HC Deb 18 July 1957 vol 573 cc1342-7
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, 22ND JULY—Supply [23rd Allotted Day]: Committee.

Debate on the Roads Programme until 7 o'clock.

Afterwards there will be a debate on Colonial Coach Air Services.

Consideration of Lords Amendments to the Naval Discipline Bill.

Consideration of the Motion relating to the Greenwich Hospital and Travers' Foundation Accounts.

TUESDAY, 23RD JULY—Supply [24TH Alloted Day]: Committee.

Debate on Disarmament.

Second Reading of the Affiliation Proceedings Bill [Lords], and of the Housing Bill [Lords], which are consolidation Measures.

WEDNESDAY, 24TH JULY—Supply [25th Allotted Day]: Committee.

Debate on the Scottish Health Services.

At 9.30 p.m. the Question will be put from the Chair on the Vote under discussion and on all outstanding Supply Votes.

Consideration of the Motions relating to the Double Taxation Relief (Estate Duty) (Pakistan) Order and the Town and Country Planning (Minerals) (Amendment) Regulations, and similar Regulations for Scotland.

THURSDAY, 25TH JULY—Supply [26th Allotted Day]: Report.

Debate on the Economic Situation.

At 9.30 p.m. the Question will be put from the Chair on the Vote under discussion and on all outstanding Votes.

Consideration of Lords Amendments to the Agriculture Bill, which are expected to be received from another place at the beginning of next week.

Consideration of the Motions to approve the Herring Subsidy (United Kingdom) No. 2 Scheme and the White Fish Subsidy (United Kingdom) Scheme.

FRIDAY, 26TH JULY—Further consideration of the Geneva Conventions Bill, if it is not completed Tomorrow (Friday).

Consideration of the Motion to approve the Draft West Indies (Federation) Order in Council.

We shall then consider any outstanding business, including Lords Amendments which may be received from another place, and make further progress with the several consolidation Measures now before the House.

If all the necessary business is disposed of it is hoped to adjourn for the Summer Recess on Friday, 2nd August.

I will make a statement later about the proposed date of reassembly in the autumn.

Mr. Gaitskell

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us when the White Paper on Disarmament will be available and, also, whether it is the intention of the Government that in the debate on the economic situation the Chancellor of the Exchequer will announce the Government's proposals for dealing with inflation?

Mr. Butler

In answer to the second of the right hon. Gentleman's questions, I think that we must leave discretion in this matter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The White Paper on Disarmament will, it is expected, be available in the Vote Office later today—about 6 p.m., I understand.

Mr. Shinwell

What is the reason for the undue haste to rush through all this business in the course of the next week? Is there anything in the rumour, which is current in many quarters, that the Goverenment are clearing the decks in the course of the next week or two and getting rid of all the outstanding business as a prelude to a General Election?

Mr. Butler

The Government are carrying out their undertaking, as they have done during the last two years, to complete their business in the appointed time, and we propose that our business shall be completed—except for the normal, slight spill-over which occurs in the autumn—by 2nd August, which shows efficiency in management.

As regards the second matter, that is one especially at the discretion of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, but it is the Government's intention to carry out their mandate and to fulfil their term of office.

Mr. Ernest Davies

Will the Leader of the House say whether he will arrange for a debate on Government Overseas Information Services, following publication of the White Paper, before we adjourn for the Summer Recess?

Mr. Butler

It does not look as if there is very much time but, in so far as there is any discretion in the matter, it lies with Her Majesty's Opposition.

Mr. S. Silverman

Has the right hon. Gentleman observed that, acting upon suggestion made yesterday by Mr. Speaker, about 60 Members of the House have tabled a Motion questioning the validity or propriety of the Attorney-General's execution of the statutory functions laid upon him? Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether time will be found for the consideration of that Motion?

