§ Mr. Gaitskell
May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will state the business of the House for next week?
§ MONDAY, 8TH MAY—Supply [13th Allotted Day]: Committee.
§ A debate will take place on Apprenticeship and Training for Industry.
§ Consideration of the Motion relating to the Cotton Industry Development Council (Amendment No. 4) Order.
§ Consideration of the Motions to approve the Ploughing Grants Scheme, 1961 and a similar Scheme for Scotland.1603
§ Report and Third Reading of the Local Authorities (Expenditure on Special Purposes) (Scotland) Bill.
§ THURSDAY, 11TH MAY—Supply [14th Allotted Day]: Committee.
§ A debate will take place on Education in Scotland.
§ FRIDAY, 12TH MAY—Consideration of private Members' Motions.
§ Mr. Gaitskell
Can the right hon. Gentleman say something about the business for Monday week, as he usually does on these occasions? Will he bear in mind that it is the beginning of the last week before the Whitsun Recess, and that we have asked for and hope to have a two-day debate on foreign affairs?
I was not saying anything about the business on Monday, 15th May, because we wish to be certain of making progress with Government business in the coming week. Therefore, I have not said anything about the exact time of the debate on foreign affairs. I am aware that a request has been made for a two-day debate, but before that is finally agreed we want to be certain about the progress we make with business.
§ Sir H. Legge-Bourke
May we have a suspension of the Standing Order for Tuesday's business? The Covent Garden Bill is of wide interest to a great many horticulturists, as well as to the merchants in the market. I would also remind my right hon. Friend that the Land Drainage Bill is far from complete.
§ Mr. Jay
Can the right hon. Gentleman, say whether the Weights and Measures Bill has now been abandoned by the Government, despite the fact that a great deal of time has been devoted to that Bill by the House of Lords? Are we to understand that the whole of the legislative programme of the Government has got into such a muddle, as a result of the introduction of the Health Service charges Bills, that a number of valuable Bills are to be abandoned altogether?
I have no statement to make today about the Weights and Measures Bill. I do not accept the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion that the Government's legislative programme is in a state of disarray. We have made precisely the progress we expected with our programme. Despite certain efforts of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, we are making perfectly satisfactory progress.
§ Sir L. Ropner
Can my right hon. Friend say when a start will be made with the Committee stage of the Finance Bill?
§ Mr. Grimond
I understand that there is to be a statement on security. If so, can the right hon. Gentleman say whether there will be opportunity for debating the subject?
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will shortly be making a statement on the matter.
§ Mr. Peyton
I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will agree that great anxiety has been aroused throughout the country by the recent strike in the London docks. Can he say whether hon. Members will have an opportunity of debating this subject in the near future?
§ Mr. G. Thomas
As the Leader of the House must be aware, the people of Wales have been waiting for three months for him to give us an opportunity of discussing the leasehold problem. Since that is operating to the great disadvantage of our people, can an early opportunity be provided for a debate in the House on the working of that system?
This is one of many important problems, but I do not see an early opportunity of debating the matter, despite the persistence of the hon. Member.
§ Dame Irene Ward
Would it be possible, before we take the final stages of the Rating and Valuation Bill, to have 1605 a general debate on shipbuilding, ship-repairing and shipping generally? Hon. Members on both sides of the House have been pressing for a debate on this subject for some time.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Can the Leader of the House say whether the two-day foreign affairs debate will take place before the Government, and perhaps the world, are irrevocably committed to courses about the outstanding issues which are causing grave anxiety? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is a wide difference of opinion in the House about the conduct of Her Majesty's Government's affairs at the United Nations, that a great number of hon. Members are not persuaded—as the Government appear to be persuaded—that the United States Administration had nothing whatever to do with the Cuban adventure, and that we desire to debate this matter so that the Government shall understand what is the general feeling of the House before the matter proceeds further?
Without necessarily accepting the argument of the hon. Member, I am aware that these and many other matters, in so far as they are permitted to be in order by the Chair, may be raised during the foreign affairs debate.
§ Mr. Fell
Among the manifold duties of my right hon. Friend, has he had time to look at the Motion, in the name of about 90 of his hon. Friends, concerning President Tshombe, and the position in the Congo, and consider whether it is possible for an early debate to be arranged?
