HC Deb 27 April 1961 vol 639 cc631-7
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 (Mr. R. A. Butler)

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

MONDAY, 1ST MAY—Second Reading of the North Atlantic Shipping Bill and Committee Stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

Committee and remaining stages of the Republic of South Africa (Temporary Provisions) Bill.

TUESDAY, 2ND MAY—Committee and remaining stages of the Army and Air Force Bill.

Report and Third Reading of the Local Authorities (Expenditure on Special Purposes) (Scotland) Bill.

Consideration of the Motions relating to the Fatstock (Guarantee Payments); and the Livestock Rearing Land Improvement Grants Orders.

WEDNESDAY, 3RD MAY—Report and Third Reading of the Rating and Valuation Bill.

THURSDAY, 4TH MAY—Second Reading of the Finance Bill.

FRIDAY, 5TH MAY—Consideration of Private Members' Bills.

MONDAY, 8TH MAY—The proposed business will be: Supply [13th Allotted Day]: Committee.

A debate will take place on Apprenticeship and Training for Industry.

Mr. Gaitskell

First, can the Leader of the House confirm that in Monday's debate it will be in order to discuss the general position of the shipping and shipbuilding industries? Secondly, will he arrange for a debate on foreign affairs before the Whitsun Recess—possibly a two-day debate?

Mr. Butler

The first matter referred to by the right hon. Gentleman is more a matter for the Chair than for me, although I would hope that references to the shipping and shipbuilding industries would be in order.

It is our intention, by agreement through the usual channels and on representations from various quarters of the House, to have a debate on foreign affairs before the Whitsun Recess.

Sir G. Nicholson

If my right hon. Friend is contemplating giving the House an opportunity of sending a message to the President of the French Republic, expressing its delight at the better state of affairs in France, will he also urge on the President that, in the British view, mercy is an act of strength, not of weakness?

Mr. Butler

My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary expressed on Monday the general support that Her Majesty's Government give to the stability of the régime in France, and of our friendship for the French people. I do not think that I should enlarge on it today, but I have no doubt that my hon. Friend's observations will be noted.

Mr. Rankin

The Leader of the House has just said that references to shipbuilding will be permissible in the Second Reading debate on the North Atlantic Shipping Bill. How wide will the references be, and how far can they go; and can the right hon. Gentleman assure us that this concession will not interfere with the prospect of a debate on the shipbuilding industry?

Mr. Butler

I said last week that a debate on the shipbuilding industry, as such, is not excluded, but I also said today that I hoped—and I think it natural on the Second Reading of a Bill like this—that references to shipping and shipbuilding might be brought in; but the exact scope of the references must be a matter for the Chair.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is grave disquiet in the country about the Government's attitude to the Cuban situation; and that there is a feeling in the House that this should not be obscured by a vague and rambling debate over two days on foreign affairs, when the issue cannot be directly challenged? Is the right hon. Gentleman not prepared to put down a Motion of confidence on the specific question of Cuba?

Mr. Butler

We must differentiate closely the extent of the responsibilities of Her Majesty's Government in relation to Cuba, and also avoid entrenching on the affairs of other countries, which is not a habit of this House. References to Cuba and, in particular, the United Nations and other places where British responsibility comes in, and to British citizens, and so on, could, I should have thought, be raised in the foreign affairs debate.

Sir M. Galpern

In view of the unprecedented unrest among Scottish teachers and the possibility of a strike of teachers in Glasgow on 8th May, can the Leader of the House find an opportunity for an early discussion next week on the Motion dealing with the critical situation in Scottish education?

[That this House deplores the attitude of the Secretary of State for Scotland towards the grave problems in Education, and in particular strongly protests against his attitude towards the present grievances of Scottish teachers in respect of dilution of the profession and the inadequacy of salaries and his refusal to accept the recommendation of the National Joint Council on the grounds that the Government is not prepared to meet the cost of an 18 per cent. increase in salaries; and urges the Secretary of State to take immediate steps to remove these grievances in the interests of the education of children in Scotland]

Mr. Butler

It may be difficult to find time. I think that we had better see what the results of my right hon. Friend's latest suggestions are.

Mr. Marsh

Referring to the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes), is it not impossible to divorce the American Government's action over Cuba from the welfare of this country and its foreign policy? Is it not therefore essential that the House should have an opportunity, in the interests of Western unity and of the Atlantic Alliance, to discuss this matter, and clearly to state its opinion on this specific issue?

