HC Deb 12 February 1959 vol 599 cc1359-66
Mr. Gaitskell

May I ask the Prime Minister whether he will state the business of the House for next week?

The Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Macmillan)

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

MONDAY, 16TH FEBRUARY—Second Reading of the International Bank and Monetary Fund Bill.

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

Committee and remaining stages of the Malta (Letters Patent) Bill.

TUESDAY, 17TH FEBRUARY—Committee and remaining stages of the Electricity (Borrowing Powers) Bill.

WEDNESDAY, 18TH FEBRUARY—Supply [2nd Allotted Day]: Committee.

Civil Estimates and Estimates for Revenue Departments, Vote on Account, 1959–60.

A debate will take place on Foreign Affairs at the request of the Opposition.

THURSDAY, 19TH FEBRUARY—Completion of the Committee stage of the House Purchase and Housing Bill.

FRIDAY, 20TH FEBRUARY—Consideration of Private Members' Motions.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is the Prime Minister aware that as the debate on Wednesday arises out of the visit by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary to Moscow, we feel that the time for it should have been provided by the Government? Will he give an assurance that at least the Government will find time for a debate on Cyprus as soon as their statement on this matter has been made?

The Prime Minister

I should like to consider that. I am not an expert on these precise allocations of time, but perhaps that could be discussed through the usual channels.

Sir D. Robertson

Can the Prime Minister say anything today about John Waters, a young constituent of mine, whose case was the subject of many Questions on Tuesday, and is also the subject of a Motion on the Order Paper, signed by many hon. Members on both sides of the House?

[That this House calls upon Her Majesty's Government to set up a Select Committee of this House to inquire into the case of John Waters and to advise this House whether the said John Waters was assaulted by certain police officers as alleged, and in what circumstances it was decided that no prosecution should be instituted.]

The Prime Minister

A full statement about the matter will be made on Monday next.

Mr. J. Hynd

Can the Prime Minister tell the House whether, during the foreign affairs debate on Wednesday, we shall be able to discuss the Suez settlement, or will there be a separate debate on it later?

The Prime Minister

I understand, Mr. Speaker, and you will correct me if I am wrong, that in a debate of this kind discussion can range very wide. Sometimes, as a matter of convenience, it is thought best to confine it to a specific subject, but nothing, I think, is out of order.

Sir J. Duncan

Has my right hon. Friend seen the Motion on the Order Paper, entitled "Germany (Disengagement and Peace)", signed by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) and some of his hon. Friends—

[That this House, realising that the present international tension cannot be relieved without a solution of the problem of Germany and without a peace treaty which safeguards Germany's neighbours against a resurgence of German military aggression, would welcome the de facto recognition of the German Democratic Republic by Her Majesty's Government and the formation, by agreement between that Republic and the German Federal Republic, of an all-German Federal Council with which a treaty of peace could be negotiated, providing for the admission of a united Germany to the United Nations and her exclusion from military alliances, in pursuance of a policy of disengagement.]—

to which an Amendment, to leave out from the first "Germany" to the end and to add: ["therefore urges Her Majesty's Government to take the initiative in convening a Four Power conference for the purpose of seeking agreement on terms for the re-unification of Germany under a freely elected government, and the drafting of a peace treaty which would enable Germany, in membership of the United Nations, to play her full part in the maintenance of world peace and economic advancement.]—

has been tabled and signed by at least five Privy Councillors on the opposite side of the House? Will the foreign affairs debate on Wednesday provide an opportunity for the rest of us to find out what their foreign policy on Germany is?

The Prime Minister

I find a certain delicacy in pressing this question too far. I am reminded of the answer to a question in a theology paper about the major and minor prophets, to which the examinee replied, "Far be it from me to distinguish between these holy men".

Mr. Gaitskell

Wednesday's foreign affairs debate is in Opposition time. Although, of course, I understand that a debate on the Civil Estimates, Vote on Account, would be in order, if it were very wide, may I say that it is our desire that this debate should be on the problem of Germany and European security and that we think it wiser to confine it to that subject rather than to launch into other subjects such as Suez or Cyprus, on which matters there may also be more than one holy man on the other side of the House?

The Prime Minister

The narrower the debate, the more we shall look forward to the reconciliation of those views which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition will put forward. It is, I understand, his practice to have a meeting of his party on Wednesday morning. so perhaps it will all be settled there.

Dr. King

Has the Prime Minister's attention been called to a Motion on the Order Paper, signed by hon. Members on both sides of the House, noting the fact that Monday next is the fiftieth anniversary of the OFFICIAL REPORT? If so, could he not arrange that at the beginning of Monday's business we should take note of this important event?

[That this House, noting that 16th February, 1959, is the fiftieth anniversary of the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Parliamentary Debates (HANSARD), congratulates all concerned with its daily production on the accuracy, integrity, industry and speed with which the Debates of this House are recorded, printed and preserved.]

The Prime Minister

I have seen this Motion. While I do not think that the House would wish to make it the subject of discussion, I think that all of us, whether old Members or more recent Members of the House, would wish to support the sentiments contained in the Motion; and to pay tribute to the excellent work done by those who have been, and are, concerned with the production of HANSARD.

Mr. Wigg

The Prime Minister did not announce that Tuesday's business will be interrupted to consider a Bill to widen the powers of the British Transport Commission. If that is to be the case, would he be kind enough to use his good offices to persuade the Chairman of the British Transport Commission to meet hon. Members from both sides of the House who are very dissatisfied about certain aspects of the Commission's policy in relation to taxi-drivers all over the country?

The Prime Minister

The Measure to which the hon. Gentleman refers is, I think, a Private Bill. I am informed that it is not the practice to announce a Private Bill in the Government's business statement, but I am told that the Chairman of Ways and Means is likely to set down the British Transport Commission's Bill for Second Reading at 7 o'clock on Tuesday next.

