HC Deb 08 December 1960 vol 631 cc1447-53
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 (Mr. R. A. Butler)

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

MONDAY, 12TH DECEMBER—Consideration of private Members' Motions until seven o'clock.

At seven o'clock the following Government business will be considered:

Second Reading of the Patents and Designs (Renewals, Extensions and Fees) Bill [Lords.].

Consideration of the Motions to approve the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Customs Co-operation Council (Immunities and Privileges) Orders, and the Summer Time Order.

TUESDAY, 13TH DECEMBER—A debate will take place on Defence, which will arise on the Motion standing on the Order Paper in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition and other right hon. and hon. Members.

WEDNESDAY, 14TH DECEMBER—Committee stage of the Betting Levy Bill.

Consideration of the Motions to approve the National Insurance (Married Women) (Amendment) Regulations, the National Insurance (Mariners) (Amendment) Regulations, and the Cutlery and Stainless Steel Flatware Industry (Scientific Research Levy) Order.

THURSDAY, 15TH DECEMBER—Supply [2nd Allotted Day]:

Motion to move Mr. Speaker out of the Chair.

A debate will take place on Floods until seven o'clock.

Afterwards, there will be a debate on South-West Africa.

These debates will arise on Opposition Amendments.

FRIDAY, 16TH DECEMBER—Consideration of private Members' Motions.

MONDAY, 19TH DECEMBER—The proposed business will be Supply [3rd Allotted Day]:

Motion to move Mr. Speaker out of the Chair, when a debate will arise on an Amendment to take note of the Second Report from the Public Accounts Committee, 1959–60, until seven o'clock.

Afterwards, there will be a debate on the Fourth Report from the Estimates Committee, 1959–60, relating to the Colonial Office.

This will be the first of the three days to be set apart for the consideration of the Reports from the Public Accounts Committee and the Estimates Committee.

It is hoped that all necessary business will have been disposed of in time for the House to adjourn for the Christmas Recess on Wednesday, 21st December, until Tuesday, 24th January.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is it the Government's intention to follow on Monday the same procedure in private Members' time as they did in the debate on the Press? Will they say that they are opposed to the Motion, but allow it to go through without a Division?

Is it the intention on Wednesday to complete the Committee stage of the Betting Levy Bill, as well as the other business? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a very large number of Amendments proposed to the Betting Levy Bill?

Mr. Butler

In answer to the first part of the right hon. Gentleman's supplementary question, I must reserve the operation of the mystery of the Government's workings until the time comes. On Wednesday, it would be our first desire to obtain the Committee stage of the Betting Levy Bill, and we want to get the business that remains, but we will do it in that order.

Mr. Shinwell

Do the Government propose to put down a Motion on the Order Paper for Tuesday's debate, or are they proposing an Amendment to the Opposition Motion? Or do they intend to accept the Opposition Motion? Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to explain the Government's position?

Mr. Butler

I cannot, in answer to a business question, necessarily decide here and now the nature of any Amendment which we may put down. It is certain, I think, that we shall not accept the Motion.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

In view of the concern felt and expressed by Members on both sides of the House, would my right hon. Friend try to arrange time to discuss a Motion in my name and the names of my hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich (Mr. Robert Jenkins) and others of my hon. Friends, concerning the conduct of Dr. Hastings Banda, a delegate to the Central African Federation Constitutional Review Conference?

[That this House takes note of the fact that a medical team which, after lengthy negotiations, visited Nyasaland under the auspices of the World Health Organisation was recently compelled to withdraw from that country because of political agitation and intimidation by members of the Malawi Congress Party headed by Dr. Banda, himself a medical practitioner; further notes that efforts by the Federal health authorities to prevent an outbreak in Nyasaland of smallpox, of which there have this year been 604 cases, including 40 deaths, by means of a widespread vaccination campaign were undermined by political intimidation and misrepresentation by members of the Malawi Congress Party, who spread propaganda alleging that sterilisation resulted from vaccination, and that Dr. Banda refused to denounce these activities on the ground that he could not, for political reasons, co-operate with the authorities in health matters; and calls upon Her Majesty's Government, at the forthcoming Federal review conference, to refuse to enter into negotiations with Dr. Banda unless he is prepared to co-operate in safeguarding the health of all Africans in Nyasaland and denounces all activities to the contrary.]

Mr. Butler

I cannot guarantee any time. The most that I can undertake to do is to consider that request with my right hon. Friends principally concerned.

Mr. Driberg

Would the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to explain why he bothers to go on finding time for Private Members' Motions, since in his view, Parliament on such occasions is reduced to the level of a school debating society?

Mr. Butler

I continue to pander to the desires of private Members because I find that they like it. I find that the House enjoys the time that it has for such Motions. Friday's debate was a particularly useful debate which, I think, will have its benefits. Just because the Government are unable to accept the conclusion, I do not see why we should find it a waste of time.

