HC Deb 13 December 1962 vol 669 cc583-92
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, Sir. The business for next week will be as follows:

MONDAY, 17th DECEMBER.—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.

TUESDAY, 18th DECEMBER.—Supply [4th Allotted Day]: Motion to move Mr. Speaker out of the Chair, when a debate will arise on an Amendment to take note of the Eighth Report, 1961–62, and the Third Special Report from the Estimates Committee.

Second Reading of the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Bill [Lords], and the Betting Duties Bill [Lords], which are consolidation Measures.

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

WEDNESDAY, 19th DECEMBER.—Consideration of the General Grant Orders and Transitional Adjustments Regulations for England and Wales, and of the General Grant (Scotland) Orders.

Consideration of the Motion on the Motor Vehicles (Variation of Speed Limit) Regulations.

THURSDAY, 20th DECEMBER.—SeCOnd Reading of the British Museum Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

A debate on Pensions of the Armed Forces, on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House.

FRIDAY, 21st DECEMBER.—The House will rise for the Christmas Adjournment until Tuesday, 22nd January.

Mr. Gaitskell

Can the Leader of the House say on which day the Minister of Defence will be making a statement on Skybolt and his discussions with Mr. McNamara?

Mr. Macleod

I cannot commit him absolutely because, of course, he is in Paris now. But I hope that the statement will be made early in the week, on, say, Monday or Tuesday.

Mr. Grimond

Has the Leader of the House seen reports of a deterioration of the situation in the Congo? Will he discuss this matter with his colleagues so that the House may have a statement on this and on the attitude of Her Majesty's Government towards it before we rise for Christmas?

Mr. Macleod

There is a Motion on the Order Paper signed by a considerable number of hon. Members—I think a number of hon. Members on this side of the House—but all I can say on that is that the anxiety which that Motion reflects is very well understaood by the Government. The Foreign Secretary will be discussing these matters in Paris. Therefore, I think that we can leave the question of initiative to him.

Mr. F. M. Bennett

Might I, rather unexpectedly to me, reinforce a plea of the Leader of the Liberal Party by stressing that we might have rather more than a statement on the Congo and press for a debate on this subject before the House rises for Christmas? Does my right hon. Friend realise the widespread concern felt in this country about the threatened use of farce again to bring about a political settlement by the United Nations, a body which has spent years and years preaching self determination above all other considerations in obtaining settlements for the political futures of emergent peoples? Does he realise how much we feel a sense of repugnance about what may transpire?

Mr. Macleod

My hon. Friend will remember that I made it quite clear, speaking on behalf of the Government, that we fully understood the reasons why the Motion has been on the Order Paper.

I will, of course, convey to the Foreign Secretary and the Lord Privy Seal the question raised by the Leader of the Liberal Party and my hon. Friend.

Mr. Callaghan

May I call the attention of the Leader of the House to the fact that the Minister of Power comes last in the list for questioning next Monday and that today we have had a very important announcement about the possible take-over of Whiteheads, of Newport, by Stewart and Lloyds? In view of the repercussions that this could well have if the industry is concentrated on employment in South Wales, including the social repercussions, will the right hon. Gentleman ask the Minister of Power to make a statement on this, otherwise there will be no opportunity of raising it until, perhaps, the take-over has been concluded?

Mr. Macleod

On the general question, as the hon. Member perhaps knows, it is proposed that there should be some alteration in the roster of Questions which will affect the Minister of Power and which will be for the convenience of the House. On the particular question, I cannot promise that, but I will convey it to my right hon. Friend.

Mr. W. Yates

Can my right hon. Friend say whether he has observed that, so far, we have not had a statement from the Government or a debate about the situation in South-West Arabia, particularly the Yemen? Since the Foreign Secretary criticised me aid other hon. Members for going to the Yemen, could I suggest that criticisms of that nature are made on the Floor of the House and not in tittle-tattle at Conservative Party meetings upstairs?

May I also ask him whether he will ask the Foreign Secretary's mouthpiece on the Front Bench now to consider cooperating with the United States to recognise the Yemen so that we can have a debate, and debate it clearly, across the Floor of the House, and not upstairs?

Mr. Macleod

I would make it clear that I do not accept in any way the things that my hon. Friend has chosen to say about the Foreign Secretary or about those Ministers who speak on foreign affairs in this House.

It is well known that Her Majesty's Government take a different attitude from that of my hon. Friend about the situation in the Yemen. This does not, with respect, mean that Her Majesty's Government are wrong.

Mr. Greenwood

To help the Home Secretary make up his mind, may I ask the Leader of the House when he hopes to provide an opportunity for us to discuss the Motion standing on the Order Paper in the names of hon. Members on both sides of the House calling for legislation against race hatred and discrimination?

[That this House calls upon Her Majesty's Government to introduce legislation making the incitement of race hatred and discrimination an offence.]

Mr. Macleod

Not before Christmas. I have made it clear that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary is anxious to make a statement to the House on this matter, but thinks it right—and I think that the hon. Member will agree with this—that it should not be made until all the cases are disposed of.