Mr. Butler

I cannot accept the exact situation as quoted by the hon. Member, because I think that it would be most unwise to do so. I think that the question of Cuba could be raised in the foreign affairs debate. I do not see any other very easy occasion for doing so.

Mr. S. Silverman

May I press the right hon. Gentleman a little further on the point about a debate on Cuba? Is he not aware that there is considerable anxiety in the country, and certainly in the House—not always represented by the usual channels—about the urgency of the Cuban question, and the desirability of the House being given an opportunity to express its own view as to whether the Government's action, and proposed action, is right or wrong?

May I direct his attention to a question asked of the Lord Privy Seal yesterday by my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot), who asked: If the right hon. Gentleman and the Government are not prepared to urge an inquiry into how the invasion last week took place, will the right hon. Gentleman say whether Her Majesty's Government are now making representations to the United States Government that the offence should not be repeated? Many hon. Members shouted: "Answer", and the Lord Privy Seal replied: There is no question of making representations to the United States Government on this matter."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 26th April, 1961; Vol. 639, c.413.] While I appreciate that that may be the Government's view and that some people may agree with it, there are a great many people who do not agree with it, and who regard this as a grave emergency, and a grave threat to world peace. Will not the Leader of the House give the House an opportunity of expressing its opinion as to whether or not the Government's pusillanimity is justified?

Mr. Butler

Again, I cannot accept that this is a primary responsibility of Her Majesty's Government. I do accept that it is a grave situation in world politics. I also agree that it could be raised in the foreign affairs debate, and as I do not see any other easy opportunity, subject to any representations that may be made I must adhere to that decision.

Miss Herbison

Further to the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Sir M. Galpern), is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that, according to this morning's Press, the reaction of the Scottish teachers to the suggestions made by the Secretary of State for Scotland is not at all favourable? Is he not also aware that the Motion on the Order Paper deals with the question of dilution, which is perturbing Scottish teachers even more than is the question of salaries? Would he not give consideration to a very early debate so that we might avoid a strike of Scottish teachers, with all the grave harm that might do to education?

Mr. Butler

I have read the references in the Press. I hope that the situation has not reached finality. In view of the seriousness of the situation, all I can do today is to undertake to discuss the subject with my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Gower

Following the many questions asked on the subject, can my right hon. Friend not say even more emphatically that the responsibility for what has happened in Cuba is in no way that of Her Majesty's Government—

Mr. Speaker

Order. We must keep this time for business questions.

Mr. Fernyhough

Referring to the right hon. Gentleman's answer on Cuba, he will be aware that this House rightfully found time to discuss the Hungarian crisis. Is he aware that some of us feel that just as on that occasion we found time to express our remorse and disgust at what had happened in Hungary, so, on this occasion, time should be found for the House to express its opinion on Cuba?

Mr. Butler

We have not yet crystallised the arrangements for the foreign affairs debate, but I think that there will be ample opportunity then for hon. Members to express their opinion.

Mr. Swingler

Whatever form the foreign affairs debate may take, could not the Leader of the House be a little more specific about when it will take place? He only said that it would be some time before Whitsun, but that is more than three weeks ahead, which means that we may have to wait perhaps that long before we have a chance to debate the subject. Can he not say definitely that the debate will take place the week after next?

Mr. Butler

I cannot give a definite date. We only announce business up to the Monday after next. We are trying to find out, because that is the request of the House, how we can fit in a two-day debate. I cannot go further today.

Mr. S. Silverman

As the Leader of the House speaks of the intention of having a two-day debate on foreign affairs, could it not be so arranged that one day is devoted specifically to the Cuban position?

Mr. Butler

The Leader of the House has to pay attention to a general request. I should have thought that if there was a general request one could pay attention to the point put by the hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), but I am not yet satisfied that it would be the general view that a whole day should be devoted to this subject.

Mr. Shinwell

Is it the intention to have such a debate on the Adjournment, or do the Government propose to put down a Motion?

Mr. Butler

I think that it is more likely to be on the Adjournment, but we have not yet reached a decision.

Mr. Warbey

As the Leader of the House seems to be seeking additional evidence of the desire of the House to have a day's debate devoted to Cuba alone, will he note that there are a considerable number of hon. Members who would like that to take place?

Mr. Butler

I think that most of the voices I have heard have come from a particular quarter.