HC Deb 07 December 1961 vol 650 cc1538-43
Mr. Gaitskell

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will state the business of the House for next week?

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. Iain Macleod)

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

MONDAY, 11TH DECEMBER—Consideration of private Members' Motions until seven o'clock.

Afterwards, consideration of the Motions on the Highlands and Islands Shipping Services and on Summer Time.

TUESDAY, 12TH DECEMBER—Further consideration of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill.

WEDNESDAY, 13TH DECEMBER—Completion of the Committee stage of the Army Reserve Bill, which it is hoped to obtain by seven o'clock.

Report and Third Reading of the Family Allowances and National Insurance Bill.

Consideration of the Motions on the Electricity (Borrowing Powers) and the South of Scotland Electricity Board Orders.

THURSDAY, 14TH DECEMBER—A debate on Foreign Affairs on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Consideration of the Motions on the Anti-Dumping Duty, and the Hops (Import Regulation) Orders.

FRIDAY, 15TH DECEMBER—Consideration of private Members' Motions.

MONDAY, 18TH 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 Opposition Amendment relating to Government Policy on Incomes and Productivity.

Consideration of the Motions on the White Fish Subsidy (United Kingdom) (Amendment) Scheme, and the White Fish and Herring (Aggregate Amount of Grants) (No. 2) Order.

The House will wish to know that, subject to the progress of business, it is intended to propose that we should rise for the Christmas Adjournment on Thursday, 21st December, until Tuesday, 23rd January.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is the Leader of the House aware that, in our opinion, it is wholly unrealistic to suppose that the Committee stage of the Army Reserve Bill will be completed by seven o'clock on Wednesday? If, as I understand, the Report and Third Reading of the Family Allowances and National Insurance Bill is a rather urgent matter, would it not be wiser to put it as the first Order and to put the Committee stage of the Army Reserve Bill second, when we can, no doubt, make progress with it during the day?

Secondly, may I ask a question concerning Thursday's business? The debate is to be on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House. I presume, therefore, that it can range widely, but I should like to know whether it is the Government's view that it should be confined in any way. For the convenience of the House, will the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the debate will cover not only Katanga and the Congo question, to which the Prime Minister referred a little earlier, but also Berlin and the forthcoming meeting between the Prime Minister and President Kennedy?

Mr. Macleod

I will look again at Wednesday's business, although I feel that the order which I have announced is the most suitable one.

We have tried to meet the convenience of the House by arranging a debate on foreign affairs, which the House generally seems to want, and the Opposition, for their Supply day, are putting down the other main subject on which I have been asked questions when making previous business statements.

Although, naturally, it is for the Chair to rule on the matter, certainly Thursday's debate would cover all the matters that have been in the headlines recently in relation to the Congo and Katanga and Government spokesmen will deal fully with those points.

Mr. Lipton

Does the right hon. Gentleman propose to conclude the Committee stage of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill next Tuesday?

Mr. Macleod

On the whole, I think probably not.

Mr. Warbey

Is the Leader of the House saying that on Thursday, in addition to considering the Government's record in regard to the Congo, we shall be expected also to discuss such urgent matters as Berlin, disarmament, and all the rest of international affairs? Surely, we should have a separate day on Katanga and another on international affairs generally.

Mr. Macleod

It is not a question of right hon. and hon. Members being expected to discuss any particular problem. The debate will be on foreign affairs, on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House. What I said was that there would be Government statements on matters in relation to the Congo and Katanga, which were particularly referred to by the Leader of the Opposition. I take it, however, that, subject to the ruling of the Chair, any matter concerning foreign affairs would be in order.

Mr. Hector Hughes

May I ask a question about the business for Monday week? I know that the Leader of the House is conforming to the modern tradition of putting Motions on fish Orders last, so that they begin probably late at night, as usually happens. Will he kindly allocate the business for that day in such a way that those Motions will not come on late at night and there will be adequate opportunity for proper debate on them?

Mr. Macleod

This is not the Bill. These are Motions on the White Fish Subsidy Scheme and the White Fish and Herring Subsidy Order and I think that it is for the convenience of the House that these should follow the major subject for the day which is the Opposition's choice. There will be an Opposition Amendment relating to Government policy on incomes and productivity.