Mr. Mason

May I call the attention of the Leader of the House to the Motion standing in the name of myself and the names of 114 other hon. Members asking the Government to change their policy and allow deceased Service men to be brought home for burial if their families request it? While I recognise that there is probably not time to debate this matter before the Christmas Recess, will the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that we can have a short debate on this topic shortly after we return?

[That this House views with great concern Her Majesty's Government's policy of burying deceased Service men abroad during peacetime; draws attention to the changed circumstances which will now allow all deceased Service men to be brought home if requested, by air trooping services, at little cost to Her Majesty's Government, thereby reducing distress to relatives, and causing unnecessary costs to families, and calls upon Her Majesty's Government to effect a change in this miserly and discriminatory attitude.]

Mr. Macleod

I cannot give that undertaking. There are, of course, the ordinary Christmas Adjournment debates for which, I think, Mr. Speaker has not yet made his selection.

Mr. Speaker

Yes, I have.

Mr. Kershaw

Can the Leader of the House say whether the Government are able to make any announcement about regulations or legislation concerning the number of people who have applied to stand for Parliament at by-elections in order to bring about a cessation of the scandal at Rotherham, which is bringing this House and the Armed Services into public contempt?

Mr. Macleod

I gave that undertaking at business time last week and I have confirmed that the Minister of Defence will make a statement on it before we rise next week.

Mr. H. Hynd

Has the right hon. Gentleman noticed the Motion standing in my name and the names of 60 other hon. Members on the question of railway superannuitants? As a statement about a settlement of the question was understood to be pending, is the right hon. Gentleman likely to be able to give us any news about this before Christmas?

[That this House welcomes the statement of the Government that it will introduce a new Pensions (Increase) Bill for public service pensioners, notes that the last Act was widely drawn to include most public service pensioners but that it still failed to bring in certain groups, such as railway superannuitants and former colonial servants, who have the same moral claims to recognition, and therefore urges Her Majesty's Government to devise ways and means of extending the benefits of its proposed legislation to all who have served the Government at home and abroad and who find that their pensions fail to match both the rise in the cost of living and comparable pensions now awarded for similar service.]

Mr. Macleod

No, Sir, I do not think so, before Christmas. As I understand the position, proposals are in front of my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport, but I do not think that it would be possible to make a statement before Christmas.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

May I add a further plea to that made by my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. F. M. Bennett) and the Leader of the Liberal Party and ask the Leader of the House, in relation to the intention that the House should rise on Friday of next week, whether he is aware that many of us would not want to go away for Christmas if there were a danger of Christmas being desecrated by yet another wanton United Nations attack on the people of Katanga?

Mr. Macleod

I think that I would prefer to rest on what I have said. Quite clearly, the Foreign Secretary will discuss this—perhaps he is discussing it at this moment. I am sure that I can, with confidence, leave this matter to him.

Mr. Wade

Referring to the subject of Katanga again—and so that there should be no misunderstanding of the view on the Liberal benches—may I ask the Leader of the House to draw the attention of the Foreign Secretary to a report in the Press today of a statement by an official of the British Consulate in Elisabethville to the effect that Katanga was determined not to surrender and that the whites were ready to blow the whole lot up? Surely it would not help towards a peaceful settlement if Her Majesty's Government appeared to be supporting Katanga in that attitude.

Mr. Speaker

We must confine ourselves to business in these matters, or we shall never get on.

Mr. C. Pannell

Does the Leader of the House recall that on Wednesday of last week the Report of the Select Committee on House of Lards Reform was ordered to be printed and that it was confidently expected in that Committee that the Report would be ready tomorrow? I can ascertain no firm date when it will be ready, so may we have an assurance that, in his office as Leader of the House, the right hon. Gentleman will take such action as he can to expedite something which we consider has been rather dilatorily done at the moment?

Mr. Macleod

It is rather difficult for me to reply to that question because, naturally, the House as a whole—and I am in no different position at all—has no official knowledge of this Report, or of a similar Report, until it is produced. But it will be a matter of only a few days and, certainly, it will be printed before we rise.

Mr. Pannell

On a point of order. I put it to you, Mr. Speaker, that the Leader of the House is quite off the beam here. Of course he has official knowledge of it. The Report was laid before the House. The Select Committee has finished with it and the House has ordered it to be printed. It is, therefore, the business of the Leader of the House to make inquiries. That is all I am asking him to do. I am merely asking when the Report is likely to be available. I have pointed out the dilatory nature of this business and the fact that it is at variance with the understanding we had. I merely asked the right hon. Gentleman to do something about it.

Mr. Macleod

I shall be very glad to look into this matter. So far as the almost constitutional point which the hon. Member makes is concerned, I am not sure that I necessarily agree with his analysis. Perhaps he will let me study it.

