HC Deb 01 June 1961 vol 641 cc421-7
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, 5TH JUNE, and TUESDAY, 6TH JUNE—Report and Third Reading of the Licensing Bill.

WEDNESDAY, 7TH JUNE, and THURSDAY, 8TH JUNE—We shall make further progress in Committee on the Finance Bill.

FRIDAY, 9TH JUNE—Consideration of Private Members' Bills.

MONDAY, 12TH JUNE—The proposed business will be Supply [16th Allotted Day]: Committee.

Debate on Agriculture in England and Wales.

Consideration of the Motion relating to the Fertilisers (United Kingdom) Scheme, 1961.

Mr. Brown

Concerning the business announced for Monday and Tuesday, which we on this side, unlike the Government, have treated all the way through as a House of Commons matter not subject to the Whips, is the Leader of the House aware that about 160 Amendments have been put down, half of which at least appear to be Government Amendments? Does he consider that he is realistic in hoping that the House will get through this business in two days?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir, I think so. One of the main Amendments is followed by a great number of consequential Amendments relating to a request made in Committee for a new form of confirmation order for licensing. That in itself is not so much controversial as technical and intricate. It will not necessarily be difficult to get through the main issues to be discussed by the House in the time.

We want to treat the Bill in the same spirit as that to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. Let us try and make the best possible progress.

Mr. Rankin

From time to time, when dealing with business on Thursdays, the Home Secretary has promised us a debate on shipbuilding. Does he not realise that last Monday's proceedings made such a debate urgent, and that if he does not proceed to fulfil his promise about debating the future of shipbuilding we may well be looking back on its past?

Mr. Butler

I cannot make a further statement on that today.

Mr. P. Williams

Will my right hon. Friend nevertheless tell the House whether it is not now possible to drop the North Atlantic Shipping Bill and in place of it to give a day for a general debate on shipping and shipbuilding, which is incomparably more important?

Mr. Butler

No, Sir. The Government intend to proceed with and carry through that Bill.

Mr. G. Thomas

In view of the highly controversial nature of the Licensing Bill in Wales, and bearing in mind the well-known concern of the Leader of the House for people who are left out in the cold, does the right hon. Gentleman not think it a shame, to use his own language, that the Welsh people have been left without protection against the ground landlords for so long? Will he now give us an opportunity for a debate on the leasehold system?

Mr. Butler

I congratulate the hon. Member on bringing so many points into his question, but I cannot offer him a day at the moment.

Mr. W. Yates

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he has noticed a Motion on the Order Paper standing in my name, concerning the visit of President Kennedy to Europe? In view of the State visit which President Kennedy is making to France, and his visit to Vienna, will there be any opportunity for Members of both Houses to hear what the President has to say about his meeting with Mr. Khrushchev? Has my right hon. Friend given the matter any consideration?

[That this House, in view of the fact that the President of the United States of America has accepted an invitation to make a semi-State visit to the Republic of France in May, calls upon Her Majesty's Government to invite President Kennedy to visit Great Britain and to address Members of the House of Commons and Lords at Westminster, before returning to Washington, concerning the state of the alliance between Great Britain and the United States of America and the plans of the free world to conquer outer space.]

Mr. Butler

I do not think that that is a suitable question to deal with at business time, and I cannot give any answer to it at the moment.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

Reverting to the question asked by my right hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown), may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, on reflection, he does not agree that two days for the Report and Third Reading stages is far too short for a Bill of the calibre of the Licensing Bill? Many of the Amendments, a number of which he has tabled, are of a very complicated nature. In view of that, surely the right hon. Gentleman would wish the House to debate the Bill properly and at length.

Mr. Butler

I certainly accept what the right hon. Gentleman says about debating the matter properly. However, the answer which I gave to the right hon. Member for Belper (Mr. G. Brown) holds good, namely, that we should make the best progress possible. I think that it will be seen that the issue is properly debated.

Mr. W. Yates

On a point of order. In view of the reply just given by the Leader of the House, is it not possible for my right hon. Friend to consult through the usual channels and to arrange for a better reply to be given to an hon. Member to a question like that?

Mr. Speaker

It may or it may not be, but it cannot be a point of order.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Has my right hon. Friend studied the Motion on the Order Paper, signed by nearly 100 hon. Members, including one member of the Liberal Party, calling for the release and repatriation of President Tshombe, of Katanga? If he cannot arrange an early debate, will he take advantage of Mr. Hammarskjöld's presence in England to hand him a copy of the Motion?

[That this House urges Her Majesty's Government, in view of the increasing threat to law and order in the Congo and especially in Katanga, and the consequent threat to neighbouring British territories, arising from the arrest of President Tshombe in violation of the safe-conduct he was guaranteed by the Congo Government, to take immediate steps to press Mr. Hammarskjöld personally to intervene to secure President Tshombe's release, in accordance with the original United Nations Congo resolution.]