Mr. Rankin

Does the right hon. Gentleman recollect that he promised me last Thursday a debate on the Toothill Report. [Laughter.] English Members should know that the "h" is often silent. [An HON. MEMBER: "More silent than the hon. Member."] Since then, has the right hon. Gentleman noticed that the Parliamentary Secretary for Science, this week, has stated that the development of scientific research in Scotland depends to some extent on the consideration that is to be given to the Toothill Report? Does he not agree that indicates that there should be a very early debate on the Report?

Mr. Macleod

I think that the hon. Member knows, as I am sure that he has looked up HANSARD, that all I said in reply to him last week was: Certainly not before Christmas. I will bear in mind the possibility of a later day."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 30th November, 1961; Vol. 650, c. 631.]

Mr. V. Yates

Will the Leader of the House consider the growing sense of frustration that many hon. Members on the back benches on both sides of the House feel at the continual lack of opportunity to speak in the House on matters of major importance, like the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, when one day is allowed for Second Reading on a matter which is vital to everybody and for which, when one takes out the speeches made by Privy Councillors on both sides of the House, there is very little time left?

Does the right hon. Gentleman consider that a debate next Thursday ranging over the whole of foreign affairs in one day is entirely satisfactory and Gives hon. Members on the back benches an adequate opportunity to voice their opinions? If we cannot have adequate time to take part in major discussions in the House, outside Committee—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]. I have been in the House sixteen years—[An HON. MEMBER: "Too long."]—and it is about time—[An HON. MEMBER: "The hon. Member left."]—that the back benchers—

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member has been here long enough to know that we cannot have speeches during the time devoted to questions about the business of the House.

Mr. Yates

If hon. Members will permit me to put adequately the view of hon. Members on this side of the House, and, I think, of many hon. Members opposite, who—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Whatever hon. Members do, I am giving the hon. Gentleman an opportunity to ask a question, instead of making a speech.

Mr. Yates

Then I ask the Leader of the House whether, in view of this sense of frustration, he will consider allocating more time to foreign affairs and the other vital matters which are under consideration by the Government at the present time?

Mr. Macleod

There has been considerable pressure recently when the business statement is made on a Thursday for a debate on foreign affairs. I had hoped that we should be able to arrange it before Christmas and that has proved possible in Government time. I am sure that that meets the wishes of the House. The hon. Member knows very well that the selection of speakers is not a matter for me.

Mr. Hale

As it appears from the present state of the Order Paper that the debate on Tuesday will open with a discussion of the Irish question, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether a formal statement will be made before Tuesday about the continued reading of English and Irish newspapers by the Home Secretary and whether that has produced anything approaching clarity of mind or some measure of certitude about the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill?

Mr. Macleod

The first Amendment which we shall be discussing on Tuesday is the one on which all these matters arise and I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will reply to it with his customary clarity.

Mrs. Castle

When does the right hon. Gentleman propose to reconstitute Mr. Speaker's Committee on Accommodation in view of the widespread support for the work of that Committee from both sides of the House?

Mr. Macleod

There are, as the hon. Lady knows, differing views on this matter. I have no present plans for bringing any such proposal before the House.

Mr. S. Silverman

On another point, could the right hon. Gentleman tell the House whether he has in mind in the near future to offer an opportunity to the House to discuss Civil Defence? Will he bear in mind that there has been no debate on Civil Defence in the House since 1955 and that the whole picture of Civil Defence has been changed by the Defence White Paper of 1957?

Will the right hon. Gentleman also bear in mind that the opportunity that might have appeared on a Private Member's Motion the other Friday to afford such a discussion was not available because the first Motion took the whole of the time? Does the right hon. Gentleman not think that it is time the House had an opportunity of discussing this very important matter and that it has been delayed too long?

Mr. Macleod

I agree that it is an important matter, but the hon. Member will realise from the business I have mentioned that there is not likely to be an opportunity before Christmas

Mrs. Castle

Further to my previous question, may I ask whether the Leader of the House is aware that the Committee on Accommodation, which is an all-party Committee, has proceeded with great harmony and unanimity in producing its Report? Can he tell the House, therefore, where the differing views to which he refers come from and whether they are not confined to the Government Front Bench?

Mr. Macleod

I will make further inquiries into this matter, but, certainly, differing views have been expressed to me on it.

Mr. Gaitskell

Would the Leader of the House appreciate that most of us, and, I think, all of us on this side of the House, regard the work of that Committee as of great value and that we should regret it if it were not continued? Is the right hon. Gentleman further aware that this is a matter which should be, and I hope will be, discussed through the usual channels, to try to reach agreement?

Mr. Macleod

Yes, Sir. We will gladly discuss this through the usual channels.