HC Deb 14 December 1961 vol 651 cc627-33
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, 18TH DECEMBER—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) Scheme, and the White Fish and Herring Subsidies (No. 2) Order.

TUESDAY, 19TH DECEMBER—Further consideration in Committee on the Army Reserve Bill.

WEDNESDAY, 20TH DECEMBER—Debate on Foreign Affairs, with particular reference to Berlin, on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House.

THURSDAY, 21ST DECEMBER—It is proposed that the House should meet at 11 a.m., that Questions be taken until noon, and that the House should adjourn at 5 p.m., until Tuesday, 23rd January.

Mr. Gaitskell

The Leader of the House will recall that he promised a short time ago that we should have a debate on the Report on Local Government in Greater London early in the new year. Can he say whether that will be very soon after we return from the Christmas Recess? Has he any particular date in mind?

Mr. Macleod

No, Sir. I have no particular date in mind. Maps are being published in a day or two which will illustrate the precise possibilities and a great number of discussions will no doubt take place. I shall be glad to consult through the usual channels, but I should have thought that it would suit the convenience of all those concerned if we had a little more time to consider the matter.

Mr. Hirst

Has the attention of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House been drawn to a Motion in my name and the names of several hon. Members asking for a debate on the Egypt (Compensation Agreement)?

[That this House views with the utmost concern the hesitant steps with which Her Majesty's Government endeavour to satisfy claimants for their approved claims, both for Egyptianised property and those arising as a result of desequestration: takes into consideration the fact that after three interim Distribution Orders have been laid before the House, only about one-third of the Compensation Fund has been paid out to its rightful owners; records the dismal fact that large claimants as a result of these Orders still have 75 per cent. of their approved claims outstanding; reminds Her Majesty's Government that in addition to the large balances of the Compensation Fund so held, the Prime Minister assured the House on 16th March, 1959, in reference to the Fund of £27½ million made available under the Financial Agreement with the United Arab Republic (Cmnd. 639), that Her Majesty's Government did not exclude a further contribution from public funds: and calls upon Her Majesty's Government to recognise and respect the rights of approved claimants to a fairer and more speedy repayment of their claims and to act accordingly.] Could he find time for discussion of that subject? If that cannot be done next week, will my right hon. Friend have discussions with his right hon. Friends, for there is grave disquiet over the tedious way in which this matter is being carried out?

Mr. Macleod

There will not be an opportunity next week. There has been an Adjournment debate on this matter and there was also a statement by the Lord Privy Seal, but I shall draw the attention of my right hon. Friend to what my hon. Friend the Member for Shipley (Mr. Hirst) has said.

Mr. Hector Hughes

May I ask a question about the business for Monday? It will be within the recollection of the right hon. Gentleman that last Thursday I asked him to depart from the shocking practice of always putting the fish course last. Has he considered whether he will provide us with a proper opportunity for a debate on fishing matters instead of bringing them on always at the dead of night?

Mr. Macleod

Monday will be an Opposition day. We are first to discuss incomes and then these Motions. In other words, we are to discuss chips before fish.

Mr. Popplewell

If he cannot provide time next week, will the Leader of the House say when he hopes to provide time to debate a Motion in the names of my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central (Mr. Short), my hon. Friend the Member for Durham (Mr. Grey) and other hon. Members on this side from the North-East, including myself, on the question of establishing a Grand Committee to discuss affairs of the North-East in view of the fact that the North-East has the highest unemployment and most serious depopulation problem in England?

[That this House urges Her Majesty's Government to take the necessary steps to establish a Grand Committee for the North, on similar lines to the Welsh Grand Committee, so that the many social and economic problems peculiar to the four northern counties of England may be adequately discussed.]

Mr. Macleod

I have seen that Motion with some interest, but I should need a great deal of convincing that the House would think it wise to balkanise, as it were, our affairs further.

Mr. S. Silverman

With reference to the foreign affairs debate on Wednesday, would the right hon. Gentleman consider this? Having regard to the extreme uncertainty and confusion and ambiguity as to what is Her Majesty's Government's policy with regard to the Berlin issue vis-à-vis our N.A.T.O. allies or the Soviet Union, would it not be very much better, instead of debating the matter at large on a Motion for the Adjournment of the House, for the Government to table a Motion and thus give the House an opportunity of deciding upon it? Then, when the Prime Minister goes to Paris to discuss these matters, he will be armed with the considered and specific judgment of the House of Commons.

