HC Deb 03 December 1959 vol 614 cc1390-6
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 (Mr. R. A. Butler)

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

MONDAY, 7TH DECEMBER—Supply: Committee.

Consideration of Civil Supplementary Estimates and Army Supplementary Estimate contained in House of Commons Papers Nos. 27 and 26, beginning with Class IX, Vote 6A for the Office of the Minister for Science.

It is hoped to obtain these Votes by 7 o'clock, when it is proposed to afford an opportunity for a discussion of the Opposition Motion relating to Racial Intolerance and Discrimination.

Consideration of a Motion relating to the Western European Union (Immunities and Privileges) Order.

TUESDAY, 8TH DECEMBER, and WEDNESDAY, 9TH DECEMBER—Local Employment Bill: Committee.

We hope to finish the Committee stage on Wednesday, the 9th.

THURSDAY, 10TH DECEMBER—Debate on Traffic Problems.

Consideration of Police Pensions Regulations and similar Regulations for Scotland.

FRIDAY, 11TH DECEMBER—Consideration of Private Members' Bills.

It may be convenient for me to inform the House that, if all necessary business has been disposed of, it is hoped that it will be possible to adjourn for the Christmas Recess on Thursday, 17th December, until Tuesday, 26th January.

Mr. Gaitskell

On Thursday's business, am I right in thinking that this will take place on an Opposition Motion?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir; I understand that that is the wish of the Opposition.

Mr. Gaitskell

May I, then, say that it will be drawn in wide terms so as not to restrict the debate too narrowly.

Mr. C. Pannell

Is the Leader of the House still seized of the need to provide more accommodation in the building? Is he aware that, upstairs in the rooms where desks are provided for hon. Members who have not secretaries, efforts are now being made to pack in still more desks to an extent which would bring the House in conflict with the sanitary inspector were this building not a Royal Palace?

Will the right hon. Gentleman at least see that he is refreshed by the opinion of the House before we rise for Christmas, so that he can put the works in hand during the Recess?

Mr. Butler

In any case, with the aid of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Works, we are planning for the future in relation to accommodation. How quickly we may then satisfy hon. Members I do not know, but we are planning. As for the possibility of a debate, I am not sure that there will be time, but whether there is time or not before Christmas, hon. Members should realise that we are fully aware of the difficulties which they are going through.

Mr. George Craddock

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen my Motion on the Order Paper, supported by 73 of my hon. Friends, concerning a directive given a jury at Nottingham Assizes on 25th November last? In view of the deep and growing concern over this matter, and, I fear, the raising perhaps of the constitutional position of juries, will the Leader of the House be good enough to provide Parliamentary time to debate the matter before the Christmas Recess?

[That this House deplores the direction given to a jury at Nottingham Assizes on 25th November by Mr. Justice Stable, who said: "I will leave this court in 10 minutes, and if by that time you have not arrived at a conclusion you will be kept locked up here all night and we will resume when I get back tomorrow morning at 11.45 a.m.", believing that such pressure exercised upon any jury is calculated to undermine the faith of the nation in our courts of justice.]

Mr. S. Silverman

On a point of order. My hon. Friend will know that I have every sympathy with the object of his Motion, but is it not a fact that this matter is under appeal and, therefore, sub judice, and that, therefore, it might not be to anybody's advantage to pursue it in the House of Commons at this time?

Mr. Speaker

I do not have specific knowledge of the matter raised by the hon. Member. It is possible that the Leader of the House can give the House some information on that. If, of course, the matter is under appeal, clearly it could not be debated during that time.

Mr. Butler

I am informed that in the case to which the hon. Member refers one of the convicted men is almost certain to appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal, and I am further informed that appeal is under consideration on behalf of some or all of the other men convicted. In the circumstances, I think that the intervention of the hon. Member for Nelson and Come (Mr. S. Silverman) is very sound and that we should not pursue the matter for the time being.

Mr. George Craddock

May I say that I have gone carefully into this matter. It is perfectly true that there is till Monday next during which time an appeal may be lodged, but this has not happened, and I understand that some action is being taken in another place today.

Mr. Hale

Could the Leader of the House tell us how far he has got with his consideration of the Report of the Select Committee on Procedure, and whether we shall have an opportunity of coming to that fairly soon? Will he bear in mind, too, that one of the recommendations, that the business for next week should be announced on the preceding Monday, is one which he could implement forthwith even without debate, and that a second, that Mr. Speaker should not have to put the Question on Privilege on the moment, appears to be becoming one of some urgency?

Mr. Butler

Yes. I have had consultations on all these matters of procedure, not only through the usual channels but also with individual hon. Members who have been good enough to see me and express their views. I propose to try to adhere to the timetable which I announced at the beginning of this Parliament, namely, that I should lay Motions necessary for making these alterations in the procedure and make the necessary alterations on our return after the Christmas Recess. I shall endeavour to continue the conversations, to say as much as I can to the House before. That will not necessarily delay the Motion I suggest for making the changes when we return.

Mr. Ronald Bell

Is my right hon. Friend aware of another very important recommendation by that Select Committee, that Privy Councillors should not enjoy priority at Question Time? Is there any reason why we should not introduce that as from today?

Mr. Butler

This is a matter, Mr. Speaker, which I think the Select Committee on Procedure realised lay within your own province.

