HC Deb 07 February 1957 vol 564 cc614-20
Mr. Gaitskell

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will state the business for next week?

The Secretary of State for the Home Department and Lord Privy Seal (Mr. R. A. Butler)

Yes, Sir. The business for next week will be as follows:

MONDAY, 11TH FEBRUARY—Debate on Welsh Affairs.

The debate will arise on a Government Motion to take note of the Report of Government Action in Wales and Monmouthshire, and the Third Memorandum by the Council for Wales and Monmouthshire.

TUESDAY, 12TH FEBRUARY—Second Reading of the Consolidated Fund Bill, which it is proposed to take formally.

Debate on the Economic Situation on an Opposition Motion.

WEDNESDAY, 13TH FEBRUARY—Committee and remaining stages of the Consolidated Fund Bill, which it is also proposed to take formally.

Debate on Defence, on an Opposition Motion.

Consideration of the Motions to approve the Draft Silo Subsidies (England and Wales and Northern Ireland) Scheme, and a similar Scheme for Scotland.

THURSDAY, 14TH FEBRUARY—Committee stage of the Rating and Valuation Bill.

FRIDAY, 15TH FEBRUARY—Consideration of Private Members' Bills.

Mr. J. Griffiths

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, the debate on Welsh affairs on Monday, on the Report of Government Action in Wales and Monmouthshire, is a long-postponed debate on a Report published in the autumn. The Third Memorandum by the Council for Wales and Monmouthshire has been in our hands only recently and it raises very important matters. I think that it would be the desire of Welsh Members on both sides of the House that Monday's debate should take place on the Report of Government Action; and we think we are entitled to a special day to discuss the Memorandum. Would the right hon. Gentleman consider that?

Mr. Butler

I have discussed this matter with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs. We realise that the Third Memorandum was published only recently, but I think it would be convenient, and it would be of great value to by right hon. Friend, if hon. Members would give their views on the Third Memorandum—if they feel so inclined—in the course of this debate. I would, therefore, rather keep the subject of the debate general than particularise it on Government action alone.

Mr. Griffiths

Do I take it that the Government have not yet made up their minds on the proposals in the Memorandum, and that there will not be a Government statement on Monday?

Mr. Butler

There is always a Government point of view, but I think that this debate will be used by my right hon. Friend to ascertain the views of hon. Members on the Third Memorandum.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Will my right hon. Friend tell the House when we are to debate the Regulations for the variation of the speed limit of heavy vehicles to 30 miles per hour? Will he also say whether there is anything sinister in holding up this important debate for three weeks?

Mr. Butler

There is nothing sinister. We should have liked to have taken the Regulations last night, but in deference to the views of the House we devoted the whole of the time yesterday to the Homicide Bill, which I think was perfectly understandable. There does not happen to be a vacant day next week which would enable us to take it, owing to the Consolidated Fund Bill. Although I do not like announcing business further in advance than this, we propose to try to take the Regulations as soon afterwards as possible.

Mrs. Jeger

In view of the continuing gravity of the situation in Cyprus, can the Leader of the House say when we can expect to have an opportunity to debate the general situation there, with particular reference to Lord Radcliffe's proposals for Cyprus?

Mr. Butler

I can give no undertaking, but I will discuss the hon. Lady's representation with my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary. As the hon. Lady will see, the time for next week has been filled.

Mr. Nabarro

My right hon. Friend will recall that fourteen days ago I asked him, evidently with support from all quarters of the House, whether an early opportunity might be arranged for a debate on fuel and power and notably our future energy resources. Can my right hon. Friend say whether there will be any opportunity on the remaining stages of the Consolidated Fund Bill for a specific debate on these important topics?

Mr. Butler

The trouble is that the time on the Consolidated Fund Bill, at the request of the Opposition, has been devoted to the economic situation and a debate on defence. That is our constitutional procedure. There will, therefore, not be time on the Consolidated Fund Bill—unless the hon. Member intervenes on this subject, for example, on the first day—to allocate a particular day for the subject he mentions. I referred to this matter as early as 13th December and I am aware that it is of great importance.

Mr. Gaitskell

Would the right hon. Gentleman make it plain that the Consolidated Fund Bill, which we are taking formally, is a very narrow one and that had we not taken it formally the debate would have had to be related closely to the Army Supplementary Estimate?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. That is true. My language in answering my hon. Friend was not as precise as I like it normally to be. I had intended to convey that the subject he mentioned could be raised not in the debate on the Consolidated Fund Bill, which relates to the Army Supplementary Estimate, but in the debate on the economic situation, from winch the question of power is not totally absent.

