday of next week is a very inconvenient day for the Committee stage? As there has been no such consultation as he promised, would he undertake to explore, through the usual channels, the possibility of exchanging Monday's and Tuesday's business so as to enable those of us who have given some part of our lives to this issue to be able to be present when it is next discussed?

Mr. Butler

I was not aware that Tuesday was inconvenient to the hon. Member and some of his hon. Friends. I must say that when it is a case of Government business there is no absolute duty upon me to indulge in consultations with other than the Opposition, but it is my duty, as Leader of the House, to pay attention to any representations that are made to me. I think it will be very difficult now to change this business, but if the hon. Member would like to see me and explain his difficulties I shall, of course, be glad to see him.

Mr. N. Pannell

Could my right hon. Friend say when time will be provided for the Second Reading of the Ghana Independence Bill?

Mr. Butler

I cannot give an actual date. On a previous occasion I was reproved for trying to forecast the business a week ahead, in relation partly to the 14-day rule. I cannot give an undertaking about a day, but we wish to bring this Bill forward as soon as possible.

Mr. Daines

May I have an assurance from the Leader of the House that on the main debate on Suez we shall have a clear statement of the Government's case at the beginning of the debate and not statements reserved for the end of the debate so that they are not freely debatable, such as we had on the last occasion when the President of the Board of Trade was involved?

Mr. Butler

I think that we had better wait for the Foreign Secretary's statement and for other developments. I feel sure that there will be ample material before the House to enable hon. Members to ascertain the line to be taken by the Government.

Mr. Bevan

That is not quite good enough, is it? We are to have two days' debate. Does not the right hon. Gentleman agree that it is desirable that the Government's case should be fully outlined at the beginning if we are to have an effective debate afterwards?

Mr. Butler

If the right hon. Gentleman will await the Foreign Secretary's statement, he will see that things will work out in such a way that ample material will be available to indicate the line of the Government well before the debate.

Mr. D. Jones

Has the attention of the right hon. Gentleman been called to a Motion on the Order Paper in my name and the names of some of my hon. Friends? Will he now take the opportunity to enable the Government at least to implement the firm promise of the Prime Minister on domestic matters, which he made as far back as 9th June, 1955?

[That this House regrets that despite the promise given by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons on 9th June, 1955, to introduce legislation to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of the workers on or about the railways, no reference is made in the Gracious Speech to implementing this undertaking.]

Mr. Butler

I believe that that Motion relates to the Gowers Report. I will certainly look into that and give a reply to the hon. Member.