HC Deb 21 July 1960 vol 627 cc726-32
Mr. Gaitskell

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will state 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, 25TH JULY—Second Reading of the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill, which it is proposed to take formally.

A debate will take place on European Trade, on a Government Motion.

It may be necessary to proceed with other business, including the Motion to approve the Post Office (Submarine Cable System) Agreement.

TUESDAY, 26TH JULY—Committee and remaining stages of the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill.

A debate will take place on Disarmament, which it is thought may last for half a day, and be followed by any subjects which hon. Members may wish to raise.

The House may, however, be aware that the Chairman of Ways and Means has set down the Manchester Ship Canal Bill for consideration at seven o'clock. It is hoped that this Bill will not occupy an undue amount of time.

WEDNESDAY, 27TH JULYx—Consideration of Lords Amendments to the following Bills:

Betting and Gaming Bill.

Caravan Sites and Control of Development Bill.

Mental Health (Scotland) Bill.

Road Traffic and Roads Improvement Bill.

THURSDAY, 28TH JULY—Consideration of any further Lords Amendments to Bills.

Afterwards, a debate will take place on Road Traffic Problems, which will take place on an Opposition Motion.

If all outstanding business has been disposed of, it is hoped to adjourn for the Summer Recess on Friday, 29th July.

Our arrangements must depend upon progress of business and I shall hope to be in a position to make a further statement at the beginning of next week and announce the proposed date of our return after the Recess.

In regard to business tonight, I think that it would be more generally convenient to the House if we deferred consideration of the Lords Amendments to the Professions Supplementary to Medicine Bill.

We shall proceed with the Lords Amendments to the Clean Rivers (Estuaries and Tidal Waters) Bill, and then resume the Charities Bill [Lords], which was not completed last Friday.

Mr. Gaitskell

When do the Government expect to be able to make a statement about the discussions on the control of American bases in this country? Will this be made before the Recess? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we should welcome a further statement before the Recess on the situation in the Congo as it develops and on the repercussions which there may be on adjoining territories, particularly the territories of the Central African Federation?

Mr. Butler

That raises very big questions. If I may, I will discuss them with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and my colleagues principally concerned, and then communicate with the right hon. Gentleman.

Viscount Hinchingbrooke

Will my right hon. Friend say whether his promised statement on procedural changes next Session in connection with the review and control of Government expenditure will be made in such a way that it can be debated on the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill?

Mr. Butler

I hope to make this statement on the best method of giving Parliament additional opportunity of controlling expenditure—that is, for next Session—on Tuesday on the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill. We hope that there will be opportunities for hon. Members to speak on that occasion. I do not see why they will not be able to join in the debate and discuss the matter if they want to do so.

Mr. Gaitskell

Will the right hon. Gentleman clarify his last statement—that he will make a statement on the Consolidation Fund (Appropriation) Bill? Does he mean during the course of debate, or after Questions?

Mr. Butler

I was inaccurate in my statement. I meant that I would make a statement before we reached the Bill.

Mr. Ellis Smith

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he was consulted about next week's business? The reason I put it that way is this: no one understands the procedure, the Parliamentary practice and the historic rights of private Members better than does the Leader of the House and yet he has agreed to these three big issues being debated on these days when more of this time, in accordance with the historic rights of private Members, should have been accorded to private Members.

Secondly, can the Leader of the House quote me a precedent for a Private Bill occupying time during a day allotted for a debate on the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill? Is this constitutionally correct? Should not the maximum amount of time be allowed to private Members so that they can raise serious issues affecting their constituents, in view of the fact that so much time has been occupied on other matters during the past nine months?

Mr. Butler

I was fully aware of what I was to say before I rose to announce business. I have no power over the discretion of the Chairman of Ways and Means; the matter lies within his discretion, and on that there was no previous consultation between him and me. The Chairman of Ways and Means has chosen to set down the Manchester Ship Canal Bill, which has passed through another place, for Tuesday next. As far as I can, I have consulted those who understand the procedure of the House, and there is nothing out of order in his so doing.

The only comment I would make to private Members, who have a legitimate point of view on this, is that the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill is exempted business, and that as we hope that the Manchester Ship Canal Bill will take only a very short time, there is no reason why any private Member should be inhibited by the regrettable fact that the Private Bill is taking up part of the time. I hope that that will to some extent meet the hon. Member's fears on this point.

