HC Deb 05 July 1962 vol 662 cc693-703
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, 9TH JULY—We shall ask the House to approve a Timetable Motion for the completion of the Committee and remaining stages of the Pipe-lines Bill [Lords].

At seven o'clock, as the House is aware, the Chairman of Ways and Means has set down opposed Private Business for consideration.

TUESDAY, 10TH JULY—Supply [23rd Allotted Day]: Committee.

There will be a debate on Education in Scotland, which will arise on the appropriate Votes.

Afterwards, Second Reading of the Building Societies Bill [Lords], and of the Town and Country Planning Bill [Lords], which are consolidation Measures.

Motions on Importation and Keeping Orders on Coypus and Mink.

WEDNESDAY, I I TH JULY—Report and Third Reading of the Licensing (Scot. land) Bill [Lords].

THURSDAY, 12TH JULY—Supply [24th Allotted Day]: Committee.

A debate will take place on Science and Industry, on the appropriate Votes.

House of Commons Members' Fund Bill: Committee and remaining stages.

Motions on the Cinematograph Films (Distribution of Levy) Regulations, and the Commonwealth Preference (West Cameroon) Order.

FRIDAY, 13TH JULY—Motion On the National Assistance (Determination of Need) Amendment Regulations, 1962.

MONDAY, I 6TH JULY—The proposed business will be:

Second Reading of the Uganda Independence Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

Committee and remaining stages of the Building Societies Bill [Lords], and the Town and Country Planning Bill [Lords].

Motions on the White Fish and Herring and Salmon Schemes and Orders.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this habit of introducing guillotine Motions is really becoming intolerable? How many more are we to have? How many have we had already? Is not this the fourth this Session? What conceivable justification can there be for gagging hon. Members of this House in this way?

I have a number of other questions to put to the right hon. Gentleman. First, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is aware that as Thursday's debate will take place on the appropriate Votes we hope that it will cover—we intend that it shall cover— science in the universities as well? "Science and industry" was the phrase that he used.

The right hon. Gentleman is proposing that we should take the National Assistance Regulations on Friday. He will recall that the other day his right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance, in reply to requests from hon. Members on this side of the House and, indeed, on both sides, that the date on which the increased payments became operative should be advanced, pleaded in aid that it would take too long to get the whole thing through the House? My right hon. Friend the Deputy Leader of the Opposition then promised that we would facilitate the passage of the Regulations.

In view of that promise, and of the fact that the Regulations are to go through next Friday, will the right hon. Gentleman undertake to reconsider the question of the date of operation to see whether this cannot be brought into effect, or the amounts cannot be paid, a long way in advance of 24th September?

Finally, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman to make clear whether the Motion on the White Fish and Herring and Salmon Schemes and Orders, for debate on Monday week, includes the question of a subsidy for fishing vessels built in foreign ports, and whether, therefore, we shall be able to have a really full debate on that subject?

Mr. Macleod

We shall be discussing the merits of the timetable Motion on Monday, but I am bound to say that I have never seen any Leader of the Opposition face a Guillotine as cheerfully as did the right hon. Gentleman on this occasion. Whatever the merits of the Motion, nobody could have been very surprised by the announcement which I have made.

I have noted what the right hon. Gentleman said about Thursday's business and can say that Government speakers will reply accordingly.

To meet the desire of the House we have put the National Assistance Regulations on at the earliest possible date. They will have been scrutinised by the Select Committee, but they must go through another place. The question whether this could conceivably affect the date of the bringing into operation of the Regulations was discussed by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions and National Assistance when he made his statement in the House. No doubt he will deal with the matter fully on Thursday.

On Monday, 16th July, it may be that the earlier business will not occupy the House for very long and that we shall spend a good deal of the day on the Motion to which I have referred. I think that the answer to the specific point put by the Leader of the Opposition is that the matter to which he referred comes into, but only indirectly, the discussions.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is the Leader of the House aware that his right hon. Friend rested his refusal to advance the date of the operation of the new National Assistance Regulations entirely on the difficulty of getting them through both Houses of Parliament? Is he aware that there is no reason whatever to anticipate any delay in another place about this matter? Will he therefore at least ask his right hon. Friend seriously to consider advancing the date? I am sure that that would be consistent with the wishes of hon. Members on this side of the House and of many hon. Members opposite as well.

Mr. Macleod

The interval of time is perfectly normal. I do not think that the recollection of the Leader of the Opposition is correct. When the Minister answered this point on 3rd July, he said: Although we can, of course, discuss the date when we debate the Regulations, my own view—and I must put this frankly to hon. Members—is that this is, not only for administrative reasons but from the more important social point of view"— my right hon. Friend had elaborated that earlier— just about right".—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 3rd July, 1962; Vol. 662, c. 290.]

Sir J. Pitman

Is it possible to deal with the early day Motion in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham (Mr. R. Carr) in respect of monopolise created by take-over bids? My right hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan) received an assurance on a previous Thursday which was rather encouraging, and since the House is very anxious to discuss the fact that the Government have no powers in this matter may I ask whether we shall have a chance to debate that Motion?

