HC Deb 07 March 1957 vol 566 cc533-8
Mr. Gaitskell

May I ask the Prime Minister, in the absence of the Leader of the House, whether he will announce the business for next week?

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Macmillan)

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

MONDAY, 11TH MARCH—Supply [7th Allotted Day].

Committee stage of Army Estimates, 1957–58, Vote A and Vote on Account.

TUESDAY, 12TH MARcH—Second Reading of the White Fish and Herring Industries (No. 2) Bill.

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

Report and Third Reading of the House of Commons Disqualification Bill.

Committee and remaining stages of the Nurses Bill [Lords], and the Nurses Agencies Bill [Lords], which are consolidation Measures.

WEDNESDAY, 13TH MARCH—Supply [8th Allotted Day].

Committee stage of the following Civil Supplementary Estimates:

Class III, Votes 4, Prisons, England and Wales and 1, Home Office.

Class IX, Votes 5, Ministry of Power and 7, Atomic Energy.

Class V, Vote 5, National Health Service, England and Wales.

Class IV, Vote 1, Ministry of Education.

At 9.30 p.m. under the provisions of Standing Order No. 16, the Questions will be put from the Chair on the Vote under discussion and on all necessary Estimates including Civil Excess Votes required before the end of the financial year.

Consideration of the Motion to approve the Draft Cotton Industry Development Council (Amendment No. 3) Order.

THURSDAY, 14TH MARCH—Supply [9th Allotted Day]: Report.

Consideration of the following Civil Supplementary Estimates:

Class II, Votes 2, 4 and 9, which relate to the Foreign Office and the Colonial Office.

At 9.30 p.m. under the provisions of the Standing Order, the Questions will be put from the Chair on all outstanding Estimates required before the end of the financial year.

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

It may be convenient for me to inform the House that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will open his Budget on Tuesday, 9th April.

Mr. Gaitskell

May I put a point to you, Mr. Speaker, on next week's business? It is the desire of the Opposition, which, I think, is shared by hon. Members generally, that there should, on Thursday, be a general debate on the Middle East. I should be much obliged if you would consider, between now and next Thursday, whether, on the basis of the Supplementary Estimates which have been put down, such a debate would be possible.

Mr. Speaker

I think I understand what is in the mind of the right hon. Gentleman. It would be my desire to meet the wishes of the House in so far as its rules of order permit. I will gladly give consideration to the point which the right hon. Gentleman has raised.

Dame Irene Ward

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether, as it is a consolidation Measure, we could not have done away with the Nurses Bills and dealt with the legislation necessary in relation to the part we have to play in the Geneva Conventions? It seems to me to be most stupid to take up the time of the House on consolidation Measures when no time is given to look at this other matter, which is one of urgency.

The Prime Minister

Yes, but I think that these two Measures, which have come to us from another place, should really not take more than a very few minutes, because they are merely consolidating; whereas the other legislation, important as it is, would require a longer period for consideration by the House.

Mr. G. Brown

Could the Prime Minister tell us whether he is now able to say when the Defence White Paper, so long overdue, !will be published, especially since there is, in The Times this morning, what appears to be a rather extensive preview of it?

The Prime Minister

I think it will be hoped to publish it in the last week of March.

Mr. Braine

As, since the House last discussed our possible participation in the European Common Market, there have been developments, some of them somewhat unexpected, which have aroused certain anxieties, especially among Commonwealth producers, would my right hon. Friend say whether the House will be given an early opportunity to discuss these new developments?

The Prime Minister

I cannot, of course, give any undertaking today, but I will certainly look at that question, because it is a very important one.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

As the Service Estimates are now being closured at ten o'clock, and we are spending money at the rate of £40 million an hour, does not the Prime Minister think that we should get an extension of time? Will he suspend the rule?

The Prime Minister

I would rather not give an undertaking on this matter, which, I think, should be discussed through the usual channels. But I am ready to meet anything which is expressed through that method to us; we will consider whether that is the general wish of the House.

Mr. Patrick Maitland

Will it be possible, in Thursday's debate, to allude to our relations with the United States so that we can wish the Premier godspeed on his visit to Bermuda and assure him of our support in a policy of firmness as well as partnership with the United States?

The Prime Minister

What it will be possible to discuss is, I think, a matter for Mr. Speaker to decide.

Mr. J. Hynd

Since we are to discuss atomic energy developments on Wednesday and we shall, presumably, be entitled to raise the question of our possible relationship with the new European Atomic Energy Authority, can the Prime Minister tell us whether the House will be provided, as soon as possible after the conclusion of the Euratom Treaty, with an English translation concurrent with other versions, so that we shall be in a position to understand what the Treaty is before we discuss our relations under it?

The Prime Minister

What one may discuss on a Supplementary Estimate is not for me to decide. But I will certainly see whether what the hon. Gentleman wishes can be done. so as to have that matter before the House.

Mr. Nicholson

Does my right hon. Friend realise that there is a widespread desire that all the subjects which he will discuss at Bermuda should previously have had a run in the House, so that the opinion of this House may be obtained?

The Prime Minister

I am not sure how far I would welcome a prior discussion of all the discussions which I shall have.

Mr. Hamilton

Has the Prime Minister's attention been drawn to a Motion on the Order Paper, standing in my name and the names of several of my hon. Friends, relating to the need for increased housing subsidies for houses for new towns? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is an all-party matter, inasmuch as a Petition on the subject was presented by his hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mr. Finlay), who pushed it into the green bag behind Mr. Speaker's Chair when nobody was looking? Would the right hon. Gentleman, therefore, give the House an opportunity to debate the Motion so that his hon. Friend could overcome his natural shyness?

[That this House commends to the attention of the Government the petition presented by the hon. Member for Epping from the citizens of the New Town of Harlow and at present lying upon the Table; notes that it urges an increase in subsidies for new house-building and a general review of the finance of New Towns; and calls on Her Majesty's Government to introduce the necessary legislation.]

The Prime Minister

I could not give any such undertaking. There are, of course, many Motions on the Order Paper, and it is not easy for them all to be taken; but I will certainly discuss, through the usual channels, whether there is any desire for this Motion to be taken.

Mr. Rippon

Reverting to the question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward), will the Prime Minister say when it is hoped that it will be possible to find time formally to ratify the Geneva Conventions of 1949? Will he, in any case, make it clear that we have already stated that we regard ourselves as bound by them in any event?

The Prime Minister

There was a Question on the Order Paper today on this matter——

Dame Irene Ward

And an unsatisfactory Answer.

The Prime Minister

—but I will certainly discuss it with my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal as soon as he returns.

Mr. V. Yates

May I ask the Prime Minister whether he will clarify the statement he made about the closure of debates on Service Estimates? I have always understood that we could have unlimited debates on the Army Estimates. Even if both Front Benches agree to termination, that would be grossly unfair to bank benchers. I ask that we should have the same right as we have had in previous years.

Mr. Lipton

Closuring has never been done before.

The Prime Minister

I quite see the point of protecting the rights of back benchers, but perhaps the hon. Member for Ladywood (Mr. V. Yates) is under a little misapprehension. Monday's debate is on a Vote on Account, on an ordinary Supply day, and should continue after ten o'clock only if that is the general view of the House. There will be the debate on the full Army Estimates later in the year, for which, I should imagine, our ordinary procedure would apply.

Ordered, That this day Business other than the Business of Supply may be taken before Ten o'clock.—[The Prime Minister.]

Proceedings on the Motions standing in the name of Mr. Viant relating to the House of Commons Members' Fund exempted, at this day's Sitting, from the provisions of Standing Order No. 1 (Sittings of the House).—[The Prime Minister.]