HC Deb 09 July 1959 vol 608 cc1564-9
Mr. Gaitskell

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will state the business of the House 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, 13TH JULY—Debate on the Report from the Select Committee on Procedure.

TUESDAY, 14TH JULY—Consideration of the Schemes and Order relating to the Herring Industry and the White Fish Industry, which it is hoped to obtain by 8 o'clock; the Post Office Submarine Cable System Agreement; the Greenwich Hospital and Travers' Foundation Accounts; and of the Probation Officers and Clerks (Superannuation) Regulations; the Electricity (Staff Compensation) Regulations; and the South of Scotland Electricity Board Regulations.

WEDNESDAY, 15TH JULY—Supply [22nd Allotted Day]: Committee.

Debate on the National Health Services in England, Wales and Scotland.

THURSDAY, 16TH JULY—Supply [23rd Allotted Day]: Committee.

Debate on Aircraft Production for Civil and Military Purposes.

FRIDAY, 17TH JULY—Consideration of the Revised Highway Code; the Special Roads (Classes of Traffic) Order; the Motor Vehicles (Speed Limit on Special Roads) Regulations; and of the Transferred Undertakings (Compensation to Employees) Regulations.

Mr. Gaitskell

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the Devlin Commission has yet reported and, if so, when the Report is likely to be published? Can he now give an assurance that arrangements will be made for a debate on the subject before the Recess?

Mr. Butler

The Report has not yet been received by Her Majesty's Government and I have nothing more to add to what my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary said on 30th June, that he hoped to receive it about the middle of July and to publish it as soon as possible thereafter. It is our wish that there should be a debate before the House rises.

As regards the exact date of publication of the Report, I cannot interfere in the discretion of the Devlin Commission.

Mr. Ernest Davies

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when the White Paper on the reappraisal of the modernisation programme of British Railways and the finances of the Transport Commission will be published? Can he give an assurance that it will be published in ample time to allow a debate upon it, as well as upon the Transport Commission's Report and Accounts, before we adjourn for the Summer Recess?

Mr. Butler

I could not give that undertaking. I will endeavour to find out the exact date of publication and inform the hon. Member.

Mr. Russell

Has my right hon. Friend been able to give any further consideration to the Motion concerning pensions of certain colonial civil servants, which stands in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Wavertree (Mr. Tilney) and which is supported by Members on all sides?

[That this House draws the attention of Her Majesty's Government to the wide differences between pension scales paid to retired colonial civil servants by Her Majesty's Government and those paid by certain Governments of both dependent and independent territories within the Commonwealth; and urges Her Majesty's Government to use its influence with the Governments of the territories whose scales of pensions fall below present standards to make compensating increases.]

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. I have the Motion before me. I have certainly given it consideration and so have my right hon. Friends concerned, but I could not give any undertaking at this stage about a debate.

Mr. Beswick

I wonder whether the Leader of the House noticed that two important Questions on the Order Paper, addressed to the Prime Minister today, were, again, not reached, and that this bears out the remarks, embodied in the Report of the Select Committee on Procedure, that it is very unusual to complete the whole of the Prime Minister's Questions on any day. In view of that, is there any chance of at least that part of the Select Committees' recommendations being adopted?

Mr. Butler

We are to debate the Select Committee's Report on Monday, when I shall be giving the point of view of myself as Leader of the House. In so far as I can give the point of view of the Government, I will do so, and also of my right hon. Friends. I hope that the House will not be disappointed with my reply.

Sir F. Medlicott

Has my right hon. Friend been able to study the Motion on the Order Paper concerning the sale of intoxicants on the new motorways and, if so, can he hold out any hope of a debate on that Motion and on the allied and serious subjects raised by the Report of the Drew Committee to the Medical Research Council?

[That this House regrets the decision made by the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation to permit applications for table licences to supply intoxicants in the service stations of the new motorways in view of the Drew Committee's Report to the Medical Research Council that there is an average loss of 16 per cent. in a motor driver's efficiency after the consumption of only ordinary doses of alcohol; and calls for an early official publication of the report which, though it was promised by the Government when Parliament considered the Traffic Act as long ago as 1955, has hitherto appeared only in the medical journals.]

Mr. Butler

I cannot hold out hope of an actual day. We have a great deal of business on Friday relating to roads and the Highway Code. Whether my hon. Friend will have the ingenuity to bring the matter in on that occasion, I cannot say.

Mr. Foot

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been called to a Motion on the Order Paper, which stands in the names of myself and of 40 of my right hon. and hon. Friends, regarding the detention without trial over long periods of time of British subjects and British-protected persons in Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia and Kenya?

