HC Deb 05 November 1959 vol 612 cc1203-9
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, 9TH NOVEMBER, and TUESDAY, 10TH NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Local Employment Bill and Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

WEDNESDAY, 11TH NOVEMBER—Committee and remaining stages of the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill; the Marshall Scholarships Bill; and the Foreign Service Bill.

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

THURSDAY, 12TH NOVEMBER—Consideration of the Draft Army Act, 1955 (Continuation) Order; the Draft Air Force Act, 1955 (Continuation) Order; and of the Motions relating to the Ministry of National Service (Dissolution) Order and the Service Departments Supply (No. 2) Order.

FRIDAY, 13TH NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Post Office and Telegraph [Money] Bill.

Mr. Gaitskell

In view of the importance of the Local Employment Bill, which replaces all the previous legislation on this subject and is of much concern to a large number of hon. Members on both sides of the House, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the Government are prepared to take the Committee stage of the Bill on the Floor of the House?

Mr. Butler

I will note what the right hon. Gentleman has said and will give an answer on this point as soon as possible.

Mr. C. Pannell

Will the Leader of the House consider allotting an early day not only to a reconsideration of the Report of the Select Committee on Procedure but to bringing up again the report of the Stokes Committee on Accommodation? Most new Members of the House are appalled, when they first come here, by the paucity of accommodation. Does he not think, therefore, that very soon in this Parliament the whole matter of accommodation, as well as of procedure, should be reviewed?

Mr. Butler

It depends on the time available, but it would be useful to obtain the views of right hon. and hon. Members on procedure before the time comes for the laying of any Motion after Christmas. The question of accommodation has been puzzling us for some time and we have had various devices in mind. As the hon. Gentleman so well knows, since he has done so much about it himself, it is largely a question of building. Nevertheless, if any hon. Member has any ideas to put forward they will be well worth considering.

Mr. W. Yates

Has my right hon. Friend had an opportunity to read the Motion on the Order Paper concerning trade union law and practice?

[That this House, having regard to the original conception of the trades unions as bodies with the proper purpose of providing negotiating machinery between employers and employees, but recognising that their organisation is now used by a handful of irresponsible persons in such a manner as can paralyse any section of industry, however vital to the national economy, urges Her Majesty's Government to recommend the setting up of a Royal Commission forthwith to inquire into the law relating to the legitimate activities of trades unions, with a view to preventing these being abused by unofficial strikes, demarcation disputes and picketing and other customs leading to intimidation and victimisation of workers.]

I have put down an Amendment to that Motion.

[Line 1, leave out from "House" to end and add "urges Her Majesty's Government to recommend the appointment of a Royal Commission to examine trade union law, practice and customs and make recommendations in the public interest.]

Will my right hon. Friend consider giving time for a debate on this subject, not in any party atmosphere, one side or the other, but in the interests of industry as a whole?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. I have noted the Motion to which my hon. Friend refers. At the moment, I cannot give any undertaking, as there are many other subjects which have to be discussed before Christmas, but I will certainly note his request.

Mr. Gaitskell

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the Government would be repared to take, on Thursday, the Service Departments Supply (No. 2) Order with the other Orders relating to the transfer of functions from the former Ministry of Supply to the various Defence Departments, so that we can have a debate on them all together? That would be on another day.

Mr. Butler

I will certainly look into the right hon. Gentleman's request.

Mr. Gaitskell

May I also ask whether the right hon. Gentleman will find time for a debate on the Radcliffe Report, as foreshadowed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his recent speech, and also give a day for a debate on traffic problems in large cities?

Mr. Butler

I can give a positive answer on the first point, the Radcliffe Report. It is our wish to have a debate on this subject before too long and perhaps we can find a convenient day.

I will note, for the purposes of trying to find time, the right hon. Gentleman's request for a debate on the second matter.

Mr. Grimond

Reverting to the question asked by the hon. Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell), may I ask the Home Secretary to find time not only for a debate on the topics he mentioned, but on the suggestions that have been made in this Parliament, for instance, on televising the proceedings of Parliament, on private Members' time and on Questions about the nationalised industries? Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that it would be useful to have a debate on all those matters, and have it fairly soon?

Mr. Butler

I am not quite sure whether we could debate them all on the same day. Questions about the nationalised industries have perplexed us since the industries were nationalised. We might be able to regard the question of televising as one of procedure, but I think that we should divide those subjects to give a chance for hon. Members to express their views.