Mr. Mendelson

In considering future business, will the Leader of the House take into consideration the Motion standing on the Order Paper in my name and the names of 79 other hon. Members, which deals with the supply of arms of a nuclear type to Western Germany and with related matters? As a number of international conferences are discussing these matters at present, is it not very urgent that the House of Commons should debate the Motion, possibly before the Christmas Recess?

[That this House regrets the supply to Western Germany by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, and with the full consent of Her Majesty's Government, of tactical atomic weapons and missiles of nuclear capability; believes that this policy will foreclose debate on some of the most vital issues to be discussed at the delayed Summit Conference; and, therefore, urges Her Majesty's Government not to continue this policy until the Summit Conference has been held.]

Mr. Butler

It is a question of time. No one would underestimate the importance of the Motion, which I have before me here, but I could not myself guarantee the time.

Mrs. Castle

Further to the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell) about accommodation, is the Leader of the House aware that Members on this side of the House have some very strong views as to how the accommodation of the House could be improved, and that they may be views which do not necessarily agree with those being explored at the moment by the Government and the Minister of Works? Is not this a matter which ought to be a subject of all-party consideration and satisfaction? Is it not, therefore, urgent to have a debate on this matter before the Government produce their proposals in a final form and come to us with a fait accompli again? Cannot we have a debate before Christmas?

Mr. Butler

I think that an interchange would be valuable, but I am not sure that we can debate it before Christmas. I hope that if there are any improvements the hon. Lady wishes to bring to my attention she will do so.

Mr. Lipton

Can the right hon. Gentleman find time to discuss my Motion on the Order Paper calling for the removal of a magistrate of the Wokingham Bench? Is he aware that when, in accordance with the fairly well-established convention in these matters, a removal from a judicial post is involved, time is usually found for such a Motion so that the Motion does not stay on the Order Paper indefinitely?

[That this House takes note that, on 19th October last at Wokingham Juvenile Court, Mr. Leonard Hackett, J.P., addressed an accused person in the following terms; "What you richly deserve is such a thorough thrashing that you would be senseless for about forty-eight hours. Very unfortunately this court has no power, and no other court has any power, to order you to be so punished. However, I have no doubt that if you continue in your present way of life this punishment you will receive, and it will not be ordered by a court of law but by other men in whose society you will find yourself"; and this House is therefore of the opinion that Mr. Hackett should be removed from the list of magistrates.]

An Hon. Member

Take the Motion off.

Mr. Butler

If the hon. Member is not ready to accept that advice from my side of the House, I should like to examine his Motion.

Mr. V. Yates

May I come back to the Motion on the Order Paper in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, South (Mr. George Craddock), about which a point of order was raised? Is the Leader of the House aware that counsel who are appealing this case have said that they have no intention of appealing on the grounds of the remarks to which the Motion takes objection? If this is so, is it not then reasonable that the House should express an opinion?

Mr. Butler

I do not think that it is suitable, subject to your discretion, Mr. Speaker, that we should pursue this matter today.

Mr. Harold Davies

When the right hon. Gentleman answered a question about a Motion on the Order Paper in the names of 80 Members on the nuclear rearmament of Germany, did he imply that the House would not have an opportunity of debating that or foreign affairs before the Western Summit Conference? Are we once again to be presented by the Government with a fait accompli after a Recess? Would the right hon. Gentleman kindly tell us whether the House is to have an opportunity before the Western Summit for a debate on foreign affairs and on the vital issue of the rearmament of Germany with nuclear weapons?

Mr. Butler

I think it unlikely that time will be available, but perhaps the hon. Member would consult his own right hon. and hon. Friends as well, as business is not entirely a matter decided from one side of the House, but is done a great deal by discussion.

Mr. Swingler

In view of the undertaking of the Prime Minister to announce the date of the Summit Conference in the few days which have taken place since the General Election, does not the right hon. Gentleman consider that it would be fair to the House to have the opportunity of discussing the important issues raised in that Motion? Is the right' hon. Gentleman suggesting we are not to have an opportunity to discuss this matter this side of 26th January?

Mr. Butler

It does not appear at present as if there will be an occasion on which we can discuss it.

Mr. Shinwell rose

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Reverting to the subject of the Select Committees on Procedure and on Accommodation, my right hon. Friend said earlier this Session that both were important subjects and were worthy of separate debates. Will he confirm that that is what he still has in mind? Will he also bear in mind that while a number of questions for consideration have been raised from the other side of the House, there is a good deal of feeling on this side of the House that these are important subjects and should not be forgotten?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. It seems quite clear that we shall have an opportunity of debating procedure on our return, no doubt, on the action I propose to take, namely, the laying of a Motion. As regards accommodation, in view of the exceptional interest we shall no doubt have an exchange of views, and there will be opportunity for that, but I do not think that that will occur before Christmas.

Mr. Shinwell

May I have leave to put a question to the Leader of the House, with apologies to the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke)? [HON. MEMBERS: "Go on."] Arising out of the question about a Motion which has been placed on the Order Paper by my hon. Friend, helped by several other hon. Members on this side of the House, is the right hon. Gentleman aware of what is now proceeding in the European sphere, and the discussions between Dr. Adenauer and General de Gaulle on the further provision of nuclear weapons and missiles to Western Germany?

If the right hon. Gentleman cannot agree to a debate before the Christmas Recess, will he communicate with the Foreign Secretary and cause, at any rate, a suspension of those decisions about providing such weapons to Western Germany in the meantime?

Mr. Butler

I will certainly convey those views to my right hon. and learned Friend. On business, I can answer only for the actual time, but I will convey the right hon. Gentleman's views.