HC Deb 10 November 1960 vol 629 cc1221-6
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, 14TH NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Land Drainage Bill, and Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

TUESDAY, 15TH NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the National Insurance Bill, and Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

WEDNESDAY, 16TH NOVEMBER—Committee and remaining stages of the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill.

Consideration of Motions to approve the Judicial Offices (Salaries) Order and the Census of Distribution Order.

THURSDAY, 17TH NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Criminal Justice Bill, and Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

FRIDAY, 18TH NOVEMBER—Committee and remaining stages of the British North America Bill and the Indus Basin Development Fund Bill.

Second Reading of the Ministers of the Crown (Parliamentary Secretaries) Bill, and Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

MONDAY, 21ST NOVEMBER—The proposed business will be the Second Reading of the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, and Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution, and the Committee and remaining stages of the Administration of Justice (Judges and Pensions) Bill.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is it the intention of the Government to take the Committee stage of the National Insurance Bill on the Floor of the House? Also, will the right hon. Gentleman ensure that enough time is available for the House to debate the National Assistance Regulations?

Mr. Butler

The answer to both those questions is in the affirmative. It is proposed to take that Bill on the Floor of the House, and, also, that there shall be time for the latter exercise.

Sir T. Moore

When we discuss the Criminal Justice Bill, will it be possible for the recommendations of the Advisory Council on the Treatment of Offenders, especially in regard to corporal punishment, to be incorporated in the debate, or at some stage of our discussions on the Bill?

Mr. Butler

I have been informed by the chairman of the Council, Mr. Justice Barry, that it is proposed to publish the Report on 14th November. That is the hope. That would be before the Second Reading debate, so that it could be considered by hon. Members before the debate.

The question of our consideration of the Report is a matter for you, Mr. Speaker. The Bill deals with the treatment of young offenders, and I would presume that general questions are in order in a Second Reading debate. But it is a matter for your discretion, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is the Leader of the House aware that there is a growing feeling of resentment in Scotland against the Government's action with regard to the Polaris base? Does not he think that it would be a good thing for the Government to ask the House to approve of the agreement which the Prime Minister has signed?

Mr. Butler

The Prime Minister has recently given full answers on this subject, and I cannot carry the matter any further today.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that Part I of the Land Drainage Bill will impose rates upon those who, up to now, have never paid them? In those circumstances, will he consider bringing the Committee stage on Part I to the Floor of the House.

Mr. Butler

The answer must be in the negative. We must take this Bill upstairs. But the Report stage will be on the Floor of the House.

Mr. S. Silverman

In relation to the treatment of young offenders, does the right hon. Gentleman, in his capacity as Home Secretary, propose to take any opportunity next week to explain to the House his reasons for not recommending a reprieve for the two young offenders hanged this morning, so as to give the House an opportunity of expressing its view as to whether he acted rightly or wrongly?

Mr. Butler

The House is always at liberty to say what it likes, but my answer to the hon. Member must be in the negative, in accordance with tradition, as carried out by my predecessors.

Mr. Cooper

Does my right hon. Friend propose to have a debate before Christmas on the proposals for the Greater London area?

Mr. Butler

We shall have to see. I will make a note of my hon. Friend's suggestion.

Mr. Lipton

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen the Motion on the Order Paper, signed by a large number of his hon. Friends, relating to National Health Services charges for drugs? Will he give an assurance that he will treat this Motion with the same skill and expertise that he showed in dealing with a similar Motion last Session?

[That this House is of the opinion that private patients should be enabled to obtain their medicines and drugs on the same terms and conditions as National Health Service patients; and urges Her Majesty's Government to introduce the necessary legislation without further delay.]

Mr. Butler

I have studied the Motion and it is, naturally, under consideration by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Health.

Mr. S. Silverman

With regard to the question I asked the right hon. Gentleman just now, and his reply about the practice of his predecessors, will be hear in mind that while it has now been established that it is impossible to raise these matters in Parliament before an execution takes place, or before the right hon. Gentleman has made up his mind on what advice to tender to Her Majesty, it is perfectly in order to do so afterwards and that the Minister remains responsible to this House, even after the event, for the advice he has tendered? Is he aware that it is not really a proper discharge of his functions to refuse to render any account whatever of the mercy which he administers not on his own behalf, but on behalf of ourselves and the whole nation?

Mr. Butler

Everybody must be aware of the very serious burden which is laid on the Home Secretary on these occasions. If the hon. Member had listened to my reply, he would have heard that I said in the opening part of it that the House is at liberty to take what action it likes in respect of a Minister's responsibility, and that remains the constitutional position.

Mr. Wigg

On the question raised by my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) about the question of the Polaris base in Scotland, would the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to give the House an assurance that no further negotiations are being undertaken by the Government with a view to the establishment of other bases? Would he also be good enough to assure the House that no final conclusions will be reached without first coming to this House and telling us what they are?

Mr. Butler

I think that we can only take this very important and vital matter by stages. The Prime Minister has given the House the up-to-date information on this important subject and I can undertake that he will continue to keep the House informed of any further developments. But I should not like it to be thought there are any particular further developments simply because this question has been asked. My undertaking relates to the growing and developing nature of the scheme.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Does the Leader of the House realise that there are a number of grave questions outstanding with regard to the Polaris base on which this House should have an opportunity of expressing its opinions, notably questions of control and questions of that kind? Will not the right hon. Gentleman take the opportunity to allow the House to debate that subject at an early date?

Mr. Butler

We are only at the beginning of the Session and I cannot carry the matter any further today. Of course, it is a matter which not only the Opposition but also private Members and everybody would wish to follow.

Mr. Llywelyn Williams

In view of the importance of the debate next Tuesday on the National Insurance Bill, and the fact that a number of hon. Members will wish to take part, will the Leader of the House extend the period of the debate for one hour?

Mr. Butler

So far, I have had no requests for that, and as the Committee stage will be taken on the Floor of the House, as will the further stages of the Bill, there should be plenty of opportunity for hon. Members to speak. Of course, it is my duty to take note of any representation such as has been made by the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Since the Lord Privy Seal properly said in reply to a Written Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Robert Cooke) that Parliamentary sanction would be sought for the payment of certain moneys from this country towards the efforts of the United Nations in the Congo, can my right hon. Friend say when this sanction will be sought?

Mr. Butler

I will make a point of investigating my hon. Friend's request and keep him informed.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Will the Leader of the House consider providing time for a debate on the closing of newspapers and the shrinking of the access to news?

Mr. Butler

There may be a chance on a private Members' day before Christmas.

Mr. Bowles

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he recalls that I asked a question last week on my Motion of Privilege? He may remember that I mentioned that 150 hon. Members had been invited to the Federation of Central Africa. That has never been denied. But I notice that in no national newspaper which I have looked at has that statement been reported.

May I ask whether he has any idea—there are rumours circulating—of the possibility that advertising agents have some control over the national Press—[Laughter.] Well, it is certainly very significant.

May I ask Whether he has read the article by Pendennis in the Observer of 18th September on the same subject and whether he will now kindly say that he can give me an early day for a debate on my Motion?

[That so much of the article in Reynolds News, dated 23rd October, 1960, complained of by the honourable Member for Nuneaton on 25th October, 1960, be referred to the Committee of Privileges.]

Mr. Butler

I cannot undertake to give an early day for the hon. Gentleman's Motion. I am endeavouring to follow up the information he has given me to find out whether it is correct, and when I have got a little further perhaps we can confer on the matter.