HC Deb 02 November 1961 vol 648 cc323-8
Mr. Gaitskell

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will tell us what is the business of the House for next week?

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. lain Macleod)

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

The debate on the Address in reply to the Gracious Speech will be continued on Monday, 6th November and brought to a conclusion on Tuesday, 7th November.

WEDNESDAY, 8TH NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Tanganyika Independence Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

Second Reading of the Southern Rhodesia (Constitution) Bill.

Afterwards, we propose to proceed with the Second Reading of the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, and the Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

THURSDAY, 9TH NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Family Allowances and National Insurance Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

FRIDAY, 10TH NOVEMBER—Committee and remaining stages of the Tanganyika Independence Bill, and of the Southern Rhodesia (Constitution) Bill.

If there is time, Second Reading of the Export Guarantees Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

MONDAY, 13TH NOVEMBER—The proposed business will be Second Reading of the Education Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

We hope then to obtain the Second Reading of the Health Visitors and Social Workers Training Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that in our opinion it is exceedingly unlikely that there will be any time for the Second Reading of the Export Guarantees Bill on Friday in view of the somewhat controversial character of the Southern Rhodesia (Constitution) Bill, the Committee stage of which is to be taken that day?

Is the right hon. Gentleman also aware that we have doubts whether it will be possible to dispose both of the Second Reading of the Education Bill and the Second Reading of the Health Visitors and Social Workers Training Bill on Monday the 13th?

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman one other question? Will he give us an assurance that the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill will not be rushed through the House and, in particular, that plenty of time will be available between the publication of the Bill and its Second Reading?

Mr. Macleod

On the last point, yes, certainly. I have announced the business up to 13th November. The Bill is not included in that and I will see that there is plenty of opportunity for hon. Members to study the Bill before the Second Reading is taken.

As far as the next week's business is concerned, I note what the right hon. Gentleman says. The Export Guarantees Bill is put down to be taken if there is time. The last time that we had a similar Bill it took a comparatively short amount of the time of the House, but we must see how we get on.

Mr. G. Thomas

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen the Motion on leasehold reform on the Order Paper? I hope that he will be more forthcoming than his predecessor and allow us to have a full debate on this question early this Session.

[That this House, noting with concern the continued practice of ground landlords to demand large premiums before either renewing a lease or selling the freehold, calls upon Her Majesty's Government to introduce legislation enabling owner-occupiers to buy the freehold of their home at a fair and reasonable cost.]

Mr. Macleod

On the general question of Motions, we yesterday passed the Motion on private Members' time which provides 14 occasions on which matters can be raised and there are also 26 Supply days at the disposal of the Opposition. That seems to me to afford plenty of opportunity.

Mr. Shinwell

As the Minister of Transport has recently made several statements on the shipbuilding and shipping position in the United Kingdom, and as it is quite impossible to debate the subject adequately in the course of the general debate on the Address, will the Leader of the House give an assurance that time will be found to enable the House to discuss this matter adequately?

Mr. Macleod

I could not give such an assurance, but I will discuss the matter with the Minister concerned.

Mr. Darling

Will the right hon. Gentleman clear up a confusion about the Weights and Measures (No. 2) Bill? Will he say whether it is the Government's intention to proceed with it this Session?

Mr. Macleod

If we make sufficient progress with our programme, I hope that that may be possible.

Mr. Darling

Surely the right hon. Gentleman will remember that the reason given for not introducing it the last Session was that it was reached too late in the Session. If the Minister proposes to leave it until later in the Session, the same considerations will apply and we shall not be able to proceed with the Bill at all.

Mr. Macleod

That is possible, but we must see how we get on, particularly during the first weeks after the Second Readings of major Bills coming before the House.

Mr. Shinwell

Do I understand that the Leader of the House is unable to give on behalf of the Government an assurance that we shall discuss in the House the important matter of shipbuilding and shipping? In view of the muddle, for which the Government are partly, at any rate, responsible, over the Cunard affair, is it not desirable that we should have a debate?

