HC Deb 08 November 1962 vol 666 cc1162-71
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, 12TH NOVEMBER.—Second Reading of the Weights and Measures Bill and of the Expiring Laws continuance Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolutions.

TUESDAY, 13TH NOVEMBER.—Second Reading of the Foreign Compensation Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution, which it is hoped to obtain by 7 p.m.

Afterwards, there will be a debate on the Government Motion to take note of the White Paper on Aden (Command No. 1814).

WEDNESDAY, 14TH NOVEMBER.— Second Reading of the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

Consideration of the Motion on Farm Improvements Grants.

Committee and remaining stages of the Tanganyika Republic Bill.

THURSDAY, 15TH NOVEMBER.—Second Reading of the Offices, Shops and Railway Premises Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

FRIDAY, 16TH NOVEMBER.—Committee and remaining stages of the Pensions (Increase) Bill.

MONDAY, 19TH NOVEMBER.—The proposed business will be: Debate on Public Investment, which will arise on a Government Motion to take note of the White Paper (Command No. 1849).

Then, consideration of the Motion on the Cinematograph Films (Collection of Levy) (Amendment No. 2) Regulations.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is the Minister aware that, while we are anxious to do everything we can to expedite the Pensions (Increase) Bill, it may be difficult to get it all through on a single Friday this week? Will he find time in the near future for a debate on Service pensions, a subject which, I think, the House has not discussed for a very considerable time?

Mr. Macleod

I appreciate what the Leader of the Opposition has said about then Pensions (Increase) Bill. Naturally, I do not wish to push that business, but perhaps I should make it clear—because all hon. Members will be in sympathy with this Bill—that the pensions are paid from the first of the month which follows the Royal Assent. The House will, therefore, wish to take this as quickly as it can. Subject to that, we shall see how we get on that day.

The Leader of the Opposition asked about Service pensions. War pensioners were covered by a sentence in the Gracious Speech which the Leader of the Opposition will remember. I will take note of what he said.

Captain Orr

Can my right hon. Friend yet say when we may expect a debate on the Hall Committee's Report on the economy of Northern Ireland?

Mr. Macleod

No. Sir. It is too early in the Session. The House will recognise that this is inevitably a period when we have to have a lot of Second Readings put through so that the Committees can start work.

Miss Herbison

On Monday of this week the Chancellor of the Exchequer informed the House that the President of the Board of Trade today would be making an announcement about further advance factories and, I expected, possible industrial sites. Since the President of the Board of Trade has not taken the opportunity, which he could have taken after Questions, to make that statement, I want to ask the Leader of the House, first, whether that statement is being given to the Press rather than to the House today, and, if that is so, whether he will find time next week so that we may discuss a subject which is of prime importance to the economy of Scotland?

Mr. Macleod

I cannot give an undertaking to find time for that debate. Of course, the Question is first answered to the House. It is a Written Question, and the Answer is no doubt already available. It will then become available to the Press in the ordinary way.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

May I ask a question about Tuesday's business? Will the Leader of the House consider consulting the appropriate Ministers to see whether, when we reach Second Reading of the Foreign Compensation Bill, we may be clearer as to what the total sum of money will be, because at present no sum is mentioned in the Bill?

Mr. Macleod

Yes, Sir. I will certainly convey the point which my hon. Friend makes to those who will speak on this Bill.

Mr. Greenwood

Does the Minister expect next week to be able to make a statement on visits by Black Rod?

Mr. Macleod

No—or it may be. I should have thought, subject to your views, Mr. Speaker, that if any statement were made on that matter it would be made by you. I am in touch with the Leader of the Opposition on this matter.

Mr. Thorpe

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when the Joint Committee on House of Lords Reform is likely to report?

Mr. Macleod

I cannot say. I do not think that it will be very long. It was only recently reassembled.

Sir W. Teeling

Will my right hon. Friend consider the possibility of having a debate fairly soon on Malta, a subject which interests many people in the country and in Malta, who are much worried about the docks and the general situation there? We should like to know more about it.

Mr. Macleod

I understand the anxiety which Members who are particularly concerned with Malta feel, but I am bound to say that I cannot at this period of the Session see any likelihood of a debate.

Sir B. Janner

After many promises have been made, will the Leader of the House say when he proposes to arrange for a debate on the Albemarle Report? He and his predecessors have said that they are very keenly interested in it. Has he had an opportunity yet of considering how important it is?

Also, will the right hon. Gentleman give us an opportunity at some time of considering a Bill to revise the jury system?

Mr. Macleod

I have no statement to make on the second question.

Unquestionably, the Albemarle Report is of great importance, and there were various opportunities which could have been taken to debate it last Session. I cannot see any likelihood of it being discussed at present.

Mr. C. Pannell

Will the Leader of the House consider the Motion on the Order Paper in my name which refers to my Question which the Prime Minister has just answered? Will he also bear in mind the undesirability of leaving that sort of Motion on the Order Paper any longer than is necessary? [HON. MEMBERS: "Take it off."] Will he consider that it might be to the advantage of the House to have half-a-day's discussion on this and related matters in respect of the implementation of the Stokes Committee's Report? These sort of things are long overdue and if there were a discussion it might give rise to the idea that further Motions would not be necessary. Would he consider finding time for the House to discuss this, probably for half a day?

[That this House regrets that Her Majesty has made an appointment to the office of Serjeant at Arms in attendance on the House without consulting the House.]

Mr. Macleod

I hoped that after the very friendly discussions which took place just now, which appeared to be welcome to both sides of the House, the hon. Member would be prepared to take that Motion off the Order Paper. But it is for him to decide. Naturally, one does not want to see it remain there. I think that the whole House feels that the next step must be for the Prime Minister to carry out the undertaking which he gave to the House this afternoon, and that we should wish to await the result of that.

Mr. Grimond

Will the Leader of the House give some consideration to the position which has arisen from the statement on Monday by the Chancellor of the Exchequer? Surely it has important implications in regard to the control by the House over finance and also for the Finance Bill. I do not wish to take the matter any further now, but it raises questions of the Finance Bill and of the time-honoured responsibility of the House for financial Measures.

Mr. Macleod

With respect, I do not think that this arises out of the business of the House. There are possibilities, perhaps, for the Select Committee on Procedure, or something like that, if this is thought suitable as a matter for discussion, but I am not saying necessarily that that is the right answer.

Sir C. Osborne

Do I understand that on Monday week, after a discussion on Command Paper 1849 on Public Investment, some other business is to be taken? We shall need all day to discuss this very important Command Paper.

Mr. Macleod

Yes, Sir. The second business Which I announced—the affirmative Motion—is exempted business and follows after 10 p.m. if the first business runs all day. The point made by my hon. Friend is covered.

Mr. Hector Hughes

When will the Leader of the House move to appoint a Select Committee on Procedure? When he is doing that, will he include in the terms of reference the matter referred to in my early day Motion No. 8, which deals with the present rule which enables one private Member to frustrate another private Member's Bill simply by saying, "I object", without giving any reason and perhaps without having even read the Bill?

[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

As for the appointment of the Select Committee on Procedure, the hon. and learned Member, if he studies the Order Paper, will see that it is on the Order Paper for today and that I shall be moving it in the usual way after business at 10 p.m. The subjects are a matter on which we must have some discussion. As he knows, there are very many claims.

Mr. Speaker

May I point out to the House that if ever we are to get to the business of the day we must try to keep off policy during Questions on the business for next week?

Mr. Collick

Further to the question raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison), the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on Monday, definitely told the House that there would be a statement today from the Minister at the Board of Trade about the building of advance factories. Why has that statement not been made?

Mr. Macleod

I should like to look up the words used. My recollection is not the same. I thought that he said that an announcement would be made on Thursday. That is happening. An announcement has been made, and I think that it is now available to the country and, of course, to hon. Members.

Miss Herbison

I am certain that hon. Members on both sides of the House took it that the Chancellor of the Exchequer's statement meant that we should have an Oral Answer today. Is it not the case, from what the Leader of the House has said, that information is to be given in answer to a Written Question? Is he not aware that there are Questions down to the Board of Trade today for Oral Answer which would have given the President of the Board of Trade a chance to make this statement. Since he has not made it, and since it is a matter of importance not only to Scottish Members but to any other area where work is scarce, will the Leader of the House give some time next week for a discussion of this important matter?

Mr. Macleod

I have already said that my impression of what the Chancellor said was different. We shall have to refer to the words in HANSARD. My impression is genuinely different. I did not think that any undertaking had been given that a statement would be made.

On the general matter, this information on advance factories, particularly in the North-East and in Scotland, has now been issued. I should have thought that it was convenient for hon. Members to have it in that way so that if they wished they could follow it with questions to the President of the Board of Trade.

Commander Pursey

As the Government can provide a day for a full debate on the public servants Pensions (Increase) Bill, why do they not also provide a full day for a discussion of Service pension increases and increases in widows' pensions so that they can be debated? Does not a principle of the Constitution arise, namely, control of expenditure by the House, because these prerogative Motions go through, first, without anybody ever seeing them, secondly, without them ever being debated, and thirdly, without anybody being able to express grievances about the pensions of lower ranks as well as officers, except by a Private Member's Motion?