Mr. Butler

I notice that my hon. Friend does not press the question of time. I will certainly discuss the issue with my right hon. Friend principally concerned.

Mr. Strauss

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us his proposals concerning the Road Traffic Bill, since it has not yet emerged from the House of Lords? The last time a similar Bill came before the House of Commons, in 1956, it was more than six months in Committee.

Mr. Butler

It is precisely because it has not yet emerged from the Upper House that I cannot make any statement as to its future.

Mr. Darling

Could the right hon. Gentleman give us some information about the position of the Weights and Measures Bill, which has emerged from the other place? Could he say what the prospects are of getting it through this Session?

Mr. Butler

I have no statement to make on that subject at present.

Mr. Grimond

In view of the intolerable business muddle in which the Government now find themselves, will the right hon. Gentleman tell us soon which Bills will be abandoned? While he is considering this, will he give high priority to the possibility of abandoning the North Atlantic Shipping Bill and the Crofters Bill, which has met with unanimous dislike from hon. Members on both sides after eighteen sittings of the Scottish Standing Committee?

Mr. Butler

We intend to proceed in particular with the two Bills to which the hon. Gentleman has referred.

Mr. S. Silverman

May I once again draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to the Motion in his own name about House of Lords reform? Can he tell us when it is likely to be moved? If his difficulty arises out of anticipation of controversy, might not that be cleared up if he accepted the Amendment to the Motion on the Order Paper in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes)?

[That it is expedient that a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament be appointed to consider, having regard among other things to the need to maintain an efficient Second Chamber.

  1. (a) the composition of the House of Lords,
  2. (b) whether any, and if so what, changes should be made in the rights of Peers and Peeresses in their own right in regard to eligibility to sit in either House of Parliament and to vote at Parliamentary elections; and whether any, and if so what, changes should be made in the law relating to the surrender of peerages, and
  3. (c) whether it would be desirable to introduce the principle of remuneration for Members of the House of Lords, and if so subject to what conditions,
and to make recommendations.]

Mr. Butler

I cannot undertake to accept any Amendment, but I shall be announcing in due course when we propose to make progress with that particular matter.

Mr. Jay

Could not the right hon. Gentleman have occupied his Whitsun Recess more profitably in overcoming the muddle of the Government's legislative programme rather than by flying to Madrid and back?

Mr. Butler

My time was profitably spent. Anyway, it was very enjoyable. As far as I can see, Government business is running quite up to date, and we propose to make further progress with it during the agreeable months which lie ahead.

Mr. Stonehouse

Is the Leader of the House yet able to say when he can arrange time for a debate on the Morse Report on the High Commission Territories in view of the important position now of the Protectorates?

Mr. Butler

I realise the importance of the subject. I will take note of what he has said.

Mr. Ross

Does the right hon. Gentleman recollect that he rejected a suggestion of mine about the promotion of certain Scottish business last week? Now that we have not got anywhere near it, will he tell us what he intends to do about the Lords Amendments to the Flood Prevention (Scotland) Bill?

Mr. Butler

We shall take them in due course.

Mr. Gordon Walker

If the Government's business is going so well, can the right hon. Gentleman give us an assurance that he will proceed with the Road Traffic Bill?

Mr. Butler

No, Sir. I cannot make a statement until it emerges from another place.

Mr. Donnelly

Can the Leader of the House give us an assurance that the debate on agriculture will be drawn in such terms that it will be in order to discuss the implications to agriculture of our entry into the Common Market?

Mr. Butler

Being a Supply Day, this is Opposition business. Therefore, perhaps the hon. Gentleman will consult the Opposition Front Bench to ensure that the debate is according to what he desires.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there are many precedents for distinguished foreign statesmen addressing Members of both Houses of Parliament when they visit this country? Could not he use his influence with the Prime Minister, if he has any, to persuade President Kennedy to address a meeting of both Houses, because some of us would like to put some questions to him, especially one asking when he proposes to take the Polaris base home to America?

Mr. Butler

It would be tempting for me to use business time to make a great many pronouncements, some of which would be agreeable to some people and some to others. But I must stick to answering business questions, and I do not think that this is a suitable question to raise at business time.

Mr. Thorpe

Arising out of the question of the hon. Member for Pembroke (Mr. Donnelly), could the Leader of the House give us an assurance that the Minister officially responsible for making pronouncements on the Common Market will be on the Government Front Bench to reply to the debate on agriculture?

Mr. Butler

The hon. Member will find that the Government Front Bench is usually excellently manned.