HC Deb 17 April 1958 vol 586 cc355-9
Mr. Gaitskell

May I ask the Leader of the House to 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, 21ST APRIL—Conclusion of the general debate on the Budget Resolutions and the Economic Situation.

TUESDAY, 22ND APRIL—Supply [11th Allotted Day]: Committee.

The Ministry of Transport Votes will be considered.

WEDNESDAY, 23RD APRIL—Report stage of the Budget Resolutions.

Report and Third Reading of the Slaughterhouses Bill.

THURSDAY, 24TH APRIL—Second Reading of the Landlord and Tenant (Temporary Provisions) Bill.

FRIDAY, 25TH APRIL—Consideration of Private Members' Motions.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Ministry of Transport Votes which we shall ask to be tabled include those concerned with the financial position of the British Transport Commission, working conditions arising from the denationalisation of the road haulage industry, and the roads programme? We shall not be concerned with the wages disputes in regard to the railways or buses which are occurring at the present time.

Mr. Butler

We are obliged to the right hon. Gentleman, and shall take note of the Opposition's wishes.

Mr. Peyton

I do not want to be guilty of tedious repetition, but will my right hon. Friend reconsider the question of finding time to debate the Motion on flags of convenience, which, I suggest, has not received the attention of Parliament which its strategic and commercial importance warrants?

[That this House, while recognising the value of the recent increase in the investment allowance given by Her Majesty's Government to the United Kingdom shipping industry, nevertheless records its extreme concern at the difficulties caused to the industry by the virtual freedom from taxation enjoyed by ships flying certain flags of convenience, and, in view of the unique position of British shipping as the lifeline of an island nation, calls for further measures to strengthen its competitive power.]

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. We have considered the important Motion which my hon. Friend has on the Order Paper, and which is backed by a great many hon. Members on both sides of the House. At present, I cannot undertake to find Government time. As my hon. Friend will remember, there are two more Ballots for Private Members' time—and I would also draw his attention, and that of his hon. Friends, to the fact that it would be quite in order to raise this question in the course of a financial discussion such as that upon which we are engaged today, as it deals with the question of taxation. I hope that he can, therefore, find opportunities of airing this subject. If he will, he can certainly keep in touch with me on the matter.

Mr. Jay

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider introducing—if possible, next week—a much more drastic amendment of the Rent Act, in view of the crushing vote of censure on that Act, and indeed, on the Government, which was passed by the people of London yesterday?

Mr. Butler

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government is moving the Second Reading of the Landlord and Tenant (Temporary Provisions) Bill, as announced, on Thursday next. I think that it will give a further opportunity for the proper comprehension of the merits of the Rent Act. If that proper comprehension is undertaken, I think that certain results will be more favourable to us.

Mr. S. Silverman

Why is there any need to amend the Act?

Mr. Shinwell

Reverting to the request made by the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) for a debate upon the problem which now concerns the shipping industry and which affects our whole economic life, does the right hon. Gentleman regard it as reasonable that this question should be the subject of a Private Member's Motion, or be considered in a limited form in the course of a debate on the Finance Bill? Would it not be wise to have a serious debate, initiated by the Government, upon an important economic matter of this kind? If there is some difficulty about the usual channels, will not the right hon. Gentleman use his influence with them, in order to stimulate both sides of the House and enable us to have this important debate?

Mr. Butler

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will use his own influence with his hon. Friends in stimulating the channels in his direction.

Mr. Shinwell

I have not got any influence.

Mr. P. Williams

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that this matter of flags of convenience runs right across party lines and transcends all temporary advantage? There is considerable feeling both inside and outside the House on this matter. If it is impossible for the Government to find special time for this matter, will he give an assurance that if a suitable Amendment is moved to the Finance Bill he will not only welcome it, but support it?

Mr. Butler

The wise course would be to wait and see the nature of the Amendment which my hon. Friend has in mind. I do not in any way underestimate the importance of this subject. My difficulty—as is often the case with the Leader of the House—is to find time. I can tell right hon. Gentlemen opposite and my hon. Friend that we shall continue to watch this subject with proper attention.

Mr. Brockway

In view of the deterioration in racial relations in the Colony of Kenya, as illustrated by the legal action taken against seven African elected members, will the right hon. Gentleman give the House an early opportunity to debate that subject?

Mr. Butler

All that I can do is note what the hon. Member says. I cannot give any undertaking at present.

Mr. Royle

Is the right hon. Gentleman quite satisfied that on Wednesday he has allocated sufficient time to the Slaughterhouses Bill, in view of the fact that there are already 16 pages of Amendments for the Report stage? Does he not think that the time has come when the Government might be included within the terms of the Bill?

Mr. Butler

I had expected that that observation would be made at some stage. The Bill has had a very exhaustive and exhausting discussion in Committee. Many hon. Members of the Committee, and the House as a whole, will be only too well satisfied if we can finish the Bill in the time allocated, and I think that it should be possible to do so.

Mr. Stonehouse

In support of what has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Brockway), may I ask the Lord Privy Seal whether he is aware that not only is there a constitutional crisis in Kenya, but that one is also developing in Uganda, where the elections arranged under the 1955 Agreement are not to be held? Is he also aware that a constitutional crisis is likely to develop in Tanganyika because of the imposition of the tripartite system of voting? In view of all that, does not he consider that time should be allocated for a debate on these subjects?

Mr. Butler

That is a matter more for the Colonial Office Vote, but I note what the hon. Member says.

Mr. J. Griffiths

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that we are very anxious about the situation in Kenya and may desire to have an opportunity, in the not too distant future, to discuss the matter in the House?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir.