HC Deb 15 February 1962 vol 653 cc1516-22
Mr. Gaitskell

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will announce the business 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, 19TH FEBRUARY—Committee and remaining stages of the Consolidated Fund Bill.

It is proposed then to initiate a debate on a Government Motion to take note of the White Paper on London Government (Command No. 1562).

I understand that the Chairman of Ways and Means proposes to set down the London County Council (General Powers) Bill for Second Reading at seven o'clock that evening.

TUESDAY, 20TH FEBRUARY—Conclusion of the debate on London Government.

Consideration of the Motion to approve the Double Taxation Relief (Taxes on Income) (Malta) Order, 1961.

WEDNESDAY, 21ST FEBRUARY—Education Bill: Report and Third Reading.

At seven o'clock, private Members' Motions will be considered.

THURSDAY, 22ND FEBRUARY—Commonwealth Immigrants Bill: Progress with the remaining stages.

FRIDAY, 23RD FEBRUARY—Consideration of Private Members' Bills.

MONDAY, 26TH FEBRUARY—The proposed business will be: Second Reading of the South Africa Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

Before I sit dawn, I should like to say with what sadness we have all heard of the death of Lord Dalton, who was for so long a tremendous figure in our political life. He was a man of strong opinions who gave great service to his country and to his party, and his outstanding abilities were widely recognised and respected. I should like to pay tribute to his memory.

Mr. Gaitskell

On this side of the House, we are grateful to the Leader of the House for what he has just said about our old friend. We think of him here a man who spent twenty-five years of his life in the House of Commons, although he was out of the House for a few years between 1931 and 1935. We recall his speeches both from the back benches and from the Government and Opposition Front Benches and his relaxed but robust performances. We think of him, too, as an ebullient personality who enriched our proceedings and whose place in history is secure.

Mr. Grimond

I should like to associate myself with what has been said about Lord Dalton. Many of us who disagreed with his policies had deep affection and respect for the man himself.

Mr. Speaker

Questions about business. Mr. Lipton.

Mr. Lipton

May I ask the Leader of the House what exactly he meant when he spoke about the Report stage and further progress on the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill next Thursday? Is the right hon. Gentleman hoping to dispose of the Report stage and Third Reading in one day?

Mr. Macleod

No, Sir. Two days have been allocated by the Allocation of Time Motion for Report and Third Reading and the business on Thursday, 22nd February, will be preceded by a Report from the Business Committee, suggesting how those two days should be allocated; in other words, whether Report should take one day and Third Reading one day, or whatever is suggested. This will be before the House before a decision is taken.

Sir R. Cary

In view of the decision taken in another place on Thursday on the Manchester Corporation Bill, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he will consider finding time in the immediate future for a debate on the Proud-man Report on the Growing Demand for Water, particularly as the main recommendation of that Report suggests that the matter ought to be dealt with centrally and by the Government themselves? Is my right hon. Friend aware that many authorities are the prisoners of statutes passed by Parliament, that they have to supply water to an ever-increasing number of authorities, and that at least their case ought to be heard by Parliament?

Mr. Macleod

I agree that the Proud-man Report is important, but it has only been published two weeks. It is being urgently studied by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government and he is giving special attention to the recommendation that legislation should follow.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

Has the right hon. Gentleman noted that a very substantial number of hon. Members from both sides of the House have signed a Motion calling for a world security authority?

[That this House, noting the numerous areas of likely conflict in the world and the need to prevent them exacerbating the main ideological conflict, and noting the effort made by the United Nations in Sinai and Congo, believes that such efforts would be more effective, were they to be within a framework of law enforcement known in advance, and to this end urges that Her Majesty's Government should propose at the United Nations that an autonomous commission should be set up to explore and report on the creation of a permanent force with an individually recruited personnel owing allegiance direct to the United Nations and paid by it, and whose prime purpose would be the enforcement, in areas where it was directed to operate, of laws preventing the ownership use or manufacture of arms, or the incitement to such, except by consent of the United Nations and in fulfilment of the United Nations' force's task of preventing violation of frontiers; and that Her Majesty's Government should announce in advance that if acceptable proposals were to result, it would give its support and supply bases and personnel.]

Would the right hon. Gentleman consider giving some time to debate this matter so that our negotiators might go to Geneva reinforced with the opinion of the House, and put forward the constructive ideas contained in the Motion?

Mr. Macleod

I will study that. We have frequently from time to time wide-ranging debates on foreign affairs in the House in which these matters are obviously in order.