Mr. Macleod

I undertook to discuss this matter with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport. The right hon. Gentleman is quite right: I am not promising a day of Government time for this subject.

Mrs. Butler

Looking much further ahead, will the Leader of the House consider with the usual channels the possibility of arranging the business of the Session so that the House can rise at the beginning of July so as to avoid the staleness and fatigue which often come over it in that month and come back in September to cope with any crisis which may have arisen during August without having to be specially recalled?

Mr. Macleod

That goes a long way beyond the business for next week, but I take note of what the hon. Lady says.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is some concern and anxiety throughout the country on the question of civil defence? In view of the fact that America and West Germany have elaborate precautions for fall-out shelters, does the right hon. Gentleman think that he can give us a day to discuss plans for protecting the civil population in the event of war?

Mr. Macleod

That is not likely—anyway, at this stage of the Session.

Mr. Awbery

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the new Constitution for Malta comes into operation in February, when the general election takes place, that every political party in Malta is opposed to the Constitution and that it has not been discussed here? Will he make arrangements for it to be discussed on the Floor of the House?

Mr. Macleod

I will discuss that with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies.

Mr. S. Silverman

May I address a question to you, Mr. Speaker, arising out of the Leader of the House's announcement that the business for Monday and Tuesday next week will be the continuation of the debate on the Address, which will conclude on Tuesday night? There is a number of Amendments to the Address on the Order Paper, and I suppose that at some convenient time you, Sir, will tell us which of them, if any, you are selecting for discussion.

Before you do that, Mr. Speaker, may I call your attention to two Amendments on the Order Paper, one in the names of myself and some of my hon. Friends and another in very similar terms and covering almost the same ground in the names of other of my hon. Friends? I should like to remind you, Sir, that in considering the matter the Prime Minister was good enough to tell us the other day, quite correctly, that the views expressed in these Amendments are shared by a very considerable number of people in the country. They are, in fact, the official policy of my right hon. and hon. Friends.

As they have not, in their discretion, sought to table an Amendment about it so as to give the House and people outside the House who agree with these views the opportunity of being represented here, I submit to you, Sir, that it would be in every way proper that, since the matter is in issue between both sides of the House, we should have an opportunity to discuss it on the basis of this Amendment, or one of the Amendments.

Mr. Speaker

I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman. I hear what he says. In this matter I try to be guided by precedent. I do not think that strictly at this moment I can tell the House the position about Monday, because potentially it is possible for hon. Members to table Amendments tomorrow. However, one added in respect of Monday would be so late as to suffer some disadvantage in regard to selection.

I think that I may properly indicate now that, in default of something very extraordinary happening, I have it in mind to select the first of the two official Opposition Amendments standing on the Order Paper for debate on Monday.

Mr. Silverman

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the information which you have given us about your intentions. However, I am sure that you have not overlooked the fact that there are ample precedents for calling unofficial Amendments on these occasions. There was one very famous occasion when the right hon. Member for—[HON. MEMBERS: "Woodford."] Personally, I always remember him as the right hon. Member for Epping, and I frequently get mixed up between Epping and Woodford.

There was that very authoritative precedent, I think in the early 1930s, when the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Woodford (Sir W. Churchill) tabled an Amendment to the Address about, I think, his own Government's policy for India. This was accepted for debate. There was a similar precedent concerning foreign affairs on the opposite side of the House when there was a Labour Government in 1946. It is, therefore, not without precedent to call Amendments on important matters on which opinions are widely held and the issues go deep merely on the ground that they are not put forward by the Opposition Front Bench.

Mr. Speaker

When I said that I endeavoured to follow precedent, I assure the hon. Gentleman that that did not mean that I had forgotten the matters to which he has just been referring and to which he specifically referred me on a similar occasion during the last Session in support of one of his Amendments. I have taken those matters into account and indicated my view.