HC Deb 23 April 1959 vol 604 cc614-7
Mr. Gaitskell

May I ask the Lord Privy Seal wheather 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, 27TH APRIL—Debate on Foreign Affairs with special reference to European Problems and Disarmament, which will arise on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House.

TUESDAY, 28TH APRIL—Second Reading of the Finance Bill.

Consideration of the Motion to approve the Import Duties (General) (Various Goods) Order.

WEDNESDAY, 29TH APRIL— Report and Third Reading of the Deer (Scotland) Bill [Lords].

THURSDAY, 30TH APRIL— Supply [11th Allotted Day]: Committee.

Debate on Youth Employment Problems, with particular reference to the lack of Apprenticeship and Industrial Training Schemes.

FRIDAY, 1ST MAY—Consideration of private Members' Motions.

The House may wish to know that the Ballot for Notices of Motions on going into Committee of Supply on the Civil Estimates will take place in the House after Questions on Thursday, 30th April.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether he will continue to bear in mind the need for a debate on the Report of the Select Committee on Procedure so that the appropriate changes may be made in our practices for the next and any subsequent Session of this Parliament?

Mr. Butler

The evidence, which is somewhat voluminous, has not yet been published. I think it important that we should have the evidence available before we have a debate, although I realise the importance of such a discussion

Mr. H. Hynd

Has the attention of the Leader of the House been drawn to a Motion, signed by myself and a number of hon. Members from both sides of the House, referring to the necessity for some arrangements being made to enable Parliament to question Ministers about police forces outside the Metropolitan Police area?

[That this House, feeling that it may become desirable from time to time for questions to be raised about the actions of police outside the Metropolitan area, asks the Government to examine this matter with a view to some Minister being authorised to answer such questions.]

Mr. Butler

My attention has been drawn to that Motion. It would not be possible to alter the existing system without further consideration, and possibly legislation. Therefore, I do not think that any immediate step can be taken. The present arrangement is rooted in the local government system of the country. I cannot say any more in answer to the hon. Member, except that I have noted his question.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Can my right hon. Friend say whether the Government have it in mind to make a statement at the appropriate time about the progress made with the establishment of the Cypriot State?

Mr. Butler

Naturally, the Government would wish the House to have the whole of the necessary material in its possession. But I do not think that the situation is quite ripe yet for a statement to be made. I will bear in mind what has been said by my hon. Friend.

Mr. S. Silverman

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider whether it might not be desirable and useful to hon. Members on both sides of the House if the Government could find an early opportunity to enable the House to discuss in general terms the statement made by the President of the Board of Trade on the reorganisation of the cotton industry, a few minutes ago? Would not it be a good idea to follow past practice in relation to important questions, and have a general debate before the Government commit themselves to definite proposals in a Bill?

Mr. Butler

There have been some exchanges after Question Time which have been noted by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade and the Government. I can give no indication about time for a debate, because it is the intention of the Government to introduce a Bill. When that is done it will be possible to consider the matter fully and make use of all the opportunities which the introduction of a Bill provides for making suggestions, amendments, and so forth. That is the present objective of the Government.

Mr. H. Wilson

Will the right hon. Gentleman take serious note of the suggestion of my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman)? Presumably the Measure would be an enabling Bill, which would facilitate help for various schemes within the industry. There was nothing in the statement which the President of the Board of Trade made this afternoon about the schemes which the industry has submitted. Would not it be worth while to consider the publication of a White Paper in advance of the Bill to show, for example, how many mills it is expected to close and what the terms of the compensation will be? It will be impossible to debate the Bill unless we know what schemes the industry are putting forward. Otherwise, we shall have to move Amendments to the Bill to deal with an unknown set of regulations which will be made afterwards. Would it not be helpful to have a White Paper first?

Mr. Butler

The object of the Bill is to help one of the oldest and most important industries in Lancashire and, therefore, any step that we can take to make it easier to help that industry should be investigated.

Mr. Swingler

The right hon. Gentleman will agree that the debate on foreign affairs on Monday will be very important and will probably be the last chance afforded to hon. Members to discuss international affairs before the Foreign Ministers' conference on 11th May. As there is likely to be the usual long queue of Privy Councillors who wish to speak, as is the case in most foreign affairs debates, would the Leader of the House sympathetically consider suspending the rule for one hour to give a greater number of back benchers a chance to speak this time?

Mr. Butler

I will consider any request made to me from an hon. Member for such an extension, but I should have to test whether that was the general view.

Mr. Hale

In considering the introduction of an enabling Bill in connection with the cotton industry, will the right hon Gentleman bear in mind that there has been a growing practice recently of drawing the short Title of a Bill with the clear intention of limiting discussion and excluding consideration of a vast number of very important debatable matters affecting that with which the Bill is concerned? In view of the great concern shown at the announcement of the President of the Board of Trade this afternoon, will the Leader of the House give an undertaking that when the Government's Bill is introduced it will be so drafted as to permit of improvement, amendment and expansion, and not be limited to a policy of contraction?

Mr. Butler

My duty in answering business questions is not to get too entrenched in matters of policy but to make the business of the House go more smoothly. I can only note the point put by the hon. Gentleman and discuss it with my right hon. Friend.

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