HC Deb 29 January 1959 vol 598 cc1253-7
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, 2ND FEBRUARY — Second Reading of the Malta (Letters Patent) Bill.

TUESDAY, 3RD FEBRUARY — Second Reading of the Deer (Scotland) Bill [Lords.]

Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

Committee and remaining stages of the European Monetary Agreement Bill.

WEDNESDAY, 4TH FEBRUARY — Committee stage of the House Purchase and Housing Bill.

THURSDAY, 5TH FEBRUARY—It is hoped to conclude the Committee stage of the House Purchase and Housing Bill.

Report stage of the New Towns [Money] Resolution.

Consideration of the two Import Duties Orders, which are already on the Order Paper.

FRIDAY, 6TH FEBRUARY—Consideration of Private Members' Motions.

Mr. Gaitskell

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when the financial agreement with Egypt is likely to be signed, and when the Government's announcement on the subject may be expected?

Mr. Butler

A Government announcement will be made after the agreement is signed and I have ascertained that that may be in the course of the next few days. I agree that when the agreement is signed—and the work is now proceeding towards a signature—the House of Commons should be informed.

Mr. Gaitskell

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the possibility of publishing a White Paper containing the agreement, so that we shall know exactly what its provisions are?

Mr. Butler

I will certainly discuss that with my right hon. and learned Friend. It is certainly important that the House of Commons should have the maximum information on the subject.

Captain Kerby

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the Motion on Service pensions, standing in my name and signed by no fewer than 60 of my hon. Friends? If so, when can we expect to be given time to pursue the matter further?

[That this House calls upon Her Majesty's Government to improve the ordinary pensions of existing widows of members of the Fighting Services and the widows of those retired before 1st April, 1959, which were described by the Grigg Committee as ludicrously low; and to improve obsolete rates of Armed Service retired pay; recognises that the increased cost of living affects equally those long retired and those who now retire; and further, calls upon Her Majesty's Government to improve the conditions of these people.]

Mr. Butler

I cannot give an undertaking at present, but I realise the importance which my hon. and gallant Friend attaches to the subject.

Mr. Chetwynd

Can the Leader of the House say when the promised White Paper on the European Free Trade Area negotiations and also the Defence White Paper will be available?

Mr. Butler

I cannot say in respect of the Defence White Paper, but the White Paper on the European Free Trade Area negotiations will be laid tomorrow.

Mr. P. Morris

As we have not had a debate on Welsh affairs for more than a year, can the right hon. Gentleman say when he is likely to provide time for such a debate? When may we expect the report on Government activity in Wales? If that publication is likely to be delayed, we shall press for a debate on the increasing unemployment in Wales.

Mr. Butler

This is a matter of general interest as well as of interest to Welsh Members, and we must, therefore, discuss it through the usual channels.

Mr. J. Hynd

The right hon. Gentleman has said that the White Paper on European Free Trade Area is to be published tomorrow. When are we to have a debate on this issue, a debate which the Government have evaded time after time for various reasons and which they more or less promised for shortly after the Christmas Recess?

Mr. Butler

We have not evaded the issue. The White Paper will be comparatively short, but the documents accompanying it are very long. It will, therefore, be necessary for hon. Members to study them before we can arrange a day for debate. When hon. Members are ready, we can discuss a day for the debate.

Mr. Ross

Since Standing Committee D meets not only on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, but on Tuesday afternoon, to deal with the Town and Country Planning Bill, which furthers the interests of landowners, will the right hon. Gentleman use his influence with the Minister of Housing and Local Government to put off the meeting on Tuesday afternoon of next week, because of the importance of the Bill to be dealt with in the House on that afternoon, a Bill which also furthers the interests of Scottish landowners? In that way, hon. Members will not have to stay in Standing Committee when they want to be here in the House.

Mr. Butler

I will study the coincidence of business to which the hon. Member refers and consult my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Deer (Scotland) Bill was originally introduced under the title "Red Deer (Scotland) Bill", and whether the other place objected to the word "Red"? Is this a Bill to give long-term security to deer? If so, will the right hon. Gentleman tell us when he intends to introduce a Bill to give long-term security to Scottish farmers?

Mr. Butler

The Bill has been through the Upper House not unaccompanied by incidents of various kinds. It is now to be considered by us, but the Amendment suggested by the hon. Member was not made by another place, however unruly it may have been.

Mr. Rankin

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when we are to have an opportunity to discuss the annual reports of the nationalised Airways Corporations?

Mr. Butler

Not at present. Perhaps we can also discuss that with the Opposition.

Mr. Awbery

Since negotiations over Malta took place for six weeks and then collapsed, will the right hon. Gentleman undertake to supply hon. Members with a White Paper on the subject before our debate on Monday?

Mr. Butler

My right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary is placing in the Library a summary record of the two meetings which he had with the delegation, and some copies of correspondence. Perhaps that will meet the convenience of the hon. Member.

Mr. Awbery

Cannot the right hon. Gentleman put before the House a record of all that took place in that period? There is much disquiet on the island, and the House should know more than it does.

Mr. Bevan

When will the summary record be placed in the Library?

Mr. Butler

I am informed that, in answer to a Question which was not reached today, my right hon. Friend undertook to place this material in the Library, and I presume that he is doing so today.

Mr. Bevan

Does the right hon. Gentleman think that that gives enough time? These negotiations ended a long time ago. Now, at the last moment, only one Parliamentary day before Monday's debate, his right hon. Friend thinks that he has been courteous to the House by placing in the Library a resumé of the documents.

Mr. Butler

I was only giving the right hon. Gentleman and the House the information given in the reply to a Question which was not reached, so that the House could have it at the first possible opportunity. I should imagine that that information, combined with the general public information on the subject, should provide sufficient information for a discussion on Monday

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