HC Deb 06 July 1961 vol 643 cc1652-9
Mr. G. Brown

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, 10TH JULY—Supply [19th Allotted Day]: Committee.

A debate will take place on Science, on the appropriate Votes.

TUESDAY, 11TH JULY—Supply [20th Allotted Day]: Committee.

A debate on the National Health Service in England and Wales.

Consideration of the Motion to approve the Parking Places (Extension outside London No. 3) Order.

WEDNESDAY, 12TH JULY—Debate on Welsh Affairs.

The subject of Leasehold Reform in Wales will be debated on an Opposition Motion until seven o'clock.

Afterwards, a debate on Employment of Disabled and Elderly Persons in Wales, on the Report on Developments and Government Action in Wales and Monmouthshire, 1960.

THURSDAY, 13TH JULY—Supply [21st Allotted Day]: Committee.

A debate on Shipping and Shipbuilding.

Consideration of the Motion to approve the Potatoes (Guaranteed Prices) (Amendment) Order.

FRIDAY, 14TH JULY—Consideration of the Motions to approve the White Fish and Herring Subsidies (United Kingdom) Schemes and Orders.

If there is time, Second Reading of the Suicide Bill [Lords].

MONDAY, 17TH JULY—The proposed business will be Supply [22nd Allotted Day]: Committee.

A debate will take place on Education.

Mr. M. Foot

As the Leader of the House has not stated that there will be a debate about the situation in Berlin next week, can he give the House an assurance that there will be a full debate on it before the House rises for the Summer Recess?

Mr. Butler

No, Sir, I cannot give any such guarantee, but, naturally, I will discuss the matter with my right hon. Friends principally concerned.

Mr. Nabarro

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced a few minutes ago that it was expected that the consultations with the Commonwealth Prime Ministers and others would be completed on 17th July. That is nearly three weeks before this House rises for the Summer Recess. Can my right hon. Friend say whether it is the Government's intention to allow full facilities for a Common Market debate, which we have not had, either in Government time or on a Supply Day, since 21st November, 1956?

Mr. Butler

I have received a communication from some of my hon. Friends and some Members opposite, urging that this matter should be discussed. It is too early to make a decision until my right hon. Friends who are now visiting Commonwealth countries have returned and we have some idea of what they will report.

Mr. Wigg

Why are we not to have an immediate opportunity of debating the situation in Kuwait? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that already a grave situation, very like that at Suez, regarding shortages of equipment, has been revealed? Is he further aware that it is perfectly clear that the Prime Minister was not wholly candid with the House on Monday when he said that he took his decision to intervene last Friday? The Minister of Defence has admitted, in a Written Answer yesterday, that the "Bulwark" sailed from Karachi to Kuwait on Thursday, and that Centurion tanks were moving several days before that. When will the Government "come clean" and start trusting the British public with the truth?

Mr. Butler

I cannot accept the inferences in the hon. Gentleman's statement. Nor can I give an undertaking about a debate, but I will note that the request for a debate has been made.

Mr. Speir

Has my right hon. Friend noticed the Motion on the Order Paper relating to the problem of rural transport? [That this House views with concern the continuing reduction of bus services in the rural areas of Great Britain, draws attention to the hardship imposed on the rural population by the disappearance of public transport facilities, believes that this will lead to the further depopulation of the countryside, and is of opinion that special steps are urgently necessary to ensure that adequate services are maintained.] The Motion has received widespread support from hon. Members on both sides of the House and reflects the growing anxiety in the countryside at the continuing deterioration of public transport facilities. While I appreciate that it might not be possible to have a debate in the coming week, may I ask, in view of the importance of this problem to the well-being of the countryside, whether my right hon. Friend will try to arrange for a debate before the Recess?

Mr. Butler

I have noticed the Motion and its signatories. I cannot give any undertaking, in view of the amount of business there is to get through, that there will be time for a debate.

