HC Deb 14 March 1957 vol 566 cc1313-6
Mr. Gaitskell

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will announce 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, 18TH MARCH—Second Reading of the Consolidated Fund (No. 2) Bill.

Debate on London's Housing Problem.

TUESDAY, 19TH MARCH—Committee and remaining stages of the Consolidated Fund (No. 2) Bill, which it is proposed to take formally.

Debate on the Opposition's Motion relating to the Government's Social Policy.

WEDNESDAY, 20TH MARCH—Second Reading of the Export Guarantees Bill.

Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution, which it is hoped to obtain by about 7 o'clock.

Second Reading of the Naval Discipline Bill.

Consideration of the Lords Amendments to the Rating and Valuation Bill, which are expected to be received from another place today.

THURSDAY, 21ST MARCH—Second Reading of the National Insurance Bill, which it is hoped to obtain by about 7 o'clock.

Committee and remaining stages of the White Fish and Herring Industries (No. 2) Bill.

FRIDAY, 22ND MARCH—Consideration of Private Members' Motions.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in the opinion of the Opposition it might be convenient for the debate on London's housing problem to end at about seven o'clock and for the remainder of the day to be available to hon. Members, in accordance with precedent, to raise any matter in which they are interested?

Mr. Butler

It has always been a practice on the Consolidated Fund Bill for hon. Members to have the opportunity of raising what subjects they like. If it is for the convenience of the House, I hope that we may reach an arrangement of that sort. In that case, I think that it is legitimate for me to say that I hope that those who are raising particular matters will give notice to Mr. Speaker and to the Ministers concerned, because it will then be easier for an answer to be given and for Mr. Speaker to be aware of any matters that may be raised.

Sir H. Lucas-Tooth

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether the debate on London housing is confined to the London County Council area, or whether it will cover the whole of Greater London?

Mr. Butler

As this matter was chosen by the Opposition, we would have to take the Opposition's views as to the scope of the debate which they would desire on this subject. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition would give us satisfaction in this matter by telling us what he has in mind.

Mr. Mitchison

It seems to us very difficult to debate the housing problem of inner London without also dealing to some extent with outer London.

Mr. Bellenger

May I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether on that particular debate it is your intention to call only London Members or whether you will permit other hon. Members, if they so desire, to speak?

Mr. Speaker

I should have to be guided by the precise nature of the discussion as to whom I call. I certainly would not rule out other hon. Members from participating in the debate. It would not be my desire to do so. I shall have to choose hon. Members as they offer themselves to speak.

Mr. C. Pannell

In view of the tradition of the House that Scottish Members usually wish to be left alone when discussing Scottish affairs, and Welsh Members expect to be left alone to discuss their affairs, may I, as a Londoner representing a Yorkshire constituency, and not wishing to speak at all, suggest that the cockneys. with their huge population, should be left to discuss their affairs and that Scotsmen and Welshmen should keep a decent distance and a respectful silence on this occasion?

Mr. Speaker

The convention which has grown up with regard to participation by other hon. Members in debates on Scottish and Welsh affairs arises from the pugnacious nationalism of those two countries. I have no doubt that if London Members are true to their nature a similar convention might in due course grow up.

Mr. S. Silverman

If, Mr. Speaker, the convention were to be encouraged too far and other parts of the country were to be incited to a similar pugnacious regionalism, if not nationalism, might not the affairs of this House resolve themselves into a series of glorified county councils?

Mr. Speaker

So far as the Chair is concerned, I can give no official guidance on any such feelings of nationalism or separatism. I call on hon. Members as they offer themselves to speak. It is entirely a convention for the House to create or ignore as it pleases.

Mr. Gaitskell

As there is a very special problem so far as London is concerned some of us, at any rate, think it worth while having a half-day to discuss it. Would the Lord Privy Seal say when the Government expect to produce the White Paper on atomic energy development?

Mr. Butler

I cannot give an exact date, but I will take the opportunity of seeing that the House is informed when we have a date in mind.

Mr. Braine

Can my right hon. Friend say whether an early opportunity will be afforded for us to discuss a subject which most of us regard, on both sides of the House, as of supreme importance? As the Messina Powers have agreed to incorporate their colonial territories inside the Common Market and the treaty is drafted and ready for signature now, but the O.E.E.C. working party which was set up will not report until June, and we may be faced with a fait accompli, will he give an assurance that we shall have an early opportunity of discussing this matter?

Mr. Butler

The best thing that I can say in reply is that I will discuss that with my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer and my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade. Clearly, it raises an issue of great importance. I should not like at present to give an undertaking about a day for discussion, because this particular concept is one which will take a long time to develop; but as long as I can tell my hon. Friend that I will discuss it and inform him and the House, I hope that he will feel satisfied.

Mr. D. Jones

Now that the right hon. Gentleman has returned from taking part in the celebrations on the formation of an independent country in the Commonwealth, does he think that he can find some Parliamentary time to provide the necessary statutory security for railway-men. shop and office workers, as recommended in the Gowers Report?

Mr. Butler

That is a matter for which I am sure there will not be time in this Session. As for next Session, I think that we had better wait until we hear the next Gracious Speech.

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