[That this House condemns the prolonged arbitrary detention, restriction or rustication in Kenya, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland of large numbers of Her Majesty's subjects and British-protected persons who have never been convicted in any Court or charged with any criminal offence; is of opinion that these practices are contrary to Magna Carta, the Petition of Right, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights; and calls upon Her Majesty's Government immediately to review the emergency powers and other instruments which make possible such denials of justice.]

In view of the great importance and urgency of this matter, especially to the persons concerned, will the Leader of the House provide facilities for a debate before the House rises?

Mr. Butler

There has been an understanding through the usual channels that we shall attempt to have a debate on African subjects before we adjourn. Therefore, I hope that this matter will be covered in such a debate. There is also the report by Mr. Fairn who has gone there from the British Prison Service, and we hope that his report may be published as well. That would aid the matter as regards Kenya. The whole question had, however, better be discussed in an African debate.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Will my right hon. Friend be good enough to consider the provision of an extra hour for Monday's business, in view of the number and complications of the recommendations of the Select Committee and the number of hon. Members who may wish to speak?

Mr. Butler

I would listen to any representations made by hon. Members. At present, we shall stick to 10 o'clock, but I am ready to receive representations from hon. Members.

Mr. Patrick Maitland

Has my right hon. Friend given further consideration to the request for a debate on the Commonwealth Education Conference, which opens this coming week?

Mr. Butler

I should like to do so, but we also would like to get away for our Summer Recess. [HON. MEMBERS: "When?"] I have to balance both these considerations.

Mr. H. Morrison

Is Monday's debate on the Report of the Select Committee on Procedure to be a general debate for the collection of voices rather than upon a Motion expressing an opinion at this stage?

Mr. Butler

The idea would be to take note of the Report of the Committee and to obtain the voices of hon. Members, on both sides, with a view to action at a later date in tabling the necessary Motions. It would be a great mistake to make up our minds until we have heard the views of right hon. and hon. Members.

Mr. Shinwell

To ensure that as many right hon. and hon. Members as possible have an opportunity of speaking in the debate on Monday, could we adopt, to begin with, one of the recommendations of the Select Committee, that there should be five-minute speeches?

Mr. Butler

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman can assist in reaching a final decision on the Report by giving an example himself.

Mr. Nabarro

Garrulous Privy Councillors.

Mr. Osborne

Concerning Tuesday's business, if more hon. Members wish to discuss what to some of us is the very important question of the problems of the fishing industry, will the debate be allowed to go beyond 8 o'clock? Why is it to be restricted until 8 o'clock?

Mr. Butler

I think that that is a reasonable time for fish.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

Can the light hon. Gentleman say what Friday's debate on the Highway Code be based on? Will it be possible to have a fairly wide-ranging discussion?

Mr. Butler

I think that it will be limited only by the limitations of the Highway Code.

Mr. Rankin

The Leader of the House has made two indirect references to the adjournment for the Summer Recess. Is he thinking about it? If so, can he say whether we shall adjourn on 24th July and return in the last week of September, and that the General Election will be held on 15th October?

Mr. Butler

No. All I can say is that I wish I knew.

Mr. H. A. Price

Reverting to Monday's debate, and to the suggestion by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), could we not save even more time if we conducted the debate by telegram?

Mr. Blyton

Can the Leader of the House say whether a day will be provided, before we rise, for a discussion of the terrible Report by Mr. Justice Phillimore on the crash, involving loss of life, of an aircraft owned by a private airways company?

Mr. Butler

I should like to consider that in view of the seriousness of the Report. I think that we shall have some difficulty in finding time, but I should like to consider what the hon. Member has said.

Mr. Chetwynd

Would it not help Monday's debate on procedure if Privy Councillors adopted recommendations of the Select Committee and imposed a vow of silence upon themselves?

Mrs. Slater

My hon. Friend, too?

Mr. Farey-Jones

My right hon. Friend referred to a debate on civil and military aircraft production. Will this debate be wide enough to permit the House to discuss the position of the aircraft industry as a whole?

Mr. Butler

I thought that what I announced was a very wide description, and I should have thought that it would have covered the point which my hon. Friend wishes covered.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Reverting to the first part of the supplementary question by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin), may I ask the Leader of the House to tell us when he thinks the Summer Recess will start, since it is a matter of importance to quite a number of hon. Members?

Mr. Butler

It always depends on the good behaviour of hon. Members and the progress made with the business.