HC Deb 23 October 1956 vol 558 cc484-5
50. Mr. Lewis

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware of the growing practice of Ministers announcing the Government's policy with regard to legislation to political rallies; and whether he will arrange for these announcements to be made to the House of Commons.

The Prime Minister

Political rallies of all parties are commonly the occasion for general statements of policy. I do not think it can be said that the Government have failed to keep the House fully informed of all matters of policy and legislation.

Mr. Lewis

Yes, Sir, but it is the fact, and is the Prime Minister not aware of it, that the Conservative Party and the Government are continually making announcements of legislative intentions whilst at the same time continually ignoring Questions put by Members of this House? Is the right hon. Gentleman not aware of the fact that just before the House went into Recess Questions were asked on rent restriction and the Minister refused to give any answer, yet the answer was given to an outside body? Is that right or proper? Does the right hon. Gentleman not think that this Parliament should be treated with more respect?

The Prime Minister

I can only assure the House that we shall not hesitate to give hon. Members very full information about our proposals for rent restriction.

Mr. H. Wilson

Whilst we understand the desire of Ministers to find something to say to the Conservative Party Conference to cheer it up, does the right hon. Gentleman not think that within four or five weeks of the Gracious Speech it is entirely wrong for Ministers to announce impending legislation in anticipation of it? Furthermore, since the announcement to which my hon. Friend has referred could, and indeed as far as I know did, have immeasurable effect on movements on the Stock Exchange, should not this have been dealt with in accordance with ordinary Parliamentary procedure?

The Prime Minister

As regards the first part of the right hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, I am sure that we shall have plenty of opportunity to discuss whether our proposals on rent policy or those outlined at the Labour Party Conference are the better proposals, and we can argue that. I do not think that the outline which my right hon. Friend gave was inconsistent with the practice which should be observed, having in mind the fact that we shall, of course, give the House very full information about our proposals on rent restriction.

Lieut.-Colonel Bromley-Davenport

Is it not a good thing to make announcements of this nature some time before Parliament meets, so that the thick heads opposite have more time to think them over?