HC Deb 15 November 1962 vol 667 cc568-78
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, 19TH NOVEMBER—Instead of the business previously announced, there will be the Committee and remaining stages of the Tanganyika Republic Bill.

Second Reading of the Commonwealth Scholarships (Amendment) Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution which it is hoped to obtain by seven o'clock.

Afterwards, there will be a debate on the Motion in the name of the Leader of the Opposition on Nuclear Tests.

Consideration of the Motion on the Cinematograph Films (Collection of Levy) (Amendment No. 2) Regulations.

TUESDAY, 20TH NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Coal Industry Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

And, if not previously obtained, the remaining stages of the Pensions (Increase) Bill.

WEDNESDAY, 21ST NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution.

Consideration of the Motions on Farm Improvements Grants, and on the Local Government Superannuation (Benefits) (New Towns Staffs) Regulations.

THURSDAY, 22ND NOVEMBER—Report and Third Reading of the Air Corporations Bill.

Second Reading of the Towyn Trewan Common Bill, and Committee stage of the Money Resolution, which it is hoped to obtain by seven o'clock.

Afterwards, there will be a debate on a Government Motion to take note of the Hall Report (Command No. 1835).

Consideration of the Motion on the Cutlery and Stainless Steel Flatware Industry (Scientific Research Levy) Order.

FRIDAY, 23RD NOVEMBER—Consideration of the Motions on the Army Act, 1955 (Continuation), and the Air Force Act, 1955 (Continuation) Orders, which the House may take formally to allow a debate on the Army and Air Force, on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House, which will enable a wider debate to take place.

MONDAY, 26TH NOVEMBER—The proposed business will be: Supply [1st Allotted Day]:

Motion to move Mr. Speaker out of the Chair, when a debate will arise on an Opposition Amendment relating to National Insurance, Etc., Benefits.

Consideration of the Motion relating to the procedure authorising new routes for trolley buses.

Mr. Gaitskell

While thanking the Leader of the House for arranging for the President of the Board of Trade to make the statement on advance factories which he has just made, may I ask him whether he will now arrange for a debate to take place not only on the problem of alleviating unemployment in the northern part of the country, but also on how to stop the steady drift to the South which is leaving the whole of the north of England and Scotland in a very dangerous situation?

May I ask him, further, whether he can now say when the proposed Bill on the reorganisation of London local government is to be introduced?

Mr. Macleod

On the first point, we discussed these very matters on the last day of the debate on the Address, but it is a question of the first importance and I take note of what the Leader of the Opposition says.

I hope that the Bill to reorganise the local government of London will be produced within two or three days.

Dame Irene Ward

Can my right hon. Friend now tell us when we are to debate the Royal Warrant for the increase of Service pensions? Is he aware that it is very hard on these people if they do not have their problems dealt with, satisfactorily, I hope, by the House and in the interests of democracy and their proper treatment?

Mr. Macleod

Yes, but if the House agrees to the suggestion contained in the business statement which I have made for Friday, 23rd November—in other words, if the House takes the Continuation Orders formally—I understand that, subject to the usual rules about debating matters on the Adjournment, those subjects would be in order.

Mr. Grimond

Further to the last reply given by the Leader of the House, although I appreciate that it is to a great extent a matter for you, Mr. Speaker, could the Leader of the House assist us a little more about the business for Friday? For instance, would it be in order, in his view, to debate defence policy, at least in so far as it refers to the Army and Air Force, or is it intended to stick to discipline and conditions in the Services, or are there to be no limits?

Mr. Macleod

The two matters I had in mind were, first, the matter which has just been raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward), and, secondly, the matter of Kuwait, which the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) and other hon. Members have raised. If the House accepts this suggestion—I think that it would be advantageous if we could do it in this way—this would then be a Motion for the Adjournment of the House. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, everything, subject to the ordinary rules about legislation, and so on, would then be in order.