Mr. Macleod

What is done follows long-established precedents. I will certainly consider what the hon. and gallant Gentleman has said.

Mr. Gaitskell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that most of us on this side of the House certainly gathered from the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the President of the Board of Trade would be making his statement in the House on the advance factories programme? Does he not agree, in any case, that a statement of this degree of importance should be made in the House, so that the Minister can be questioned?

Since the President of the Board of Trade has not made it, but it has apparently been issued as a statement in Answer to a Written Question, will the right hon. Gentleman consider the request of my hon. Friends, which I strongly support, that some other opportunity should be provided in the near future for us to discuss this matter?

Mr. Macleod

Of course I will consider it. I was merely making the point that I took what was said by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a rather different way from that in which some hon. Members have taken it. I will discuss at once what has been said in the House and let the President of the Board of Trade know the feeling of the House.

Mr. Eden

Will my right hon. Friend tell the House at what time tonight the debate on the Common Market will be continued?

Mr. Rankin

May I remind the Leader of the House that he is about to embark on a most important business matter? He has appointed a Committee to inquire into the rights of Scottish Peers and Peeresses, along with some other parts of the United Kingdom. Does he realise that this inquiry may involve the Act of Union between England and Scotland? Is he aware that there is not a single Scotsman on the Select Committee which he has appointed? How does he expect a Select Committee composed of nothing but Englishmen to deal in a businesslike fashion with Scottish affairs? Will he not reconsider the composition of this Select Committee—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I do not think the hon. Gentleman heard what I said just now about keeping off policy during questions on business.

Mr. Stonehouse

In view of the worsening position in Rhodesia and the overwhelming vote in the United Nations calling for the suspension of the Constituion, when can the House expect a statement from the First Secretary of State and a debate?

Mr. Macleod

I have no information to give the House as to any intentions of my right hon. Friend the First Secretary, but I will tell him what the hon. Gentleman has said.

Dame Irene Ward

I do not think that my right hon. Friend has made the position about Service pensions quite clear. I understand that they will be increased through the Royal Warrant. Can he make it clear that, following precedent, an opportunity will be given to discuss this whole matter, because it is just as important to discuss Service pensions and increases to them as it is other pensions? I have not got the position quite clear. It is probably due to my stupidity.

Mr. Macleod

Frankly, I am not quite clear on this, either. All I can tell my hon. Friend is that we will follow the usual custom.

Mr. Reynolds

Is the Leader of the House aware that, apart from the political arguments about the reform of local government in the London area, a growing number of people are becoming concerned about the short amount of time available for the vast administrative work to be done if the Government stick to their programme? Can the Leader of the House say whether we shall be seeing the Bill next week, or can he give us any other indication as to the programme he has in mind?

Mr. Macleod

The Bill will be published as soon as possible, in about a week or ten days. Then there will be the appropriate interval before we ask the House to agree to the Second Reading.

Mr. J. T. Price

With reference to the second item of business set down for next Wednesday—the Motion on Farm Improvement Grants—am I correctly informed that it is now the proposal of the Government to set aside no less a sum than £35 million as an additional payment for this purpose? If so, can the Leader of the House now tell us under what authority this Motion is being presented to the House, because we shall want to know this and have the information available when the debate takes place?

Is it not a serious departure from the budgetary policy of the House when large items of public expenditure are brought before us at short notice for the purpose, as many of us see the proposition, of influencing a series of by-elections in rather critical agricultural constituencies?

May we be told the authority under which this transaction is being put before us for approval next Wednesday, because it is a most serious departure from the budgetary—

Mr. Speaker

Order. I shall never be able to manage our business unless hon. Gentlemen will refrain from making speeches instead of asking questions on the business statement.

Mr. Popplewell

Is the Leader of the House aware that there is no statement yet available on the question of advance factories? The assurance given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Monday was in these terms: I understand that my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade will, on Thursday, be announcing details of new advance factories in the North-East and in Scotland."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 5th November, 1962; Vol. 666, c. 635.] Will the right hon. Gentleman now say at what time today this announcement is to be made to the House, as I assume it would be, in accordance with the Chancellor's very firm promise during Monday's debate?

Mr. Macleod

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for reading those words, because I think that the House will agree that they confirm that my recollection is right. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] They were exactly the words I used, that an announcement would be made, not that a statement was promised. However, I have promised the Leader of the Opposition that I will consult at once on this matter, and my right hon. Friend will be in no doubt about the feeling of the House.