HC Deb 25 January 1962 vol 652 cc407-12
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. In consequence of requests made on Tuesday, the business on MONDAY, 29TH JANUARY, will be Supply [5th Allotted Day]:

Committee stage of the Civil Supplementary Estimate for the Ministry of Health and the Department of Health for Scotland, which it is proposed to take formally.

A debate on the effects of Government policy on industrial relations will take place on an Opposition Motion.

The business for the remainder of the week will be as follows:

TUESDAY, 30TH JANUARY—Report and Third Reading of the Local Government (Financial Provisions, etc.) (Scotland) Bill.

Committee and Remaining Stages of the Forth and Clyde Canal (Extinguishment of Rights of Navigation) Bill.

Further consideration of the Motion to approve the British Broadcasting Corporation Licence and Agreement.

WEDNESDAY, 31ST JANUARY and THURSDAY, 1ST FEBRUARY—Further consideration of the Army Reserve Bill.

FRIDAY, 2ND FEBRUARY—Consideration of private Members' Motions.

MONDAY, 5TH FEBRUARY—The proposed business will be a debate, at the request of the Opposition, on the Foreign Secretary's speech at Berwick-on-Tweed on 28th December, 1961.

Mr. Gaitskell

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for accepting our proposal to defer consideration of the reorganisation of London government, and for allowing us a Supply day in its place. As for the Motion on London government, if I recollect correctly the right hon. Gentleman told us that when the debate took place it would be on a Motion to take note of Her Majesty's Government's proposals. Yesterday, there appeared on the Order Paper a Motion, under the names of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Housing and Local Government, and a number of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, in terms that: This House approves the proposals of Her Majesty's Government. Can the right hon. Gentleman clear up the position? What is the Motion to be?

Mr. Macleod

The debate will be as I announced, on a Motion to take note. It is quite true that, as between that announcement and the Motion which appeared on the Order Paper yesterday—and which has since disappeared—there is a terminological discrepancy.

Mr. Gaitskell

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us when the President of the Board of Trade is to make his statement on the take-over bid of I.C.I. for Courtaulds?

Mr. G. Brown

And can he say which will be the authoritative one—the first or the second?

Mr. Macleod

Assuming that any investigations which may be necessary are completed in time—and I have every reason to expect that they will be—it will be made either on Monday or Tuesday.

Mr. M. Stewart

The right hon. Gentleman mentioned that the Motion to approve the London government proposals has disappeared from the Order Paper. Can he say why there was not put on the Order Paper—as I believe is the usual practice—a notice of withdrawal of that Motion? Did the Government overlook that, too?

Mr. Macleod

No, Sir. That does not have to happen when a Motion is put down and then withdrawn by the Government.

Mr. Nabarro

Does my right hon. Friend recall that, shortly before the Christmas Recess, he gave my hon. Friends and myself an assurance that he would put down this Session a Motion concerning House of Lords reform in terms not dissimilar to the Motion which lapsed at the end of the last Session? Can he say whether that Motion will be set down next week, with or without the approval of the Leader of the Opposition?

Mr. Macleod

There have been discussions on the matter, which, I think, are completed. I cannot absolutely guarantee that the Motion will be put down next week, but it will certainly be put down within a week or two, at the most.

Mr. S. Silverman

The right hon. Gentleman has said that the Army Reserve Bill will be taken on two days next week. Can he say when it is proposed to take the further stages of the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill? I must disclose an interest in the matter. It will be remembered that Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the days for private Members' Notices of Motions of Bills under the Ten Minutes Rule, and that the Standing Order is that these cannot be taken on days when business which is subject to a guillotine Motion is being taken. As I have given notice of one such Bill for Wednesday, 7th February, I should like to be assured that I shall not be deprived of my right in order to assist the Government's guillotine Motion.