Mr. Darling

During the last two or three weeks the President of the Board of Trade has made statements in the House, in the form of Written Answers, about important matters, and we have not been able to question him about them. Can the right hon. Gentleman assure us that the President of the Board of Trade will make an oral statement about the Report of the Monopolies Commission on the tobacco industry, so that we can put questions to him?

The President of the Board of Trade could also give us some idea orally of his intentions with regard to the Weights and Measures (No. 2) Bill, so that we can ask him what it is to contain.

Mr. Butler

The best way to ascertain what that Bill is to contain is to await its publication. That will make it quite clear. Publication will be during this summer.

As to the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question—all I can do at business time is to undertake to discuss it with my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade.

Mr. P. Williams

Reference has been made to the possibility of a debate on the Common Market. Whether or not this is possible, can my right hon. Friend give an assurance that, whether we debate it or not, something will be done to include Commonwealth trade?

The debate to be held on Thursday on shipping and shipbuilding is obviously for the convenience of the House. Is my right hon. Friend aware that the House is grateful to the Government for having found time for this debate?

Mr. G. Brown

They did not. It is a Supply Day.

Mr. Williams

We are grateful that time has been found. The right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) must allow me to be polite. Can my right hon. Friend give an assurance that he would agree with the idea that the most satisfactory way of dealing with the debate would be, even at this late date, to withdraw the North Atlantic Shipping Bill?

Mr. Butler

No, Sir. There is no question of withdrawing that Bill. I am grateful to the Opposition for realising the sensitivity of the House and choosing shipping and shipbuilding for a debate, for it is very important that it should be discussed.

It is obvious from the tour by my colleagues that we attach the greatest importance to Commonwealth trade.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

When are we likely to get the Road Traffic Bill, in view of the increased toll of casualties on the roads?

Mr. Butler

I am not in a position to make a statement today.

Dame Irene Ward

Will my right hon. Friend, before the business on Friday of next week, convey to the Ministers con- cerned that there are quite a lot of hon. Members from fishing ports who want to hook Ministers from the Treasury Bench because of the policies which the Government appear to follow towards the fishing industry? Will he please convey that to the Ministers concerned, so that they may come prepared?

Mr. Butler

I will convey verbatim to my right hon. Friends what my hon. Friend says.

Mr. S. Silverman

Referring to the question put by my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot) about a possible debate on the German and Berlin situations, has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been called to a Motion on the Order Paper which my hon. Friends and others, including myself, have signed? [That this House views with increasing distress the deepening crisis in Europe concerning Berlin, declares its conviction that there are no factors in the situation which are not capable of being resolved by negotiation conducted in good faith, deplores therefore the unnecessary bellicosity with which the controversy is being conducted, declares that the de facto recognition of East Germany can no longer be reasonably withheld, and calls upon Her Majesty's Government to take a positive and constructive initiative to end the present anomalous status of Berlin and place the independence of the inhabitants of West Berlin and free access thereto not upon the obsolete military occupation clauses of the Potsdam agreement but upon the firm and stable foundations of treaty rights negotiated in the light of the realistic facts.] Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that the present indications are that this situation may become very acute indeed, with all the consequences that are inherent in it, at a time when Parliament is not sitting? Does not this make it necessary that he should go a little further than he went in his answer to my hon. Friend and give an undertaking that, if he cannot find time for this Motion, he will find some other opportunity when these issues can be debated?

Mr. Butler

Nobody will deny the seriousness of the situation in relation to Berlin. I can only assure the hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot) that this matter is under constant review by Her Majesty's Ministers. While I cannot give any assurance today, I can give him the undertaking that this matter will be kept very much under review.

Mr. Ridsdale

In view of the serious economic situation which confronts us, can my right hon. Friend say when we may have an opportunity of speaking a little more widely about the economic situation than is possible on the Third Reading of the Finance Bill?

Mr. Butler

The latitude of debate on the Finance Bill is a matter for the Chair. I cannot go any further today than I have already indicated.

