HC Deb 06 December 1962 vol 668 cc1501-10
Mr. Gaitskell

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

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

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

MONDAY, 10TH DECEMBER and TUESDAY, 11TH DECEMBER—Second Reading of the London Government Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

At the end of the proceedings on the Bill on Monday, consideration of the Motion on the International Coffee Organisation (Immunities and Privileges) Order, and on Tuesday, the Motions on the Police Pensions Regulations, and Summer Time.

WEDNESDAY, 12TH DECEMBER—Consideration of private Members' Motions until seven o'clock.

Second Reading of the County Courts (Jurisdiction) Bill.

Remaining stages of the Foreign Compensation Bill, of the Towyn Trewan Common Bill, and of the Electricity (Borrowing Powers) (Scotland) Bill, which, if not obtained, will be put down for

THURSDAY, 13TH DECEMBER, when the business will be the Second Reading of the Local Government (Financial Provisions) (Scotland) Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

And, at seven o'clock, a debate on the Common Market, on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Consideration of the Motion on the British Transport Reorganisation (Compensation to Employees) Regulations.

FRIDAY, 14TH DECEMBER—Consideration of private Members' Motions.

MONDAY, 17TH DECEMBER—The proposed business will be: Supply [3rd Allotted Day]: Motion to move Mr. Speaker out of the Chair, when a debate will arise on an Opposition Amendment relating to Unemployment.

Consideration of the Motion on the Anti-Dumping Duty (No. 2) Order.

The House will wish to know that, subject to the progress of business, it is intended to propose that we should rise for the Christmas Adjournment on Friday, 21st December, until Tuesday, 22nd January.

Mr. A. Lewis

In view of the fact that the London Government Bill vitally affects the constituencies of every hon. member in Middlesex, Surrey, London and parts of Essex, may I ask the Minister whether he thinks that a two-day debate is adequate? There are many hon. Members on both sides of the House who wish to take part in that debate. If we have four Front Bench speakers, two from each side on each day, there will be insufficient time for all those other hon. Members who wish to take part in the debate. Cannot the right hon. Gentleman give another day to the subject, shortening our Christmas holiday, if need be, by one day?

Mr. Macleod

It is a most important Bill, perhaps the most important and probably the most controversial of the domestic Bills of this Session. It is exactly for that reason that we have put down two days. I should not have thought it right to extend that period.

Mr. M. Stewart

In view of what the Leader of the House has just said about the nature of the Bill, does he not agree that the Government should give favourable consideration to the proposal that the Committee stage be taken on the Floor of the House?

Mr. Macleod

No, Sir. I have considered that matter very carefully indeed, as well as the various other proposals which have been made. I have a suggestion which I think may help. After considering the representations which have been made, and realising that Clause 1 and the First Schedule are perhaps the matters of greatest interest to hon. Members whose constituencies are affected, the Government propose to put down a Motion today that Clause I and the First Schedule be taken on the floor of the House.

Dame Irene Ward

In view of the fact that we were unable to discuss Service pensions yesterday, will my right hon. Friend be able to give us time to do so before the House rises for the Christmas Adjournment?

Mr. Macleod

Yes. I hope to be able to do that during the last three days of business, which I have not yet announced.

Mr. Wigg

The right hon. Gentleman will have noticed that one of the consequences of the break-down in the Government's manpower policy for the Ser- vices is that there are 120 applications in one constituency from men who propose to stand as candidates. He will have noticed that inspired stories have appeared in the Press to the effect that the Government intend to introduce legislation on the subject. Will he tell us when, or whether, it is intended to take it before Christmas?

Mr. Macleod

I can tell the House that the Minister of Defence proposes to make a statement to the House on this important matter before we rise for Christmas.

Mr. Robert Cooke

Will the Leader of the House tell us when we may expect the White Paper on Broadcasting and Television?

Mr. Macleod

Before we rise for the Recess. I think that in the first day or so of the week after next.

Mr. Driberg

Further to the question about the London Government Bill, in view of what has been said by the right hon. Gentleman himself and some of my hon. Friends, would he at least consider suspending the rule for one hour on the first of the two days, if there are a very large number of hon. Members on both sides trying to speak in the debate?

Mr. Macleod

I am always prepared to consider that if there is a demand for it. I have expressed an opinion previously that a suspension of one hour is, in many cases, the least satisfactory form of debate. But I am prepared to consider that if there is a widespread demand.