Mr. Driberg

While we are awaiting the statement by the Minister of Defence on his talks with Mr. McNamara, will the right hon. Gentleman try to arrange to have an urgent statement made on Skybolt, which might serve to clarify the situation at the conference in Paris, where, according to a report on the B.B.C. today, news correspondents are being given diametrically opposite and mutually hostile briefings by the British and American spokesmen?

Mr. Macleod

The hon. Member knows that statements on Fridays are always unsatisfactory. That is why I have given an undertaking that this statement would be made during the first day or two of next week.

Mr. D. Smith

Is the Leader of the House aware of the Motion on the Order Paper relating to the distribution of the rate burden? If so, will he consider providing time for a short debate on this subject in the new year, in view of the great importance of this matter to ratepayers?

[That this House, conscious of the necessary changes under the rating revaluation of premises due to come into force in April, 1963, believes that the time has now arrived for the rate burden to be spread more fairly amongst all citizens, for the financing of education to be transferred, by stages, to the national Exchequer, whilst retaining local control, and for a full inquiry into possible new methods of raising revenue for local government services.]

Mr. Macleod

At the moment I am dealing with the business before Christmas.

Mr. M. Foot

In support of what was said by the hon. Member for Cardiff, South-East (Mr. Callaghan) about a statement by the Minister of Power on the proposed, or suggested, take-over in the steel industry, would the Leader of the House urge very strongly upon the Minister of Power that he should make a statement about this most sinister possibility as early as possible during the week?

Will he also tell us when he proposes to take the Motion for the Adjournment of the House in case, by any chance, the Minister of Power has not made his statement prior to that moment?

Mr. Macleod

I understand that it is proposed to take that Motion on Tuesday. On the first point, I am very willing to make representations or to inform my right hon. Friend of the representations that have been made in the House, although, clearly, it is for him to decide whether he should make a statement or not.

Mr. Warbey

Could the Leader of the House tell us when he proposes to arrange for a debate on the Motion standing in the names of several right hon. and hon. Members on this side of the House, calling for a Select Committee to inquire into the conduct of the Government during the Cuban crisis? Is it not time that we had a debate to examine how the Government betrayed the people of this country during that period?

[That this House, noting the statement of the Foreign Secretary that, during the height of the Cuban crisis, the world was faced with the prospect of nuclear war; noting also the statement of the Prime Minister that at the climax of the crisis he assured President Kennedy of the full support of the British Government, thus exposing the people of Britain to the danger of annihilation without representation; calls for the appointment of a Select Committee to investigate the conduct of the Government in relation to the Cuban crisis, with particular reference to the working, during this period, of the arrangement for dual Anglo-American control of United States nuclear bases in Britain and of the general understanding for joint consultation on the use of American or British nuclear weapons anywhere in the world, and to make recommendations on the future use of American nuclear bases in British territory and on the political control of nuclear weapons by the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance.]

Mr. Macleod

I cannot think that that suggestion will be received with much enthusiasm in the House.

Mr. V. Yates

In reference to the disturbances two days ago at Dartmoor, in which five prisoners were seriously injured, may I ask the Leader of the House whether we have to wait until February before we can expect a statement on a disturbance of this nature in a prison?

Mr. Macleod

It is open to the hon. Member to put a Question down, but I will see that his point is conveyed to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.

Mr. Dalyell

May I ask the Leader of the House when he will find time for a debate on the Motion concerning the problems of the television industry and unemployment now standing on the Order Paper in the names of some of my hon. Friends?

[That this House, in view of the dismal propects for television manufacturers and component makers in areas of unemployment in the United Kingdom and in view of the fruitful research being carried out at the Mearnskirk Thompson Institute into educational television programmes in mathematics and English language for pupils in developing countries of the Commonwealth, urges Her Majesty's Government to present two television sets to each secondary school and one television set to each primary school over the next 16 months in areas of the Commonwealth and Colonies where educational programmes are being transmitted.]

Mr. Macleod

Any matter that affects unemployment will, presumably, be in order in the debate which we shall be having on Monday on an Opposition Motion.

Sir H. Studholme

With reference to the question asked by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. V. Yates) about Dartmoor Prison, may I say that I have put down a Written Question to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary on that very point?

Mr. Speaker

I should inform the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) that now is the time for him to raise any complaint of Privilege.

Mr. V. Yates

On a point of order. May I take it that what the hon. Member for Tavistock (Sir H. Studholme) has said about a Written Question does not rule out my request for a statement to be made to the House?

Mr. Speaker

Unless I have it wrong, the hon. Member asked a Question of the Leader of the House, to which he made a reply. That is so, is it not?

Mr. Yates

Yes, Mr. Speaker, but, with respect, the hon. Member for Tavistock has referred to the fact that he has put down a Question for Written Answer. This cannot be discussed in the House, and I am asking whether the Leader of the House will arrange for a statement to be made in the House next week on this major disturbance in the prison?

Mr. Speaker

I thought that that was the Question which the hon. Member had asked, and that it had been answered. The hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) will be in order now in pursuing the matter which he raised with me.