Mr. Wyatt

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it the case that this House has no power whatever to give instructions to Ministers?

Mr. Speaker

That is not a point of order.

Mr. Warbey

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Surely it is one of the functions of Mr. Speaker to protect the rights of the House against the Executive. This is a clear clash between Members of the House of Commons and the Executive, in which the Executive are refusing to take note of a decision reached by this House. This is a matter—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I say with respect to the hon. Gentleman that he should not make a speech about it. I do everything I conceive to be proper to protect the rights of minorities in the House—[HON. MEMBERS: "This was a majority."]—and of the majority, assuming that it is a majority, in this case an unopposed majority. My responsibilities in the matter are concluded when the House reaches its decision.

Mr. Mayhew

If there is to be a Government Whip in the debate in private Members' time on Monday, will Government supporters also be informed that it makes no difference whether they vote or not?

Mr. Butler

The answer is, "No, Sir."

Dame Irene Ward

In view of the fact that my right hon. Friend has just announced the charming decision that he panders to private Members, has he seen on the Order Paper the two Motions, connected with railway super-annuitants and unestablished civil servants, to which my name is attached? When will he pander to my wishes by giving time to debate them?

[That this House, being of opinion that exceptional hardship has resulted to British Railways Superannuitants, many of whom are not in receipt of National Insurance benefits, in a period of declining money values, calls upon Her Majesty's Government to bring forward proposals for the alleviation of this hardship.]

[That this House has taken note of the Report of the Royal Commission on the Civil Service, 1955 (Command Paper No. 9613), and the observations of the Commission in Chapter XV, paragraph 743, on the subject of the reckoning of unestablished service for superannuation purposes in the Civil Service, to the effect that there is no question of merit or principle outstanding, that it is in fact now common ground that it is right that unestablished service should reckon in full, and that in the view of the Royal Commission the sole consideration is that of cost; and this House is of opinion that the time has come for Her Majesty's Government to authorise discussions to take place on the Civil Service National Whitley Council with a view to arriving at a reasonable settlement of this long standing problem.]

Mr. Butler

I hope that I shall not have to alienate my hon. Friend so far that she again takes my seat.

Mr. T. Fraser

Will the right hon. Gentleman find time at an early date to debate the Report on the Scottish Licensing Law, which is of topical interest? Scottish Members are feeling a little neglected.

Mr. Butler

I realise that that Report has been published and I will take note of what the hon. Gentleman has said.

Mrs. White

Will the right hon. Gentleman, as Leader of the House, draw the attention of the suitable authorities to the fact that the season tickets issued to hon. Members, owing to some parsimonious policy, expire on 16th December, although the Christmas Recess does not begin until some days later?

Mr. Butler

As Leader of the House I will, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, make some inquiries on that matter.

Mr. Stonehouse

In considering the request of the hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison), will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the importance, if he allows a debate, of widening it so that the conduct of Sir Edgar Whitehead may also be considered with that of Dr. Banda, and so that the House may consider the responsibilities of this Parliament in relation to the Vagrancy Act in Southern Rhodesia, which has been universally condemned here?

Mr. S. Silverman

May I once again draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman, in his capacity as Home Secretary, to the Motion standing on the Order Paper which challenges the correctness of his decision in two recent capital cases, and which has the support of more than 80 hon. Members? May I ask whether he is now prepared to provide some time—it need not be very long—for the House to discuss that matter? Will he bear in mind—and I say this with all respect—that this is a challenge to his personal decision in a matter in which he acts for us and for which he is responsible to the House?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. I am fully aware of the position, of the gravity of the decisions taken and of the seriousness of the issue. I have, however, great difficulty in finding time. All I can do today is to note the hon. Gentleman's request.

Mr. C. Osborne

On the point just raised by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), would my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the vast majority of the people in the country sympathise very deeply with him in the personal decisions he has to take, and that the vast majority of the people would like to see a good more justice mixed with mercy, and feel that cold-blooded murderers ought to be hanged?

Mr. Reynolds

Having questioned the right hon. Gentleman about the Order Paper in previous Sessions, may I thank him and the Clerk and the Officers of the House for the great improvement in the Order Paper? Having got used to the old one, I found it difficult to get used to the new one, but after a few weeks I have found it a great improvement.

Mr. Butler

We should also express our gratitude to the Select Committee on Procedure, which considered this and on whose Report we have acted.

Mr. S. Silverman


Mr. Speaker

I see that the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) is rising in his place. I do not want him to go on to a subject of policy. If he has a question on business, I will be glad to hear it.

Mr. Silverman

I wanted to ask the Leader of the House whether he will reconsider the question of the Motion relating to the death penalty with a view to finding a short time to discuss it before the Recess. This is a personal Motion of censure and the right hon. Gentleman ought not to be willing to leave it on the Order Paper without giving the House of Commons an opportunity to consider it.

Mr. Speaker

I thought that the hon. Member had something new to ask. That question has been answered.