[That this House, concerned at the need for providing adequate safeguards against monopoly, urges the Government to ensure that it has the requisite powers for this purpose, and meanwhile to support and provide time for the consideration of the Bill presented by the honourable Member for Bath.]

Mr. Macleod

The assurance which I gave was meant to be encouraging towards the Motion, but not towards the prospect of finding time for it.

Mr. T. Fraser

Will the right hon. Gentleman reconsider the decision to impose a timetable Motion on the monopoly-creating Pipe-Lines Bill? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Standing Committee which is discussing the Bill still has to deal with about 52 Clauses and six Schedules; that there are about 60 Amendments on the Notice Paper in the name of the Minister and another nine new Clauses to be moved by the Minister? Does the right hon. Gentleman think that the Committee will be able to do its work in a reasonable manner, whether there be a timetable Motion or not, during this month? Would not it be better to withdraw the Motion, or, indeed, to withdraw the Bill, and to start afresh next Session?

Mr. Macleod

The hon. Gentleman is right. That is the alternative—it always is for the Government—when this sort of situation arises. Either the Government must withdraw a Bill or ask the House to agree to a timetable Motion so that the discussions on the Bill may be completed within what the Government, at least, consider a reasonable period of time. We are opting for the second course.

Mr. E. Johnson

May I ask whether it is the intention of the Government to introduce legislation in the near future to implement the Resolution passed by this House without dissent on 25th May in respect of the pensions of widows of officers and other ranks?

Mr. Macleod

I said, after making a business statement a week or two ago that when the Government accepted that Motion—it was accepted by my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary—we were not making it an excuse for delay, but a springboard for action. I can assure my hon. Friend that he will not have long to wait before he finds those words justified by a statement from this Box.

Mr. Greenwood

May I ask the Leader of the House when we may expect him to find time for a debate on the Motion standing on the Order Paper in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Blyton), supported by a very large number of Members on this side of the House, calling for an extension of public ownership?

[That this House, noting the failure of the Government to organise the nation's affairs with the result that unemployment continues and the expansion of industry is prevented in areas previously dominated by the manufacture of textiles, shipbuilding, coalmining etc.; realising that even the electrical equipment industries, at present prosperous, are vulnerable to fluctuations caused by financial manipulation; disturbed by the growing tendency to the creation of monopolies in private industry; condemns a society in which personal profit rather than social welfare determines the Row of investment capital; calls attention to the menacing growth of the economic power of a small minority of people, to the growth of private monopoly and the concentration of financial capital, and the consequent growth of economic power in organisations which are run for private profit and not in the national interests, to the growth of the giant corporations and private financial trusts which are increasingly dominating British life and economy; and calls for an urgent investigation into this trend and the application of a policy which will provide for an extension of public ownership so that Parliamentary control is established over the means of production, distribution and exchange, to enable a Socialist Britain to play an effective part in providing an expanding standard of living and contribute to the development of world resources in order that economic factors which foster national and international unrest can be removed.]

Mr. Macleod

Perhaps I could discuss that with the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr. Hirst

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether he is aware that his answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Sir J. Pitman) relating to the Motion signed by well over 60 hon. Members on this side of the House is highly unsatisfactory? Is he aware that there is a real measure of concern and not a little unfavourable comment about the dilatory nature of the Government's conduct on this monopoly question? Can he give a more reassuring answer to my hon. Friend?

Mr. Macleod

My reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Bath (Sir J. Pitman) was, and was taken to be, sympathetic, but that simply does not create extra days of Government time in July for this Motion to be discussed. This does not mean that the subject-matter of the Motion is not one which is at present being carefully considered by the Government.

Mr. Shinwell

Instead of advancing a flippant reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Rossendale (Mr. Greenwood), will the right hon. Gentleman take this matter a little more seriously? Is he aware that this Motion is a definite challenge to the Government's policy? Can such a challenge to the Government's policy be disregarded? Does the Leader of the House adopt a contemptuous attitude to a Motion of this description?

Mr. Macleod

No, Sir; on the contrary, I was delighted to see this Motion on the Order Paper. I do not think that it is suitable to provide Government time for it, but if the Opposition asked for a Supply day to debate that Motion we would consider it.

Mr. Thorpe

May we assume that the Government are not prepared to provide time for a debate on the Annual Price Review before the Summer Recess? Are they still relying on the official Opposition to provide a Supply day, and, if so, have any representations been made, and with what results?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that last night the majority of the House of Commons, led by the Prime Minister, voted for a proposition that the present pay pause was unfair in its incidence, was not being uniformly applied and could not be prolonged indefinitely, and that it was high time now for the Government to announce an overall fair plan for incomes?

Notwithstanding the fact that the right hon. Gentleman did not see fit to go into the Lobby in support of the Prime Minister or the Chancellor of the Exchequer for that proposition, may we take it that we shall have an important statement of policy from the Chancellor consequent upon the wishes of his hon. Friends?

Mr. Macleod

There has been no request for time for a discussion of this Motion. It is sometimes discussed, and sometimes it is not. It is normally taken, if it is discussed, in Supply time. Last night's debate ended, I think, in a very amicable and suitable way.