Mr. Hirst

Could my right hon. Friend provide time for a discussion on the Anglo-Japanese Commercial Treaty? Does he recollect that I asked him this question on 1st November, when he promised to have discussions with his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade? Yesterday, the President of the Board of Trade, when asked, said that he would have discussions with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House. I am getting a little jaded at being used as a sort of football between my right hon. and esteemed Friends. There is concern in the country and on both sides of the House. We want to ask many questions. Will not my right hon. Friend accept seriously that it would be to the advantage of the Government to have a discussion?

Mr. Macleod

Those discussions have, in fact, taken place between my right hon. Friend and myself. As to the question my hon. Friend raises, without being able to be more specific at the moment I hope that fairly soon we shall be able to provide an opportunity for a debate on that matter.

Mr. George Craddock

I appreciate the point made by the hon. Member for Shipley (Mr. Hirst). I hope that we shall have a debate on the Treaty, having regard to the safeguards written into the Protocol, obviously for the purpose of preventing Japanese dumping. It would be a good idea if we were able to debate the matter.

Mr. Macleod

I think I indicated that I am sympathetic to that point of view.

Mr. Worsley

Will my right hon. Friend go a little further on the question of the Treaty and give us a specific undertaking that before ratification the Treaty will be discussed in the House?

Mr. Macleod

Yes, Sir. As I understand the position, ratification is not likely to take place until April, or about then, and I am thinking in terms of the next two weeks or something like that.

Mr. Shinwell

The right hon. Gentleman said, in reply to the hon. Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward), that it would be possible on Friday week to discuss the matter of an increase in war pensions. As the debate will be on the Adjournment, when we cannot discuss legislation, I am not quite clear how we can debate a matter which requires legislation. Does it not require legislation to increase war pensions?

Mr. Macleod

It does not require legislation and, therefore, I think that my answer is correct. Subject to the usual rules and the directions of the Chair, I think that this matter would be in order.

Captain Orr

Is my right hon. Friend aware that we are grateful to him for having arranged the Northern Ireland debate so promptly? Can he assure us that this preliminary debate on a very important and large subject will not preclude a discussion later in the Session, in Government time?

Mr. Macleod

I hope that we shall be able to have a good discussion next Thursday. I hope that the earlier business will not occupy the House for long. I have more or less promised that there will be a debate this Session and this half a day or half a day-plus will count towards it; but I will redeem the rest later

Mr. Gaitskell

With further reference to the business for Friday week, is not the case for the procedure proposed by the Leader of the House that the debates on the Motions for the two Acts would be very narrow and that it is, therefore, more satisfactory to take the debate on the Adjournment instead? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we would not regard it as satisfactory to dismiss the whole question of war pensions because it has been made possible for a few hon. Members to make some remarks about them in the course of a much wider debate? Will he, therefore, find time quite separately from this debate for a discussion on war pensions?

Mr. Macleod

I agree with the first part of what the right hon. Gentleman has said. That is the object of suggesting to the House that we should take it in this way. I think that we had better see how much this subject comes into Friday's discussion and then see whether it would be appropriate to discuss it further.

Sir C. Osborne

If I remember rightly, the Leader of the House said last week that next Monday's business would ne a debate on the £200 million extra we are to spend on capital equipment, on a Motion to take note of Command No. 1849. Has this subject been put away again, or shall we have a chance to discuss this very important White Paper?

Mr. Macleod

No, Sir. I think that it will come up fairly soon. As a result of yesterday's discussion and the loss of time for the Second Reading of the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill and other matters, we have had to rearrange next week's business. In due course we shall have the debate to which my hon. Friend has referred.

Mr. Short

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen a Motion which has appeared on the Order Paper, signed by all Labour Members of Parliament from the North-East, asking the Government to issue a directive to the B.T.C. to suspend the closure of workshops in the North-East so long as high unemployment persists? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, if all the advance factories mentioned by the President of the Board of Trade were fully occupied, they would not nearly take up the redundancy caused by the closure of the workshops.

