HC Deb 05 April 1962 vol 657 cc641-6
Mr. Gaitskell

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

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

Yes, Silr. As already announced, my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will open his Budget on Monday, 9th April.

The general debate on the Budget Resolutions and the Economic Situation will be continued during the week and brought to a conclusion on Thursday, 12th April.

At the end of the debate on Thursday, we shall ask the House to agree to Lords Amendments to the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, which are expected today from another place.

FRIDAY, 13th April:—private Members Motions.

MONDAY, 16th April:—The proposed business will be: Second Reading of the Licensing (Scotland) Bill [Lords.]

Report stage of the Budget Resolutions.

Motion on the General Grant Increase (Scotland) Order.

The House will wish to know that it is intended to propose that the House should rise for the Easter Adjournment on Thursday, 19th April, until Tuesday, 1st May.

Mr. Gaitskell

Could the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the Lords Amendments to the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill are mostly of a drafting and consequential character and not of any great substance, so that it can be perhaps justifiable to take them at that hour of the night? Otherwise, we should want more time. Can he also tell me whether we are to have a debate on Central Africa before Easter, as he implied in answer to my question last week?

Mr. Macleod

The Lords Amendments to the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill are, as the right hon. Gentleman said, small and drafting Amendments.

On the question of a debate on matters affecting the Central Africa Federation, which I know the House is very anxious to have, it probably will be for the general convenience if we have that shortly after the Easter Recess, but we will bear very much in mind the desirability of having it before my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary leaves on his projected visit to Central Africa.

Mr. F. Harris

Will it be possible for my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary to make a statement on the outcome of the Kenya constitutional talks in the near future, and if so. will he make k to the House?

Mr. Macleod

We are all hoping very much that the last stages of that protracted conference go well. If they do, I am sure that it certainly will be the wish of my right hon. Friend to make a statement, to the House, and in due course, no doubt, a White Paper will be laid.

Mr. Shinwell

The right hon. Gentleman is no doubt aware that there is a Motion on the Order Paper in my name and in the names of several of my hon. Friends on the prerogative of mercy.

[That this House calls upon the Secretary of State for the Home Department, within the powers vested in him, to advise the exercise of the prerogative of mercy in respect of those persons associated with the Nuclear Disarmament Campaign who were sentenced to terms of imprisonment at the Old Bailey.]

In view of the appeal having been disposed of, would the right hon. Gentleman now offer time, perhaps half a day, for the purpose of debate on this subject, or, alternatively, approach the Home Secretary with a view to adopting the contents of the Motion?

Mr. Macleod

On that, if I may, I will speak to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.

Mr. Nabarro

After Monday, 16th April, there are only two days left for Government business before Easter. Can my right hon. Friend give the House an assurance that, having regard to the lengthy, complex and controversial questions still outstanding on the remaining stages of the Transport Bill, there will not be any undue hurry to try to rush the completion of these remaining stages before Easter, notably in the context of Clause 13, on which there is strong feeling on this side of the House?

Mr. Macleod

My hon. Friend's arithmetic is impeccable. There are two days left for Government business, as he says, after Monday, 16th April. I am not yet in a position to make a statement about that, but my hon. Friend knows that there is an Allocation of Time Motion. That is being adhered to, and the Business Committee will in due course put its recommendations before the House.

Dame Irene Ward

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the large number of Motions on all sorts of subjects on the Order Paper which require decisions? May I ask whether he will arrange for a general debate so that we may have votes on all the outstanding matters on which backbenchers would like to instruct Her Majesty's Government? I repeat "instruct" and would underline it three times.

Mr. Macleod

That is one of the most alarming propositions that I have ever heard. As my hon. Friend knows very well, there are occasions—not very many, and I wish there were more—like Consolidated Fund Bills, on which almost everything is in order and it is possible for hon. Members to raise within the usual rules of order such matters as they choose. Apart from that, of course, there must be some competition between the Motions on the Order Paper.

Mr. Pepplewell

Will the right hon. Gentleman give further consideration as quickly as possible, when the House resumes after Easter, to a debate on a Motion in my name and in the names of many of my hon. Friends on the closure of the North and South Tyneside electric rail service?

[That this house strongly condemns the transport policy of the Government which refuses to accept the social needs of transport and compels the British Transport Commission to assess each section of its undertaking on a profit and loss basis, and further condemns the closure of several branch lines, in particular the proposal to discontinue the North and South Tyneside electric rail service,]

I ask this in view of the nation-wide interest in the closing of railway branch lines and, in particular, in view of the suggested closing of this service. Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the answer that he gave previously today about the Guillotine on the Transport Bill makes nonsense of the answer he made to me on 2nd March, when he said that opportunities would be given to discuss these matters during the further stages of the Transport Bill?