Mr. Cooper

Would my right hon. Friend tell the House when it is proposed to debate the White Paper on the reorganisation and reform of local government?

Mr. Butler

We are in the very happy state of awaiting reactions on this matter.

Mr. Blyton

Is the Leader of the House aware of the resentment in the coalfields at the Government's delay in implementing the agreement between the National Coal Board and the National Union of Mineworkers on increases of pensions to retired miners, widows and children? If the Government intend to do anything, can he tell us when legislation will be brought before the House to implement that agreement?

Mr. Butler

I have discussed this with my right hon. Friend, and at the moment he cannot give me a date when I could make an announcement for the benefit of the hon. Member and the mining community in general, but I will again raise it with my right hon. Friend and will communicate with the hon. Member and the House.

Mr. J. Taylor

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the advisability of affording the House an early opportunity to consider the Report of the Runciman Committee on Horticultural Marketing?

Mr. Butler

We must live in hopes about that, but I realise its importance.

Mr. H. Wilson

Since the former Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget, as he told us last year, was based entirely on the assumption of a cut of £100 million in Government expenditure, and since the House now has before it £100 million increase in Supplementary Estimates, will the Lord Privy Seal tell us whether we are to expect a third Budget during the present financial year?

Mr. Butler

I think that on business I had better not discuss whether we are likely to have an extra Budget or not. I should not like to excite any hopes or fears that there will be any alteration of the normal financial procedure this year.

Mrs. White

May I return to next week's business and ask the Leader of the House whether he will not reconsider his statement about the debate on Welsh affairs? The Report to which my right hon. Friend the Member for Llanelly (Mr. J. Griffiths) referred is a very long Report, is extremely detailed and raises matters of great constitutional importance and of economic interest to Wales. I am sure that the Welsh Members on both sides of the House require more time to consider it, to consult their constituents and to prepare to give their considered views. It would be most unfortunate if the impression were given that the Government were not prepared to give adequate time for the discussion of this very important Report.

Mr. Butler

There is no question of precluding any discussion of this Report. But as the Report was published on 25th January, and the debate is to take place on 11th February, I think it would be unreasonable to preclude Welsh Members, who have a perception very much above the average, from stating their views on a document published over a fortnight before. If they do not wish to state their views we cannot help it, but I recommend those who have views to state them, although not to come to any final conclusion.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that although we may discuss this Memorandum among other matters on Monday, he will be prepared to consider allotting another day later for a fuller consideration of it?

Mr. Butler

That is taking things very much too far ahead. I should like first to listen to the debate. I should not like to say that this was the final decision by the Government on the conclusions of the Third Memorandum. I think that is fair. I cannot go as far as the right hon. Gentleman asks me to go.

Mrs. Braddock

The Leader of the House will no doubt have noticed on the Order Paper a Motion in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Brixton (Mr. Lipton) and myself with reference to statements which are made by recorders and judges following sentences in courts. In view of the fact that these comments give very grave offence to many industrial workers, is there any possibility of referring to this matter in Tuesday's debate on the economic situation so that attention may be drawn to the fact that the industrial workers, and particularly very many thousands of seamen in my constituency, resent the comments which have been made about them by the Recorder of Liverpool?

[That this House deplores the making of irrelevant and offensive remarks by judges in court to which the person or organisation aggrieved thereby has no right of reply.]

Mr. Speaker

I do not think that that arises on business.

Mr. G. Thomas

May we take it that the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs is now thoroughly steeped in Welsh matters and that he will be able to make a definite statement on Monday on the Government's activities concerning the ports of South Wales? Secondly, will the Leader of the House bear in mind that the Welsh Members are now occupied, in various groups, in considering and discussing the Third Memorandum by the Council for Wales? Will he let us have a further day for its discussion.

Mr. Butler

I think that my right hon. Friend will be very much more familiar with Welsh affairs after listening to the debate, especially to what the hon. Member may say.

Mr. Lipton

Will the Leader of the House have a look at the Motion about judges making irrelevant and offensive remarks in court? While it is true that an apology has been tendered in one case—

Mr. Speaker

If the hon. Member is referring to an individual, he must proceed in the proper manner, by a Motion, and not raise it adventitiously as a business question.

Mr. Lipton

There is a Motion upon the Order Paper, Sir.

Mr. Speaker

I understand that, and on that Motion the merits of the matter can be argued, but it should not be brought in as a business question.

Proceedings of the Committee on Rating and Valuation [Money] exempted, at this day's Sitting, from the provisions of Standing Order No. 1 (Sittings of the House).—[Mr. R. A. Butler.]