Mr. Lawson

May I ask the Leader of the House to reconsider on the business for next Wednesday, taking both the Report stage and Third Reading of the Licensing (Scotland) Bill [Lords)? In looking at this matter, we should bear in mind that we carried out the Committee stage of this Bill under an agreed timetable, and that there were very many matters that might have been discussed for a much longer period than was actually the case if we had not done it under an agreed timetable. Will he therefore agree to take the Third Reading on a separate day from the Report stage?

Mr. Macleod

I would certainly consider that. I recognise the validity of the point which the hon. Member makes. I do not desire to push business late on that night. Perhaps we might see how we get on and at a suitable time see what is the appropriate thing to do.

Mr. Warbey

With reference to the oil companies' pipeline promotion Bill, will the Leader of the House take into account the fact that this Bill is a long and controversial one, introduced very late in the Session, which is completely failing to carry out the undertaking given by the Minister himself about pipelines? Does he not think that it would be the decent and proper course to follow the precedent set up by his predecessor last Session and apply the Guillotine to the Bill itself?

Mr. Macleod

I appreciate the feelings of the hon. Member on this matter. As I have said, we will be able to debate whether a timetable Motion is appropriate or not on Monday. Most people, I think, who follow this matter, and, of course, the hon. Member himself has been very closely involved in the Committee proceedings, will recognise that the situation facing the Government is that on the present method of procedure, or at the present tempo, there would not be the slightest chance—of course, the hon. Gentleman would welcome that, and I recognise it—of the Bill becoming law. In view of that, the Government thought it right to put down a timetable Motion.

Commander Pursey

May I ask the Leader of the House if he would give the date, and particularly the time, when the annual Estimates of Greenwich Hospital will be taken this year? Is he aware that this is Government business, and that these Estimates are the equivalent of a Cotton-Clore £4 million property and investment organisation, and that the Seamen's Orphanage is now being developed as an officers' fee-paying school?

Is he also aware that some hon. Members of this House have a certain amount of responsibility in this matter, and that several hon. Members, both mercantile and legal, would be interested in the subject and want to take part in the debate? Is it his object that 100 Government supporters will have to be kept here until the early hours of the morning for the Closure Motion to be moved, and ought he not to consider, if not his own hon. Members, the members of the staff, and that proper arrangements should be made to take this Government business in the normal hours for the business of the House?

Mr. Macleod

I can assure the hon. and gallant Member that although the Motion on Greenwich Hospital and the Travers Foundation is not included in the busines for next week, we Will take it in Government time before the Summer Recess. I cannot give him a precise date, but we will certainly do that.

Dr. King

Is the Leader of the House aware that there are two Motions on the Order Paper, widely signed by hon. Members, one dealing with Service pensioners and the other dealing with public service pensioners? Can we take it that his statement made this afternon, that he expects to make a statement on Service pensions, covers the subject of the second Motion on the public service pensioners? If not, will he consider whether we can have a debate on these two Motions before we go into the Recess?

[That this House, recognising the hardship suffered by retired officers, pensioned other ranks and widows of the armed services, especially those who are old, whose retired pay and pensions cannot be debated under Pensions (Increase) Bills and bear no relation to current awards, urges Her Majesty's Government immediately to improve the pensions of widows bereaved before 4th November, 1958, and to examine the conditions peculiar to all armed service pensioners, and, as soon as economic circumstances permit, to introduce special provisions to improve their retired pay and pensions.]

[That this House, recognising the hardships of public service pensioners and especially of older public service pensioners, whose pensions bear no relation to similar pensions now obtaining in the public service, urges Her Majesty's Government to introduce, as soon as economic circumstances permit, a new Pensions (Increase) Bill to raise the incomes of such pensioners.]

Mr. Macleod

Frankly, I think that I have already been indiscreet enough on this business. I have given a clear indication that there will be a statement on this matter. I have, however, said earlier that there is a known and acknowledged link between the Services position and the public service pensioners, so that the hon. Member can take it that what I have said will cover them.

Mr. Gaitskell

To help us to decide whether we should take this as a possible Supply day subject, could the right hon. Gentleman give us some idea when the statement is likely to be made and be a little more explicit about the intention to cover the public service pensioners as well?

Mr. Macleod

It will be within, I should have thought, two weeks from now. I could not commit myself to a particular day, but it will be about that time. I think that it will cover the position to which the Leader of the Opposition refers.

Mr. C. Pannel

l: As the Leader of the House is apparently not able to make a statement today, can we expect a statement next week on the wider terms of reference for Mr. Speaker's Committee on Accommodation?

Mr. Macleod

As the hon. Gentleman knows, such a statement will be made by Mr. Speaker, but I think I may say that the terms of it, are, in fact, agreed.

Mr. Speaker

May I say now that I have it in mind to make it tomorrow morning? That seems to be the nearest and most sensible moment, in order not to oblige anybody to be here, as it is an agreed matter.

Mr. F. Noel-Baker

Can the Leader of the House find time before the Summer Recess for a debate on the Government's attitude to the United Nations, and, in the meantime, advise his hon. Friends and other hon. Members to attend a meeting to be attended by the Secretary-General of the United Nations upstairs this afternoon at 4.15?