Mr. Mellish

Apropos of what the Leader of the Liberal Party has said about the nationalised industries, this is a matter of good will on the part of the Government, as I understand it. Whether the Government allow Ministers to accept Questions, whether it be on a day-to-day basis or not, is a matter for the Government to decide. Many of us on this side of the House, as well as hon. Gentlemen opposite, feel that the time has come when Ministers should accept full responsibility in Parliament for these Questions, and now.

Mr. Butler

In this House we have to pay regard to the recent Report of our own Select Committee on the Nationalised Industries. We drew attention to the difficulty of unbridled Questions about the nationalised industries and also to some of the other difficulties, and we indicated the manner in which Questions might conveniently be asked. We must pay attention to the Report of our own Select Committee in deciding procedure on this matter.

Mr. Ridsdale

Would my right hon. Friend agree that one of the best ways of solving the problem of the nationalised industries is to have more debates on them in this House, particularly with reference to road and rail transport?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. It is well known that we have a practice of setting aside certain days for debates on the nationalised industries, and we have that in mind in framing the general programme of Parliamentary work.

Mr. Woodburn

As I gathered from the propaganda during the election that since they have been in office the Conservative Government have been mismanaging the nationalised industries, may we have a White Paper setting all their charges against themselves?

Mr. Butler

I do not think that any Conservative could have used language equivalent to that used by the right hon. Gentleman the member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell), who is not in his place today, when, referring to the introduction of the legislation on nationalised industries, he said that it had not been fully prepared. That is precisely what we feel today in trying to implement those Statutes. As we said in our election manifesto, we are perfectly ready, when the time comes, to indicate how their efficiency could be improved. Meanwhile, we are operating them on the basis of the existing legislation.

Several Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. We really cannot debate the nationalised industries on this business Question. Are there any other questions relating to business?

Mr. Peart

The Leader of the House will remember that the Select Committee on Estimates reported in July this year on atomic energy development. Did the Government take note of the Report and, if so, is it likely that we shall have a debate, or is this good Report to be pigeon-holed?

Mr. Butler

No, Sir, we have taken note of the Report, but I could not give an undertaking today about a definite time for a debate.

Mr. Chetwynd

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the Local Employment Bill affects many hon. Members—those who are afraid that their constituencies will be taken out of the Development Areas and those who are hoping to be put in? If he cannot make a statement about taking the Committee stage on the Floor of the House, so that all those Members who are interested in the matter can have an opportunity of speaking, would he at least consider extending the time for debate on Monday?

Mr. Butler

We have two days and that should be sufficient time for the Second Reading. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I will, however, pay attention to, and give an early decision on, the question of taking the Committee stage on the Floor of the House; but I must consider that in relation to our programme, because that will make some difference. If the Leader of the Opposition and other hon. Members wish it, I will give that point consideration.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we on this side strongly desire the Committee stage of that Bill to be taken on the Floor of the House?

Mr. Ede

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that he has rather overloaded the programme for next Wednesday, seeing that all his powers for dealing with aliens arise virtually from one of the Measures which will be continued in the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, and that it may be desirable on this occasion to have rather a long debate on the continuance of those powers under that emergency legislation?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. I am aware that this simple covering of the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill contains the whole problem of aliens and the legislation which has to be renewed each year. We have had many debates over the years, and, certainly, we are quite prepared to hear observations this time, but let us see how the business goes. We have no wish to hold the House back from expressing its views on this occasion.

Mr. Deedes

Can my right hon. Friend say when the White Paper on horticulture will be available?

Mr. Butler

It is, I believe, out today.

Mr. Kirk

Can my right hon. Friend hold out any prospect of a debate on the refugee problem, particularly as this is World Refugee Year—perhaps not a whole day—some time before Christmas, if possible?

Mr. Butler

I cannot give any undertaking. It might be a day on which Private Members' Motions are taken, but we will certainly look into the matter.

Mr. Nabarro

Does my right hon. Friend recall that last Tuesday he asked hon. Members on both sides of the House to keep him up to the undertaking to have an early debate on the condition of the coal industry and on the National Coal Board's recent publication, "The Revised Plan for Coal"? Can he say when it is proposed to have that debate?

Mr. Butler

I said in my speech the other night that we would probably take this on the same day as we deal with the borrowing powers so as to give an opportunity for a general debate, but we shall need a little consultation to see whether this is satisfactory.