HC Deb 15 June 1961 vol 642 cc641-7
Mr. Gaitskell

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, 19TH JUNE—Completion of the Report stage of the Licensing Bill, which it is hoped to obtain by about seven o'clock; and of the Committee stage and remaining stages of the North Atlantic Shipping Bill.

Consideration of the Motion to approve the International Tin Council (Immunities and Privileges) Order.

TUESDAY, 20TH JUNE—We shall make further progress in Committee on the Finance Bill.

WEDNESDAY, 21ST JUNE—It is hoped to conclude the Committee stage of the Finance Bill by about seven o'clock, and then proceed with the Third Reading of the Licensing Bill.

THURSDAY, 22ND JUNE—Supply [18th Allotted Day]: Committee, which it is proposed to take formally.

A debate will take place on Southern Rhodesia, on a Government Motion.

Consideration of the Motion to approve the Special Roads (Classes of Traffic) Order.

FRIDAY, 23RD JUNE—Consideration of Private Members' Bills.

During the week we shall ask the House to pass the Land Compensation Bill [Lords] and the Factories Bill [Lords], which are consolidation Measures.

We also hope to proceed with the remaining stages of the Police Pensions Bill [Lords].

MONDAY, 26TH JUNE—The proposed business will be to complete the Committee and remaining stages of the Army and Air Force Bill.

Mr. Gaitskell

First, on Thursday's business, are we to take it that the Government Motion will be related to and in support of the proposed new Constitution for Southern Rhodesia? Secondly, on Monday's business, while the Licensing Bill has been treated by the Opposition as a matter for a free vote, I understand that it is not by any means certain that the Report stage will be concluded by seven o'clock.

Should the debate not be concluded by then, will the right hon. Gentleman give an undertaking that we shall not have to take the Committee and remaining stages of the North Atlantic Shipping Bill, in which many hon. Members are very interested, at a very late hour?

Mr. Butler

The first Motion on Thursday is likely to be in the form of taking note of the papers relating to the Southern Rhodesia Constitution.

It will be noted that on Monday we are separating the Report stage of the Licensing Bill from the Third Reading, as I undertook in the course of the recent debate, so as to give a chance for the reprinting of the Bill. I think that it should be possible to complete the Report stage within a reasonable time and that that should, therefore, enable us to proceed with the rest of the business. We had better see how we get on.

Mr. S. Silverman

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman what has happened to his proposed Motion about House of Lords reform and when he proposes to move it, or are we to take it that, the immediate emergency having passed, the urgency of this matter is no more acute now than it has been at any time during the past fifty years?

Mr. Butler

No, Sir. The Government intended to move a Motion relating to a Joint Select Committee, and in due course we shall move it. Meanwhile, there is no alteration in either our procedure or our policy, but we have certain more important business to get through first.

Mr. Strauss

Can the Leader of the House now give us any further information about the prospects of the Road Traffic Bill?

Mr. Butler

No, Sir; not at this stage.

Mr. Strauss

Since it now appears clear from a Government statement made in the House of Lords that this Bill, the purpose of which was to reduce the number of accidents and save lives, is to be jettisoned through lack of time, what justification have the Government for giving priority to a Bill to increase National Health Service charges, which was not even mentioned in the Queen's Speech?

Mr. Butler

The latter issue has been very widely debated in the House, and I cannot add anything to the very good reasons which the Government had for introducing the Measure in question.

When we are ready to make a statement about the Road Traffic Bill, we will.

Mr. Grimond

As the Leader of the House will no doubt be anxious to get abroad again early in August, and as it does not look as though, by then, we shall have finished all the Bills at present going through Parliament, can he tell us when he will be able to tell us which Bills will be abandoned?

Mr. Butler

Yes, Sir, in due course. May I say that I would rather prefer to visit one of those islands such as the hon. Member represents?

Mr. H. Wilson

Is it not extraordinary that the Leader of the House cannot give us any news about important Bills, when, as he announced in his business statement, he is asking the House to spend a good deal of time on the North Atlantic Shipping Bill, and when, as reported this weak, the chairman of the Cunard Company has said that he might not even need that loan by the time that Parliament has approved it? Is it not a great discourtesy to the House in that the House will have to go to all this trouble and have the loan thrown back in its face at the end of the day?

Mr. Butler

It is not either suitable or possible at the time of the business statement to take up policy questions, and I do not assume to myself the duty of answering a policy question.

It is our intention to proceed with and pass through the Bill relating to the Cunard affair.