Mr. Macleod

With respect to the hon. Member, whose question I have answered before on business, there are opportunities, though not perhaps as extensive as he would wish, not only on the Transport Bill, but in connection with Supply time and private Members time, when the hon. Member might be fortunate to be called.

Mr. P. Williams

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is unhappiness about other passages of the Transport Bill, and particularly about Clause 54 with reference to coastal shipping? Can he give an undertaking that the Government's Amendments to this Clause will be tabled this week at a sufficiently early stage for them to be considered and to give the Minister time to consult the coastal shipping sections of the shipping industry in advance of any debate?

Mr. Macleod

I will certainly take that point up straight away with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport. My hon. Friend will realise that I have announced the business for the next ten days and that the Transport Bill is not included in that.

Mr. Driberg

Would the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that, on the occasions to which he has referred, such Measures as the Consolidated Fund Bill are quite often taken formally, by arrangement—no doubt to make time for debates on important topical issues—so that the matter is not quite as open as he has suggested? Would the right hon. Gentleman consider finding time for a debate on the Motion on the Order Paper in my name, and in the names of several of my hon. Friends, on nuclear testing and Mr. McNamara's evidence?

[That this House notes that Mr. Mc-Namara, United States Secretary of Defence, giving evidence before the House Armed Services Committee of the United States Congress on 25th January, 1962, strongly denied that the balance of nuclear power might shift to the Russians if testing were not resumed by the West; notes also that the possibility of such a shift was one of the main arguments for the resumption of testing put forward on and after 8th February, 1962, by the President of the United States and the Prime Minister; assumes that the United States Secretary of Defence, testifying officially before a committee of Congress, was fully informed of the facts of the situation, and that his strategic judgment is thought sound by the President who appointed him to office; considers that the discrepancy between Mr. McNamara's testimony and the official excuses for the decision to resume testing shows that this decision was based on political rather than on military or scientific grounds; considers, accordingly, that it was not only ethically unjustifiable but strategically unnecessary and, in view of the negotiations then to be begun, provocative; deplores the conduct of the Prime Minister in misleading the House by his statements on 31st October, 1961, and 8th February, 1962, in refusing adequately to answer a question on this matter on 29th March, 1962, and in referring to a view taken by Mr. McNamara as having been expressed some months later than his testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, when the dates of the contradictory statements were 25th January and 8th February; condemns the proposed carcinogenic tests over Christmas Island as acts of genocide and crimes against humanity, contrary to civilised standards of international behaviour and to traditional teaching on the Just War, under which the indiscriminate killing of innocent persons is forbidden; and calls on Her Majesty's Government immediately to initiate further consultations with the United States Administration, with a view to the cancellation of these tests.]

As the Motion contains an allegation, which I believe to be accurate, that the Prime Minister, no doubt inadvertently, misled the House on at least one point of fact, if the right hon. Gentleman cannot find time fox a debate, would he at least be good enough to ask the Prime Minister to make a further statement in order to clarify the matter?

Mr. Macleod

It is true that by a convention, which does not bind hon. Members, such arrangements are sometimes made on the Consolidated Fund Bill and the debate, by general agreement, is narrowed. On the other matter, I heard the exchange which the hon. Member had with the Prime Minister and I have read HANSARD and have studied the hon. Member's Motion. I certainly could not undertake to find time to discuss this Motion, and, of course, the Prime Minister has heard what the hon. Member has just said.

Mr. Peart

Would the right hon. Gentleman now find time for a debate on the Annual Agricultural Price Review? Is he not aware that it is customary to have such a debate? Is he not aware that this is not an agreed matter and that many hon. Members on both sides of the House would welcome a debate in view of the difficulties which small farmers will now experience?

Mr. Macleod

This matter is frequently debated in the House. Without giving any undertaking about Government time, or any other sort of time, I can say that this is, of course, a matter which we would be very ready to discuss between the two sides of the House.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Will the Leader of the House tell us whether he is still of the opinion that he cannot find time for the Motion in the name of the hon. Member for Solihull (Sir M. Lindsay), and whether we may safely assume that the hon. Member had been guillotined?

[That this House deplores the conduct of Lord Beaverbrook in authorising over the last few years in the newspapers controlled by him more than seventy adverse comments on members of the Royal Family who have no means of replying.]

Mr. Macleod

The first part of the hon. Member's observation is perfectly correct.