Sir J. Pitman

I should like to support that request still further on the ground that the Motion goes right to the root of what is to be debated at the eighteen-Power conference and the whole of the disarmament issue, in that we have got absolutely nowhere with disarmament, and the ideas in the Motion seem to offer the only possible hope of progress in the future.

Mrs. Braddock

Could the Leader of the House find a little time next week to make a statement about the change in the employment of women cleaners in some of the Government offices? Is he aware that this is causing great concern, that it looks as if a complete change of policy has taken place and that the cleaning of Government offices is to be handed over to a private firm? Would he make some reference to this situation so that the women affected may have some information?

Mr. Macleod

I should like to inform myself fully about that. I have seen a Question on the Order Paper for a fairly early date when, no doubt, the matter will be dealt with.

Mr. K. Lewis

In view of the fact that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has very generously provided two days to discuss London government, may I ask whether, so that I might emphasise that there are other smaller places, he will provide me with just half a day to draw attention to the need to preserve the independence of Rutland?

Mrs. Slater

Reverting to the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Exchange (Mrs. Braddock), may I also ask the Leader of the House to consider the point that she made? Is he aware that the Question referred to has been transferred from the Order Paper for next week to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, whose turn to answer Oral Questions is a long time ahead? In the meantime, these women are losing their jobs and suffering as a result.

Mr. Macleod

This does not arise on the business which I have announced for next week, but in view of what the hon. Lady the Member for Liverpool, Exchange (Mrs. Braddock) and the hon. Lady the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Mrs. Slater) have said, I will discuss this with my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mr. Warbey

Can the Leader of the House say when the House will have an opportunity of discussing the Government's hospitals plan which, at least for some areas, is not so much a plan as a promise of pie in the sky?

Mr. Macleod

It is, in fact, a plan which has been very widely welcomed and we must debate it in the House. I give that assurance. If hon. Members would like a little more time to study it, which probably would be wise, we could discuss it in the ordinary way in a subsequent debate.

Commander Donaldson

Would my right hon. Friend apply the same thinking to the plan for Scotland, which is not completely agreed upon among Scottish hon. Members on both aides of the House?

Mr. Macleod

I will certainly consider that.

Mr. M. Foot

In view of the general and deep concern throughout the country about the proposed nuclear tests in Nevada and on Christmas Island, may I ask the Leader of the House when there will be a debate on the subject? Can he give us an assurance that there will be a debate specifically on the question of tests and that full time will be given to it so that the House may decide and vote before any action is taken in proceeding with the tests?

Mr. Macleod

It is, of course, of the very first importance, but I think that we had better proceed in the usual way—which is that if an approach were made on this matter I would be very glad to discuss it.

Mr. P. Browne

Will my right hon. Friend find time for a debate on the Jack Committee's Report on Rural Transport? We have had nothing but evasion from the Minister of Transport. Three months ago he said that he would consult with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House about the provision of Government time for a debate, but nothing happened. Is my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House aware that the only debate we had was on the initiative of a back bencher?

Mr. Macleod

I read the exchanges on the Jack Report a day or two ago—indeed, I also heard them. But I regret to say that I see no prospect, at this time of the year, of Government time for this subject. There was, of course, the debate which, as my hon. Friend has pointed out, took place some time ago.

Mr. J. Robertson

In view of the large increase in unemployment-41,000, of which 15,000 are in Scotland—and of the difficulties created in Scotland and, no doubt, in the north-east and northwest of England, will the right hon. Gentleman find time soon for a discussion on the distribution of industry?

Mr. Macleod

I think that that is a subject which, in the first place, might very well form a suitable occasion for a Supply day.

Dame Irene Ward

On the question of the "Mrs. Mops", who are friends of all of us, may I ask my right hon. Friend whether he will bear in mind that this matter affects both sides of the House? Will he also bear in mind that I should not much like to see the "Mrs. Mops" having to bear the first brunt of any economies? Would it not be a good thing if economies of this kind were discussed with women Members on both sides of the House before the Government started getting busy with widows?

Mr. Macleod

I am slightly unnerved by the barrage I have had from both before and behind on this subject. I think that I had better stick to saying that I will discuss it with my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there is already on the Order Paper a Motion condemning the Government's proposals for nuclear tests in Nevada and on Christmas Island?

[That this House strongly condemns the action of Her Majesty's Government in agreeing to United States nuclear tests on Christmas Island.]

Will he give an assurance that the House will have an opportunity of considering this on a Government Motion, in such a way that every hon. Member will be able to cast his votes freely and that we will not be side-tracked as we were in the case of the Polaris agreeement?

Mr. Macleod

I have a feeling that that observation was addressed more to the hon. Member's own Front Bench than to me.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

No. It was to the right hon. Gentleman.