Mr. Macleod

It is true that it is a normal feature of guillotine Motions that Ten Minutes Rule Bills are not taken on the allotted days. I have not announced any business to do with the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill as far ahead as Monday week. I cannot give any details, but I will bear in mind the point raised by the hon. Member.

Mr. F. Harris

Can my right hon. Friend say whether it is the Government's intention to have a debate on Kenya prior to the constitutional discussions which are due to take place in February?

Mr. Macleod

I doubt whether it will be possible to find time for that.

Mr. K. Robinson

Is it the Government's intention to find a day to debate the Minister of Health's White Paper on Hospitals? If so, when is it likely to be?

Mr. Macleod

I cannot say when it will be, but it is a matter of such great interest to everybody that I am sure that we shall debate it at some time.

Mr. Rankin

Does the Leader of the House remember giving me a promise on two separate days before the Christmas Recess that he would find time to debate the Toothill Report, which is a Government production? Can he say whether he has any further assurances to give now, or can he give a date?

Mr. Macleod

I cannot add to what I have said on earlier occasions about the Toothill Report.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Is it not the case that the House has never debated the subject of Kenya since the conference at Lancaster House, and all that has happened since? Would it not be quite wrong that any further great changes should take place in Kenya before the opinion of this House has been consulted?

Mr. Macleod

I will consult my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary on the points that have been raised on this matter. So far as I remember, however, it has not been the custom for a long time past—and I can see great disadvantages in it—to have a debate in the House immediately prior to a constitutional conference opening in London.

Mr. Strachey

Can the Minister say when we shall have a statement or debate on Northern Rhodesia and the constitutional developments there?

Mr. Macleod

The Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies answered that question two days ago, and I have nothing to add."

Mr. Mellish

I gather that on Tuesday of next week we are to have a full day's debate on Scotland. This will be yet another debate on this part of Great Britain, although Northern Ireland has far worse economic problems. When shall we have a debate on Northern Ireland?

Mr. Macleod

I cannot include it in the programme that I have so far announccd, but I am sure that the hon. Member will not let me forget it.

Mrs. Castle

In view of the fact that the Courtaulds-I.C.I. merger, if allowed to take place, will encourage a dividends race and thus affect the atmosphere of industrial relations, will the Leader of the House ensure that the President of the Board of Trade makes his statement by Monday, so that we can have the Government's policy in mind for that day's debate?

Mr. Macleod

I do not accept what the hon. Lady says, but unless something quite unforeseen occurs my right hon. Friend will make a statement not later than Tuesday. I cannot promise that it will be made on Monday, but it will be made either on Monday or Tuesday.

Mr. Jay

Since it was as long ago as 21st December—more than a month ago—that hon. Members on this side of the House first asked the Government to institute an inquiry into this proposed I.C.I.-Courtaulds merger, and as hopes had been held out of a statement today, can the right hon. Gentleman say why the Government are in their usual state of indecision?

Mr. Macleod

With respect, the right hon. Gentleman is quite wrong. The President of the Board of Trade said that the statement would be made either today or early next week, and what I have said today is in no way inconsistent with that.

Mr. Strachey

Cannot the Minister enlarge a little on the answer given by the Under-Secretary of State on the subject of Northern Rhodesia? The Under-Secretary simply said "shortly". Cannot we know what that means? Why has the matter been held up for so long, since last July?

Mr. Macleod

I cannot add to the answer given by the Under-Secretary. The word "shortly" is a term of Parliamentary art, and I do not think that I can define it more exactly.

Mrs. Castle

Is not it intolerable that this House should be expected to discuss industrial relations on Monday, and the Government's high-handed and arbitrary dictation to the wage-earners, without knowing whether they are prepared to be equally tough in relation to big business and its pursuit of dividends?

Mr. Macleod

I am sorry. I apologise to the hon. Lady. I had not appreciated the connection between that statement and Monday's debate. My right hon. Friend will try to make a statement on Monday. I cannot promise, but I wanted to make clear that it will be either on Monday or on Tuesday.