Mr. Stewart

While I appreciate what the right hon. Gentleman said about the Committee stage of the Bill, will he consider, for the rest of the Bill, tabling a Motion which would have the effect of enlarging the Committee from the ordinary figure of a maximum of 50 to, say, 70 or 80?

Mr. Macleod

I am not sure that that would be very suitable. If we were to do it on the basis of including every hon. Member in the whole area whose constituency is affected and, at the same time, preserve the ordinary balance of the parties in the House, the total of the Committee would be about 175. Clearly, that is impracticable. It is precisely for this reason that I put forward the suggestion which, as far as it goes, I gather would be welcomed by the hon. Member, although he would like it to go a great deal further—that we should take Clause 1 and the First Schedule on the Floor of the House.

Mr. Lagden

Will the Leader of the House kindly tell us when we may look forward to discussing the Royal Commission on the Police, having regard to the fact that for such a very long time so many responsible people have sheltered behind the fact that the Royal Commission was sitting? Now that we have at last had the benefit of their advice, would it not be as well to let the House of Commons dicsuss it?

Mr. Macleod

As my hon. Friend has seen, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has announced action in this matter. It is proceeding. I know that he is anxious to debate this matter. We will consider the position in the new year.

Mr. Gaitskell

Will the Leader of the House seriously consider the proposal of my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart) about the size of the Committee? Is he aware that as far as we are concerned we think that the whole of the London Government Bill should be taken on the Floor of the House? While we appreciate what the right hon. Gentleman intends to do in moving a Motion to secure that Clause 1 and the First Schedule are taken on the Floor of the House, we are also concerned about the rest of the Bill. It would at least go some way to meet us if he enlarged the Committee, as has been proposed.

Mr. Macleod

I will consider that, as long as it is understood to be entirely without commitment.

Mr. Fernyhough

May I refer to the business for Monday week? The Leader of the House knows that this is a problem which is agitating the country more than any other single problem at the moment. Many hon. Members will want to take part in the debate. Could he give more time than a single day for discussing what is the biggest social problem now confronting the nation?

Mr. Macleod

That is an Opposition day, and the Opposition Amendment Which we shall discuss has not yet been tabled. I think that we had better see what it is and then decide.

Mr. Iremonger

Will my right hon. Friend look at the HANSARD report of the Committee stage debate on the Local Government Act in 1957–58 and consider whether, in view of what happened on that occasion, it might not be desirable, in the interests of Government supporters and those who are interested in the later stages of the Bill, that la timetable fairly allocating time for various Clauses were decided upon early in the proceedings?

Mr. Lubbock

Has the Leader of the House had consultations with the Minister of Aviation on the subject of the supersonic airliner, as that Minister promised on 29th November?

Mr. Macleod

I cannot give any undertaking about finding time before Christmas for such a debate, but I think that the hon. Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) has put down this subject for the Adjournment.

Mr. Prentice

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider arranging a debate before the Recess, or fairly soon afterwards, on the White Paper, published yesterday, on industrial training? Is he aware that many hon. Members on this side of the House are glad to see that a few of our ideas [have belatedly been accepted, that we have much more advice to give, and that we should like a debate on this subject fairly soon?

Mr. Macleod

It could not be before Christmas. It is an important White Paper, which the House will wish to study.

Mr. Bellenger

Does the Leader of the House consider that from 7.0 p.m. on Thursday until the end of the proceedings is sufficient to enable those large number of backbenchers who want to take part in the debate on the Common Market to do so?

Mr. Macleod

We have had some discussion on these matters. This is, in fact, almost the only day on which the Lord Privy Seal will be in this country at all during the period which we are covering. Perhaps I should tell the House what is proposed. If the House is agreeable, at 7.0 p.m., the Lord Privy Seal would make a short statement on the progress of the negotiations up to that point and would then listen to the debate, including, I hope, a number of very short speeches, and would make a reply to the debate before 10.0 p.m.

Mr. Warbey

Will the right hon. Gentleman think again about the Common Market debate? Now that the negotiations have reached a point at which all the cards are on the table, and when we have to make up our minds whether to go on with the wedding or break off the engagement, is it not rather ridiculous that the House of Commons should be confined to a three-hour debate?