Mr. G. Brown

Does the right hon. Gentleman recall that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition last week asked the Government for an assurance that there would be a foreign affairs debate before the House rises in a month's time? Will he also bear in mind that we also think that there should be a debate on the economic situation before the Recess?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. I will note those requests.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that particular reference should be made to a debate on exports, to bring their situation home to industry before the Recess? Is he further aware that the delivery dates of British goods nowhere match those of most of our competitors and that something must be done about it?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir. I think that this would be included in any reference to the economic situation.

Mr. Stonehouse

Is the Leader of the House proposing to find time for a debate on the proposals for the Northern Rhodesia Constitution, in view of the serious situation now developing because the Colonial Secretary has gone back on the original proposals and has gone back on the assurances which he gave to Mr. Kaunda?

Mr. Butler

I cannot accept the implication of the hon. Member's question, and at present I have no statement to make about a debate.

Mr. Shinwell

Does the right hon. Gentleman know of any precedent, cer- tainly within the last thirty or forty years, for forces being built up for the purpose of resisting a threatened aggression, in the manner in which they have been built up in Kuwait, without the Government affording facilities for a debate? Can he recall what happened over Korea and over Suez? Is it not desirable that the House should have an opportunity of gaining all possible information as to the reasons why forces have been built up in this fashion, and to be able to express an opinion?

Mr. Butler

All I can do is to undertake to discuss these matters with the Prime Minister and the Ministers principally concerned.

Mr. Thorpe

Reverting to the question put by the hon. Member for Wednesbury (Mr. Stonehouse), is the Leader of the House aware that when I asked him last week about the possibility of a debate on the Northern Rhodesia Constitution he was rash enough to say that he would go so far as to bear the matter in mind? Is he aware that this afternoon he merely said that he could not make a statement? Can he not revert to the position which he adopted last week? Will he bear in mind that this is a territory for which the House is responsible and that this is a matter which is being debated at large in Central Africa? Will he try to provide an opportunity for the House to discuss this new situation before we rise for the Summer Recess?

Mr. Butler

I cannot give any undertaking, but I can certainly revert to the language of last week.

Dr. King

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen a Motion in the name of his hon. Friend the Member for Barry (Mr. Gower), asking the Government to introduce a workers' charter? In its General Election manifesto of 1950, the Conservative Party said: One of the first tasks of a Conservative Government would be to bring into operation the Workers' Charter adopted as the policy of the party in 1947. Could we not have an opportunity, at an early date, to discuss the Motion? [That this House calls upon Her Majesty's Government to introduce legislation, at an early date, to implement the main proposals of the Workers' Charter; and to incorporate therein, in the light of present circumstances, such additional measures as may enhance the dignity and status of the employee in industry.]

Mr. Butler

I do not think that there will be an opportunity. In any case, these matters are being discussed by my right hon. Friend with those principally concerned.

Mr. Roy Jenkins

Can the Leader of the House tell us when the Chancellor of the Exchequer is likely to introduce his restrictive economic measures—next week, or later in July?

Mr. Butler

I cannot accept the statement of the hon. Gentleman. Nor have I any further statement to make at the moment.

Mr. Speaker

We must confine this time to business questions. It has become disorderly.

Mr. M. Foot

Does the Leader of the House agree that, from the questions put to him, it appears to be the consensus of opinion in the House that the four most important questions facing the country are the position in Berlin, the position in Kuwait, the position in Africa, and the Common Market, not to mention the economic crisis? Are we to attribute to the right hon. Gentleman's brilliant skill the fact that no arrangements have been made for discussing any of them?

Mr. Butler

The hon. Gentleman should feel satisfied that all these matters are obviously of very great importance. There will, no doubt, be an opportunity for discussing them, if there is time, in relation to the importance of the issues. At present, we are making headway with Supply, for which there are several outstanding days, and I think that we are satisfying the wishes of the Opposition in taking the subjects which they have put forward.

Back to