Mr. Wilson

The right hon. Gentleman has obviously not understood my question. In his business statement he was asking us to spend a lot of time, perhaps late at night, on a Bill which seeks to vote a large sum of money to a private company. If the private company now says that it may not even want it, should we not have that decision about that from the private company before hon. Members are asked to waste any more time on this matter?

Mr. Butler

I would not have announced the Government business if it had not been the intention to make progress with the Bill.

The issue raised by the right hon. Gentleman could more properly be raised when questions of policy are discussed, namely, during the passage of the Bill.

Sir C. Osborne

Despite the number of Bills which we have to get through, would my right hon. Friend consider bringing in, before the Summer Recess, emergency legislation to deal with immigration, in view of the fact that recently Mr. Manley said in this country that he would not be opposed to some control of immigrants on health grounds and to dealing with the deportation of those with criminal records? If they are agreed, cannot we have legislation at once?

Mr. Butler

I think that my hon. Friend says that Mr. Manley has agreed to it. I did not read Mr. Manley's speech, which was brought to my attention, exactly in that sense. I agree that he certainly referred to health control—on their side, not on this side—and made certain references to our having power of deportation, which I noticed, but I do not think that he went further than that. This is a very urgent and important subject, but I have never given the hope that we would have time this Session to introduce legislation.

Mr. Darling

The right hon. Gentleman is still rather vague about some of the Bills in the pipeline. Could he say whether it is the intention of the Government now completely to drop the Weights and Measures Bill, or is there any hope of this Bill, which was first recommended ten years ago, getting through this Session?

Mr. Butler

No, Sir. I have no further statement to make on that subject at present.

Mr. Hamilton

With further reference to the question raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman), can the right hon. Gentleman say whether he will be moving his Motion on House of Lords reform within the next month? In view of the cluttered-up state of the legislative programme of the Government, would he not consider taking that Motion and Order No. 11—Suicide Bill [Lords]—together?

Mr. Butler

The hon. Gentleman is making very constructive suggestions, all of which will have consideration.

Mr. Mellish

Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to reply to the Question which I put to his right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer last week, about the possibility of having a debate in the not too far distant future—before the Summer Recess anyway—on the economic plight of Northern Ireland? Although we had a debate not so long ago, it was initiated on a Private Member's Motion. It is important, in view of the disastrous position of this small country, that we should know what the right hon. Gentleman and the Government intend to do. Can he say whether there will be a debate, as the people there are desperate?

Mr. Butler

I do not underestimate the difficulties in Northern Ireland. There are certain measures in hand which we hope will help the situation. We had a recent debate, I agree, but I can assure the hon. Gentleman that the situation will not be allowed to get out of sight.

Mr. Mellish

When can we have a debate?

Mr. Butler

I cannot give any answer at present.

Mr. Jay

Why has not the Leader of the House the courage to admit that it is not the intention of the Government to proceed with the Road Traffic Bill or the Weights and Measures Bill?

Mr. Butler

These matters are under consideration by my right hon. Friends principally concerned, and I have nothing futher to add today.

Mr. C. Royle

Following the question asked by the hon. Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne), will the Home Secretary go further than he has done already and state categorically that there will be no legislation on the lines suggested by the hon. Member?

Mr. Butler

I think that I should want to define the lines of my hon. Friend more closely with him before I could make such a categorical statement, but there will be no legislation directed against colour and based on prejudice.

Mr. Mendelson

May I draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the Motion on the Order Paper in my name and in the names of a considerable number of my hon. Friends, concerning the important recent increases in the level of rearmament in the Federal Republic of Germany? May I further call attention to the fact that these changes, important though they are, have never been submitted to Parliament? In these circumstances, would not he allow time for a debate?

[That this House deplores the decision of Her Majesty's Government in supporting the policy of Western European Union which is responsible for constantly increasing the military strength of the Federal Republic of Germany, including the decision to build destroyers of 6,000 tons equipped with nuclear weapons despite the assurances on German arms limitation given to Parliament and the country when the Brussels Treaty was accepted.]

Mr. Butler

I will discuss that with my right hon. Friend principally concerned.

Mr. Speaker

Mr. George Brown.

Mr. Page

On a point of order. My hon. Friend the Member for Plymouth, Devonport (Miss Vickers) has been rising a good many times to catch your eye, Sir.

Mr. Speaker

I am very sorry. I always endeavour to call all hon. Members who rise at the time of business questions, but I did not see the hon. Lady. Miss Vickers.

Miss Vickers

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether he intends to continue with the Report stage of the Human Tissues Bill? We have had many late nights, and if they continue, we shall probably find the Bill very useful.

Mr. Butler

I will see what I can do to help my hon. Friend.