Mr. Macleod

With respect, I do not think so. We had a number of debates on the subject, and, quite clearly, we shall have more. The object of this debate was that the Lord Privy Seal would be able to make a statement and then, as the Motion was on the Adjournment of the House, speeches could go on until 10 p.m. My right hon. Friend would reply at the end of the debate.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Will the right hon. Gentleman find an early day for the House to deal with my Motion asking that references to the Select Committee on Procedure should include an item altering the rules of the House which at present enable private Members to defeat a Private Member's Bill simply by saying "I object", without even having read the Bill? Will he find an opportunity for an early discussion on that? It is important, in view of the large number of Private Members' Bills which are pending.

[That this House takes note of the power which at present enables one hon. Member to frustrate or postpone or defeat another Private Member's Bill by simply indicating on Second Reading his objection without giving reasons and without having read the Bill, and would welcome the reference of this matter to a Select Committee on Procedure for their consideration.]

Mr. Macleod

The Select Committee on Procedure is at present considering the very important matter of the sub judice rule. When it has considered its examination of that, it will consider a programme of future work, and among the applications for a place in that will be the hon. and learned Member's suggestion.

Mr. Zilliacus

Will not the Leader of the House think again about the time allotted for the Common Market debate? Will he not contemplate suspending the rule for one hour, so that we could at least talk until 11 p.m.?

Mr. Macleod

I will consider that if representations are made, but this is clearly one in a series of debates which we have had and will have on this subject.

Mr. Rankin

In view of the question of the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock), may I ask him to subscribe his name to my request for time on the Christmas Adjournment to discuss the supersonic airliner?

Mr. Speaker

Order. That request is out of order.

Mr. Macleod

It may be out of order, but—

Mr. Speaker

The whole thing is hopelessly out of order. We shall have difficulty with business questions unless hon. Members treat the subject properly.

Mr. Rankin

I said that, Mr. Speaker, merely because sometimes a number of hon. Members have made application for the Adjournment on these occasions.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I do not regard anything that the hon. Member for Glasgow. Govan (Mr. Rankin) has been doing in the last few moments as in order at all. Mrs. Castle.

Mr. Rankin

On a point of order. Ms. Speaker, you called me and I merely made a supplementary remark—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I have the interests of other right hon. and hon. Members to consider. I called the hon. Member for Govan in the hope that he intended to ask a question of the Leader of the House. He did not do so, and what followed on his part was wholly out of order.

Mrs. Castle

May I add my plea to that made by my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Zilliacus) that the Leader of the House should give us until eleven o'clock on the Common Market debate? Although it is true that we have had a number of debates on this subject, some of us have tried in vain to speak in even one of those debates, and will probably face the same frustration again next week unless the right hon. Gentleman agrees to extend the time.

Mr. Macleod

I have said that I would consider the representations made.

Mr. Reynolds

In considering the provision of time for the London Government Bill, will the Leader of the House bear in mind that the Bills setting up the London County Council and the Metropolitan boroughs were, in their time, both discussed in Committee on the Floor of the House, and that this Bill is equally important? Will he also look at my proposal to give the same sort of facilities in this kind of matter to hon. Members representing 8½ million people in the Greater London area as are granted year in and year out to hon. Members representing a much smaller number of people in Scotland and Wales?

Mr. Macleod

I will consider that but, of course, as the hon. Gentleman knows, seventy or eighty years ago, the time to which he refers, a great deal more time was available, because our proceedings were much more leisurely than they are now.

Mr. A. Lewis

While appreciating what the right hon. Gentleman says about the London Government Bill, may I ask him to explain the necessity to close the debate early on the Monday, the first day of the debate? Those hon. Members not interested, because their constituencies are not affected, need not come from the North on that day, but there are those who are interested, and I am told that my hon, Friends will be quite prepared to keep the debate going all night, and would have no difficulty at all in doing so. There must be some hon. Members opposite who would be willing and give their views on the first night. There cannot be a vote on the Monday night, so why finish the debate early? Acceptance of my proposal would give to every hon. Member who wanted it the chance to take part in the debate.

Mr. Macleod

I think that I have covered that point. I have undertaken to take into account the points made by the hon. Member and by the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. F. M. Bennett

Can my right hon. Friend say whether we shall soon have an opportunity to hear a statement from the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations about the Sino-Indian situation which, if followed by a debate, would at least give opportunity to those hon. Members opposite below the Gangway the opportunity to vent their attacks on Communist aggression, for which they have been waiting so patiently?