[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. Hammerskjold personally to intervene to secure President Tshombe's release, in accordance with the original United Nations Congo resolution.]
1606 I notice that next week we are to debate education in Scotland and I am wondering whether, because of the large amount of money we are spending in the Congo, and the importance and urgency of the matter, we might have an early debate on the whole question of our contribution towards the United Nations in aid of the Congo.
I am aware of the Motion, and I have some notes about it with me, but perhaps the matter might be raised during the course of the foreign affairs debate.
§ Mr. M. Foot
Is the Leader of the House aware that there is considerable concern among many hon. Members about the delay in having a debate in which we can discuss what has happened in Cuba, particularly in view of the statement, made on behalf of the Government, that they were not intending to make any representations whatever to the United States about this matter? Will the Leader of the House take into account that even if he has not received any representation through the usual channels, a large number of hon. Members want to discuss this situation?
I would not wish to go into the merits or otherwise of this matter at business time. I am aware of the desire of many hon. Members to discuss this subject and, in so far as it is accepted by the Chair, it will be in order to debate this subject during the foreign affairs debate. There is a variety of channels, and I endeavour to keep in touch with them all.
I have announced the business for next week and I think that it would be desirable that the foregin affairs debate should take place the week after.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that Britain is suffering terrible losses in productivity, that there is the threat of great unemployment, because of the serious situation in our shipyards, and, following on the question asked by the hon. Lady the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward), can the 1607 Leader of the House tell us when there will be a debate on this important subject?
I realise the special importance of this subject, but I would rather not give an indication before Whitsun.
§ Mr. Awbery
The Leader of the House will recall that a few months ago the Report of the Blood Commission was presented to him. As it is the intention of the Government to introduce a new Constitution in Malta this year, will the right hon. Gentleman arrange for a discussion to take place at an early date on the Commission's Report?
§ Mr. G. M. Thomson
Further to the question put to the Leader of the House a moment ago by the hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell), concerning the possible postponing of the debate on Scottish education, will the right hon. Gentleman remember that although there may be a great deal of trouble in the Congo, there are also many troubles with Scottish education? The Leader of the House will be aware that a teachers' strike is pending.
It is usual, each year, to devote a Supply Day to Scottish affairs and often the subject of education is chosen for that day. This year, we have purposely kept this date free.
Mr. Gresham Cooke
Has any decision been taken about the Whitsun Recess? If so, can my right hon. Friend make a statement on that subject?
We hope to adjourn for the Whitsun Recess on 19th May. The date we come back depends on the progress that is made with Government business. I will make an announcement in due course for the general convenience of hon. Members as soon as that is convenient.
§ Mr. S. Silverman
Is the House to understand from what the right hon. Gentleman said in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot) that a decision has been taken to have the foreign affairs debate the 1608 week after next? The Leader of the House did not say that in any of his previous answers, but I think that he did say it in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale.
Yes, that is the last week before Whitsun. I indicated previously that there would be a debate on foreign affairs, and I consider that that is the time when it should be held.
§ Mr. M. Foot
Is there one good reason why we should not have the foreign affairs debate next week? Can the Leader of the House tell us whether he has received any representations through the usual channels for having a debate next week on this subject? Surely, since many statements are being published in the United States Press to the effect that people in America may be contemplating the same kind of action that they took concerning Cuba before, there is an urgent need for this debate.
I should like to know whether the decision not to have a debate next week was made by the Leader of the House, or made as a result of representations received through the usual channels.
The decision was made by the Government and announced by the Leader of the House. We take into account all the representations that are made to us. It is, naturally, impossible to please everyone, but the Government are trying to get as broad a debate as we can on foreign affairs before Whitsun. It happens to suit better to have the debate the week after next.
§ Mr. Fell
May I support the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. M. Foot)—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]—for entirely different reasons—in the plea that he is making for a foreign affairs debate next week? It is not good enough to say that it suits things better to have it the week after. In fact, the Leader of the House must know that it suits things much better to have a foreign affairs debate next week, for many matters of the greatest possible urgency are arising at this moment, to which we ought to be paying attention. Will he please reconsider the matter?
I cannot reconsider the matter, but I am, of course, open at all times to representations.