Mr. Wigg

Then will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to use his good offices with Sir Brian Robertson in an endeavour to persuade him to meet hon. Members before the Second Reading?

The Prime Minister

Much as I should like to help the hon. Gentleman, I should not like to answer affirmatively without looking very carefully into what are the proper relations between the Government and the chairmen of the nationalised industries.

Mr. H. Wilson

Can we expect this year, as we have had now for each of the last four years—an agreeable custom started by the right hon. Gentleman himself when Chancellor of the Exchequer —a general statement by the Chancellor on the Civil Estimates, which has usually been made on the day of presentation?

Is the Prime Minister aware that the Civil Estimates this year are £200 million up on last year; and that the row last year over £50 million led to what the right hon. Gentleman described as "certain local difficulties" in the Treasury? In view of that £200 million increase, would it not have been courteous for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to have followed the right hon. Gentleman's excellent example by making a statement to the House?

The Prime Minister

I do not know whether it was a good custom or not, Sir, but if it started four years ago, it was certainly not started by me.

Mr. Brockway

Has the Prime Minister noticed a Motion on the Order Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse) and myself suggesting that a message of good will and encouragement should be sent to the conference of Asian-African countries, in Colombo, called by the Prime Minister of Ceylon to consider economic co-operation? If he wishes to save the time of the House by not having a debate, can he say now that he will consider that proposal?

[That this House urges Her Majesty's Government, with a view to encouraging international co-operation, to convey good wishes and encouragement to the conference to be held at Colombo on the initiative of the Prime Minister of Ceylon to establish a common economic plan for Afro-Asian nations.]

The Prime Minister

Not next week, Sir.

Mr. F. Noel-Baker

May I direct the Prime Minister's attention to a Motion on the Order Paper, now signed by over 100 hon. Members—16 yesterday—referring to a question which, I understand, is due to receive sympathetic consideration from the Liberal Party, and which might have received support from some of the right hon. Gentleman's right hon. and hon. Friends in November last had not the Whips been put on? It relates to advertising, and the need for an inquiry. When shall we have an opportunity to discuss that Motion?

[That this House, noting the increasing power of the advertising industry and its influence upon our national life, and the growing impact of advertising on the individual, calls upon Her Majesty's Government to set up an independent inquiry to consider whether further safeguards are desirable in the public interest and, if so, what form such safeguards should take.]

The Prime Minister

Perhaps in private Member's time, if the hon. Gentleman were fortunate.

Mr. Stonehouse

Has the Prime Minister now seen the Motion on the Order Paper, signed by over 180 right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House, concerning conditions in Kenya prisons and detention camps? As we have now received four statements on oath from former officials of the Kenya prison service—Europeans who were in the prisons and made statements of guilt concerning prisoners there—can we have an opportunity of bringing these facts to the attention of the House?

[That this House urges the Secretary of State for the Colonies to institute an independent inquiry into the conditions and administration of prisons and detention camps in Kenya, including Lokitaung Prison, Northern Province, in view of allegations of ill treatment received from prisoners and detainees in Kenya and allegations about the conditions made by former officers of the Kenya Prison Service.]

The Prime Minister

I should have thought this a suitable subject for a Supply day, should the Opposition wish to use a Supply day for that purpose.

Mr. Rankin

A fortnight ago, I asked whether the Government would provide time for a debate on the two Reports of the nationalised airways corporations? Can the Prime Minister say whether a decision has been reached on the matter?

The Prime Minister

Under our present arrangements, we have days laid aside for the discussion of the nationalised industries. Perhaps it might be arranged, if that is convenient, for one of those days to be used for a discussion on the nationalised air corporations.

Mr. Speaker

Earlier, I interrupted the hon. Member for Carlisle (Dr. D. Johnson). Dr. Johnson.

Dr. D. Johnson

In today's Order Paper my name appears in support of the Motion tabled by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) entitled "Germany (Disengagement and Peace)". As I did not, in fact, sign this Motion, may I ask that my name be withdrawn from it? I should also like to say that I have accepted the explanation that my name appears there in mistake for another name.

Mr. J. Hynd

May I also draw attention, Sir, to the fact that to that same Motion there are 19 names that should have been added to the Amendment to the Motion?

Dr. Johnson

May I correct that, and say that there are now only 18 names?

Mr. Hynd

On this occasion there is no mistake or misunderstanding on the part of hon. Members. I understand that it is the printers' mistake. I should like to ask that a correction be made, and that these names be transferred to the Amendment.

On the point raised by the hon. Member for Carlisle (Dr. D. Johnson), I understand from the Table Office that the signature was that of someone of a similar name.

Mr. S. Silverman rose

Mr. Speaker

On the same point? Mr. Silverman.

Mr. Silverman

Mr. Speaker, while I have no knowledge of any of the matters which have been raised in these points of order, I am, naturally, very grateful for support from any quarter. Before any names are taken off, in response to the last point of order, which was raised by my hon. Friend, I hope that hon. Members will consider which Motion, or Amendment if any, they desire to support.

Mr. Speaker

I have made inquiries about the point made by the hon. Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd), and I find that it was due to a misprint on the part of the printers. If it is any extenuation, I ought to say that the staff of that branch of Her Majesty's Stationery Office is at present very depleted owing to the prevailing malady of influenza and that those who are left are working very hard. It is a mistake which I regret.

In reply to the question by the hon. Member for Carlisle (Dr. D. Johnson), I have seen the manuscript which was handed in and it says "D. Johnson". I do not know whether that means the hon. and learned Member for Paisley (Mr. D. Johnston), but, if so, it should be "Johnston", with a "t". However, it is "Johnson". I do not think that the printers were so much to blame there as the handwriting on the document.

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