Mr. Macleod

The difficulty, as the hon. Member knows very well, is that that would narrow the scope of the debate. That is happening to today's debate as a result of a Government Motion being put down. I should have thought, in view of that, that it is right for next week's debate to take place on as wide as possible a front, on the Motion for the Adjournment.

Mr. D. Smith

Has my right hon. Friend seen a Motion in my name, supported by about 50 hon. Members, on the question of Thames pollution?

[That this House takes note of the report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Pollution of the Tidal Thames, supports its view that there should be express statutory power for the Port of London Authority to impose conditions relating to discharges of effluent and urges a determined effort on the part of Her Majesty's Government to improve the general condition of the Thames for the good health and convenience of those who live or work beside it.]

If so, will my right hon. Friend consider providing time for a short debate on that when we resume after the Christmas Recess?

Mr. Macleod

I shall look into that, but it concerns a very recent Report. There is no immediate prospect of a debate on it.

Mr. Hoy

Is the Leader of the House aware that the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food told us this afternoon about a proposal which will involve the taxpayer in finding an extra £80 million, but that when he made that statement there was no Scottish Minister present? Will the right hon. Gentleman arrange for a very early debate in which we can discuss this problem?

Mr. Macleod

That does not arise on next week's business.

Mr. Fletcher

As there is no mention of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill in the business for next week, may we take it that the Government have now decided to abandon it?

Mr. Macleod

No, Sir.

Mr. Mellish

May I ask again about Northern Ireland, where there is 8.9 per cent. unemployment and the position has been that way for a long time? When are we to discuss it? Will the right hon. Gentleman take note that there is a study group which is to report, but that none of us will be allowed to see that report? What sort of Parliament is it that will not discuss this part of the United Kingdom? Will the right hon. Gentleman give us an opportunity for a debate soon?

Mr. Macleod

The hon. Member keeps speaking from different places in the House, and complained last week that he keeps getting the same answer.

Mr. Stratton Mills

With reference to the question about Northern Ireland, will my right hon. Friend consider having a debate on the affairs of Bermondsey as, obviously, they are being neglected?

Mr. Mellish

On a point of order—I hope that this is a point of order—may I say that I should be very willing to take part in such a debate.

Mr. Speaker

I hope the hon. Member will learn what is a point of order before he does so.

Mr. C. Pannell

As a matter which will not take up much Parliamentary time, will the Leader of the House consider, after Christmas, again setting up the Accommodation Committee? It was rather badly treated over its last Report, bearing in mind that after Mr. Speaker accepted the Report on behalf of the House the Minister of Works sidetracked the main Report by a question to the Chairman of the Committee rather than calling the Committee together. After being frank with the House, the Committee was shabbily treated by the Government. Is it not time that the members of the Committee were called together to discuss what still is inadequate accommodation for hon. Members?

Mr. Macleod

I undertook last week to have some consultation through the usual channels on these matters. Those considerations have started and are proceeding.

Mr. Hilton

It is a long time since the House had the opportunity of debating agriculture. In view of the very serious statement made by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food this afternoon, about £78 million Supplementary Estimates, may I ask the Leader of the House whether he will consider the question of an early debate on this matter, which we on this side of the House regard as very serious?

Mr. Macleod

It is, obviously, an extremely important matter, but it does not concern next week's business.

Mr. S. Silverman

May I return to next Wednesday's business? Did the Leader of the House not say, earlier, that the foreign affairs debate on Wednesday was to specially refer to Berlin? Is it not a fact that the reason why so many of us pressed the Government to find time before the Recess for a debate on foreign affairs was precisely so that we might discuss the specific issues there, which are now getting so critical? Would it not, therefore, on this situation, be of advantage to limit the debate instead of having it too discursive, as it would be likely to be on a Motion for the Adjournment, so that we can get down to understanding what the Government are to say in our names in Paris?

Mr. Macleod

That, of course, is a point of view. Clearly, the opening speeches will concern themselves mainly with Berlin, but I have announced the debate in the conventional form and I understand that, subject to the Ruling of Mr. Speaker and the ordinary prohibitions about reference to legislation and the rest, it will be in order for hon. Members, if they wish, to go wider than that subject.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

Will the Leader of the House tell us when we may expect the Road Traffic Bill from another place?

Mr. Macleod

Not next week.


As the right hon. Gentleman has twice used the reply that a matter does not refer to next week's business, when does one ask for consideration of a subject if it is not referring to next week's business?

Mr. Macleod

I recommend the hon. Member to try on the first Thursday after the Recess.

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