HC Deb 08 June 1961 vol 641 cc1398-403
Mr. Gaitskell

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

The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)

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

MONDAY, 12TH JUNE—Supply [16th Allotted Day]: Committee.

A debate will take place on Agriculture in England and Wales.

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

TUESDAY, 13TH JUNE, and WEDNESDAY, 14TH JUNE—We shall make further progress in Committee on the Finance Bill.

THURSDAY, 15TH JUNE—Supply [17th Allotted Day]: Committee.

A debate will take place on the need for an Inquiry into the Case of the late Timothy John Evans.

The Chairman of Ways and Means informs me that he proposes to set down an opposed Private Bill—the London County Council (General Powers) Bill [Lords]—for Second Reading at seven o'clock this evening.

FRIDAY, 16TH JUNE—Consideration of private Members' Motions.

MONDAY, 19TH JUNE—It is hoped to complete the Report stage of the Licensing Bill by about seven o'clock.

Afterwards, other Orders will be taken which will be announced later.

Mr. Gaitskell

First, is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that, although Thursday is a Supply day and the debate has been selected by the Government, it is not our intention to divide the House? We hope that this issue will be treated entirely as a non-party affair which, nevertheless, merits urgent discussion.

Secondly, since we were unable to put further questions to the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations today, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman make arrangements for a debate on the proposed new Constitution for Southern Rhodesia as soon as possible after the two White Papers are published?

Mr. Lloyd

I note what the right hon. Gentleman says in his first question. I will tell my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House about the suggestion contained in his second question. No doubt it will be discussed through the usual channels.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that last Thursday, after the Leader of the House made his business statement, I asked him about the Motion on the Order Paper concerning the desire of very many hon. Members that President Tshombe of Katanga should be released? Is he further aware that my right hon. Friend said that he would draw the matter to the attention of his colleagues? Can my right hon. and learned Friend say what has happened about this matter

[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. Lloyd

My statement dealt with the business for next week. I do not think it appropriate for me to attempt to answer my hon. Friend's question.

Mr. Gaitskell

I understand that I inadvertently used the word "Government" when referring to the Opposition. This may be in anticipation of things to come, but I should like to correct it.

Mr. Shinwell

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman say when the Government propose to take the remaining stages of the Army and Air Force Bill?

Mr. Lloyd

I cannot give any specific date, but it will be in the near future.

Mr. Darling

Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman tell us the Government's intention with regard to the Weights and Measures Bill, which, obviously, will not be introduced this Session?

Mr. Lloyd

I have nothing to add today to what has already been said about that.

Mr. Thorpe

Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman help us with a constitutional point of some importance relating to the capacity in which he is acting? One of his right hon. Friends has told us that two White Papers will shortly be published relating to Central Africa. According to those White Papers, this House will be asked to surrender certain reserved powers, Can the right hon. and learned Gentleman give us an assurance that a debate will take place on that subject before a public referendum on it is held in Central Africa? Would he not agree that the first persons who should be consulted are the elected representatives both in Southern Rhodesia and here, and that a referendum should follow debates in the two Chambers and not precede them?

Mr. Lloyd

I certainly cannot give an answer to that question or any such assurance in making the business statement this afternoon, but I will see that the point made by the hon. Member is brought to my right hon. Friend's attention.

Mr. Jay

Is the Home Secretary's absence today due to his inability to say what has happened to the Government's principal Bills?

Mr. Lloyd

My right hon. Friend is at York, at the wedding of His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent and Miss Worsley.

Dame Irene Ward

May I ask my right hon. and learned Friend, concerning a number of Motions on the Order Paper, how many signatures must be attached to a Motion in support of it before democracy operates and we are able to deal with it?

Mr. Lloyd

I am not aware of any precise rule on that matter.

Mr. Strauss

Can we be told what are the prospects for the Road Traffic Bill, and whether there is any doubt that it Will be put forward this Session? Will the Government bear in mind that this Bill was mentioned in the Queen's speech and that the increase in the National Health Service charges was not?

Mr. Lloyd

That Bill is still in another place and I have no statement to make about it today.

Mr. Rankin

Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that the report of the Sub-Committee of the Advisory Committee on Shipbuilding has been before the House for a considerable time and that we were informed previously that nothing could be done about a debate on shipbuilding until that Report was before us? It has now been accompanied by other Reports. Since the Leader of the House is safely out of the way at York, can the Chancellor of the Exchequer now tell us when the Government propose to find time to debate their own Report?

Mr. Lloyd

I know that this is a matter which my right hon. Friend has in mind, but there will not be a day for debating it next week.

Mr. Chapman

Is it intended to take the Third Reading of the Licensing Bill a week on Monday, or only to try to complete the Report stage?

Mr. Lloyd

No, it is not intended to take that on Monday week. My right hon. Friend's intention is, I think, that the Bill should be reprinted and taken later.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

May I draw the right hon. and learned Gentleman's attention, both in his temporary capacity as Leader of the House and in his more permanent capacity as Chancellor of the Exchequer, to the Motion on the Order Paper concerning the inadequacy of the plans for expanding university provision in Scotland?

[That this House regrets the failure of Her Majesty's Government to announce plans for the expansion of the number of university places in Scotland on a scale sufficient to meet the estimated increase in the applications for university education during the next decade; deplores the fact that, at a time when seven new universities are to be provided for England, students in Scotland will be taken into overcrowded classrooms, in institutions deficient in up-to-date equipment and amenities; and condemns the failure of the Government to provide the means of achieving a long-term programme of university education which will enable Scotland to retain her traditional place in the forefront of higher education and to meet the challenge presented by a rapidly changing world.]

In view of the general anxiety about this matter in Scotland, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman consider the possibility of providing time for this issue to be debated in the House?

Mr. Lloyd

I will certainly see that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House considers that matter, but there will not be time next week.

Mr. Thorpe

On a point of order. Would it be in order to congratulate the right hon. and learned Gentleman for managing, during the last half hour, to combine more offices than any other hon. Member since the time of the Duke of Wellington?

Mr. Speaker

It would not be in order at any time, least of all during business questions.

Mr. Mellish

Will the Chancellor of the Exchequer please take note and pass on to the appropriate quarter that many of us on this side are alarmed about economic conditions in Northern Ireland? Although we had a debate a short while ago, the situation is worsening and we on this side consider that the time has now come when the Government should initiate a debate and say precisely what they propose to do to relieve the plight of the unfortunate people there?

Mr. Lloyd

I will certainly convey the hon. Member's suggestion to my right hon. Friend.