The hon. Member asked about other issues. The question of a debate on disarmament was suggested by and discussed with the Opposition. I think that there has to be an opportunity for matters to be raised on the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill, but we must also accept that there must be consultation with the Opposition as well as consideration of private Members' rights.

Mr. S. Silverman

On a point of order. In announcing the business for next week the right hon. Gentleman said that the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill would be taken formally. I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, as a matter of order, that that is not for the Leader of the House to say. Is not the position this' The Motion will be moved in the ordinary way, and then it is for the House to say how long it wishes to discuss the Motion, and not for the Government or the Opposition to say that the vote will be taken at an early stage, or that it will be taken formally.

Mr. Speaker

What the Leader of the House does—by custom it seems to be done like that—is to express his hopes, but the expression of the hope does not stop the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) or any other hon. Member from being able to raise another topic.

Mr. Wigg

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the House why he always treats as a secret the day on which the Government propose to put down the Motion for the Adjournment for the Recess? It is an historic right of the House that on the Motion hon. Members can raise any subject that they may care to argue, if it is in order. I cannot understand why, on occasion after occasion, the right hon. Gentleman keeps this to himself. Will he tell the House when we shall have an opportunity to ventilate a number of points? My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ellis Smith) may be interested in this.

Will the right hon. Gentleman also say why he has put down the Betting and Gaming Bill, which is regarded as non-controversial by this side of the House, as the first Order on Wednesday? It would have met the convenience of the House, particularly Scottish Members, if that Measure had been put down as the last Order, and not the first.

Mr. Butler

We have put down the Betting and Gaming Bill as the first Order because it is a major Bill of the Session, and we want to get it through so that it can become law. I am sure that the hon. Gentleman agrees with us in that.

I do not think that there is any mystery or secrecy about the Motion for the Adjournment. We shall probably put it down for either Tuesday or Wednesday. My experience is that it does not require very much notice for hon. Members to take advantage of the Motion. Therefore, I have not gone out of my way to give too much notice.

Mr. Wigg

Surely the House has a right to be told. There is no difficulty about this. If we know that it is coming on Tuesday, we can adjust ourselves. The Government and the Opposition can do the same. Rather than keeping this information up his sleeve until the last moment, hoping against hope—I assure the right hon. Gentleman that it is hoping against hope—it would be far better to tell the House now what he intends to do.

Mr. Butler

The reason we delay until the end of July is that there is a great deal of business to get through. It is not absolutely certain at what hour we shall move it. I will certainly pay attention to his request, because there is no need for secrecy.

Mr. Healey

Is the Leader of the House aware that right hon. and hon. Members on both sides will be seriously handicapped in the debate on disarmament by the fact that there are no records available of the later stages of the proceedings of the Committee of Ten Nations on Disarmament? Is he aware that the records at present in the House of Commons Library stop two months short of the critical week? Will he, therefore, either contrive to obtain full records of the rest of the proceedings by the beginning of next week, or consider the possibility of publishing a short White Paper covering the breakdown period itself?

Mr. Butler

I will certainly discuss the point with my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary.

Mr. Short

On a point of order. As the Leader of the House has announced no time for debating the Second Reading of the Public Service Vehicles (Travel Concessions) Act, 1955 (Amendment) Bill, I give notice that I shall pursue both him and the Government until they do something about it.

Mr. Donnelly

On what day do the Government propose to make a statement about whether they are to enter on a space research programme?

Mr. Butler

I cannot make a final statement on that in answer to business questions.

Mr. Jeger

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the anxiety in the fishing industry about the fact that on 12th August. which is now very near, the three-months' fishing truce will have expired and there may then start a number of incidents within the self-imposed 12-mile limit? Will we have an announcement during next week on the progress of the negotiations which are going on?

Mr. Butler

I shall have to discuss this with my colleague principally concerned.

Sir L. Plummer

Will the right hon. Gentleman inform the House when it may expect the Report of the Committee of Privileges on the complaint raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. C. Pannell), and whether he will give time for a debate on the Report before the Recess?

Mr. Butler

We must decide about a debate when we see the Report. We have already had two meetings and I am hopeful that we shall conclude our work before the Recess. Publication will depend upon the possibility of printing, because the notice was very short indeed. However, we have had two meetings and are making considerable progress.

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