[That this House deeply deplores the refusal of Mr. Attorney-General to grant his fiat to enable John Willson Vickers to appeal against his conviction to the House of Lords, so as to establish on the highest judicial authority whether or not Section 1 of the Homicide Act effectively abolishes the doctrine of constructive malice and prevents a man from being liable to be convicted of murder who had no intention either to kill or to do grievous bodily harm, as the Government assured the House was its purpose during the debates on the Homicide Act.]

Mr. Butler

I have the Motion before me and I have read the names of the hon. Members who support it. I do not see any opportunity, in Government time, for a debate upon this Motion.

Mr. Silverman

On a point of order. If what amounts to a Motion of censure upon a member of the Government in respect of the discharge of his Ministerial duties is put upon the Order Paper, has it not been, for many many years, the business of the Government, or their constitutional duty, to provide time to debate that Motion?

Mr. Speaker

All I know about the matter of order is that the arrangement of business lies with the Government, except for Supply and other Opposition days, which are the prerogative of the Opposition.

Mr. Silverman

This is, by common consent, a matter of the gravest importance. There is considerable doubt whether the Court of Appeal has ever reached a valid decision, and there is involved here the administration by the Government of a Statute involving the immediate question of life and death. Are not we entitled, if we table a Motion of censure upon a member of the Government, to have the House of Commons determine whether the Motion is justified or not?

Mr. Speaker

It is really for hon. Members on both sides of the House to arrange these matters. I cannot intervene.

Mr. H. Hynd

The Leader of the House did not say anything about a proposed debate upon local government. We now have three White Papers in front of us. Can he say whether they will be discussed before we break up?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. It is the intention that we shall have a full debate before we adjourn, and by a process of deduction that must be next week.

Mr. Grimond

Can the Leader of the House say whether it is the Government's intention to make a statement upon the reform of another place, before we adjourn?

Mr. Butler

I have nothing to say on that subject.

Mr. Mitchison

On the question of local government White Papers, three such White Papers were mentioned. There is also a fourth, in respect of Scotland. May I take it that all four will be discussed together, on one Motion?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir; the problem of Scotland will be discussed at the same time as that of England.

Mr. Ede

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether that discussion will take place on a Motion to take note of the White Papers, or on a Motion to approve the policy contained in them?

Mr. Butler

It will definitely take place on a Motion to take note, because one of the objects of the Government is to ascertain the views of the House of Commons on this subject now that the White Papers have been published.

Mr. A. Henderson

In view of the debate on disarmament which is to take place on Tuesday of next week, can the Leader of the House say when we are to have the White Paper on disarmament as was promised?

Mr. Butler

I have said, at 6 o'clock today.

Mr. Harold Davies

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the question of Royal Ordnance factories and the dismissal of workers at the Swynnerton factory — which is dislocating the economic life in that area—will be taken into account during the debate on the economic situation, or is the House to have an opportunity to debate the Government's policy on Royal Ordnance factories before the Recess?

Mr. Butler

We have no Government time available, but if the Opposition care to choose that subject it is a matter for them. I do not see that any subject would be excluded from the debate on the economic situation.

Mr. Snow

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the Government have any plans to discuss the Report of the Committee on Administrative Tribunals and Inquiries, mentioned by the Prime Minister?

Mr. Butler

It has just been published and I do not think we shall have an opportunity to discuss it immediately. It is a Report which will need careful study and, therefore, a little time given to studying it will not be a bad thing.

Mr. Allaun

May I ask the Leader of the House whether his attention has been drawn to the Motion, signed by 151 of my right hon. and hon. Friends, urging the Government to raise the basic old-age pension to £3 a week before the Recess? Can the right hon. Gentleman say that any one of us can go away for a Recess of nearly three months with an easy conscience, knowing that millions of our fellow countrymen are suffering real deprivation? When will there be a debate, and, more important, when will there be a pension increase?

[That this House urges the Government to raise the basic old-age pension to £3 a week before the Parliamentary Recess begins in August.]

Mr. Butler

The Government are, of course, fully aware of the gravity and importance of this problem, but I cannot make a statement at present and I cannot give any undertaking about a date before we rise.