Does not the Leader of the House think that it would be monstrous if these workshops were closed when we have a very high level of unemployment? Will he allow us to debate this matter?

[That this House regrets the British Transport Commission's decision to close down railway workshops and branch lines in the Northern Region of England, and calls upon Her Majesty's Government to issue a general direction to the British Transport Commission to withdraw this decision until the Government have carried out a comprehensive survey of the economic, social and industrial consequences of such action in the region.]

Mr. Macleod

Yes, Sir, I have seen that Motion and it has been drawn to the attention of my right hon. Friend, who takes the considerations that the Motion suggests into account in reaching any decision.

Mr. McMaster

In view of the very high level of unemployment in Northern Ireland, of the fears in the shipbuilding industry following the recession, and of the fears about the future of Short Bros. and Harland Ltd., will my right hon. Friend ensure that the Ministers responsible for shipping and aviation are present during the debate on Thursday to take note of the points made by the Hall Committee on shipping and aviation?

Mr. G. M. Thomson

Would the Leader of the House draw the attention of his right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary to the now overdue need to make a statement next week on the breakdown of the British Guiana Constitutional Conference? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this is the first conference of its kind to break down at this stage, so close to independence; and that there is a great deal of anxiety both in this House and in British Guiana about the Government's future intentions?

Mr. Macleod

I think that a White Paper has been laid, but I will convey that particular point to my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Oram

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the President of the Board of Trade has now announced that the proposed Consumer Council will be set up without the introduction of a Bill into this House, and that we shall thereby be deprived of the Second Reading debate that we were all expecting? Can we therefore now expect to have a debate on the Molony Committee's Report in the near future?

Mr. Macleod

No, I do not think that I can undertake to provide another day on that matter. We very recently had the Second Reading of the Weights and Measures Bill.

Mr. Wigg

Does not the Leader of the House agree that the question put to him about war pensions was based on a slight misconception? The hon. Lady the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) was asking about the Royal Warrant in connection with the pensions increases following the passing of the Pensions (Increase) Bill. Therefore, if the right hon. Gentleman gave the assurance for which my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition asked it would not meet the case at all. We should have a quite irregular debate on aspects of the Royal Warrant which concern all three fighting Services. I here declare an interest; I shall get about 4d. a week increase if the Royal Warrant becomes operative in that way.

Further, does the Leader of the House recollect that on business about a fortnight ago I raised the question of a debate calling for a Select Committee to inquire into the organisation and planning of the Kuwait operation, as a result of which the British troops were adversely affected because they were sent into active operations without adequate supplies of ammunition, food, water, clothing and many other items of equipment—

Mr. Speaker

Order. We really must, in the general interest, bear in mind that these are questions on next week's business, and not speeches.

Mr. Wigg

With respect, Mr. Speaker, perhaps you will allow me to finish this part of the question. In view of the arguments to be put forward from both sides, a debate on the Army Act Continuation Order will be too narrow. I should not suffer any great disability, because there has been a breakdown in discipline and one can associate that with the Order, which is what the Leader of the House himself said; but unless this point is cleared up, and if we are to run the risk of its being a debate on pay and any other subject, I will not be prepared to take the Order formally.

Mr. Macleod

I take note of what the hon. Member has said. As to the first part of his remarks, he is quite right—there was a confusion in what was said between Service pensioners and war pensioners. I accept that. On the second point, the Kuwait operation was certainly very much in my mind, and that is one of the main reasons why I suggested that we should take the business in this way, so that the hon. Member should be able to raise these very matters on the Adjournment.

Dame Irene Ward

Will the Royal Warrant be issued before next Friday? If not, the debate will not be very profitable. Further, I asked for a full day's debate. Does not my right hon. Friend realise that if he would agree with me rather than with the Leader of the Opposition it would be very much better?

Mr. Macleod

With respect, I did agree with my hon. Friend. I am always delighted to do that whenever I possibly can, and only regret that the opportunities are not, perhaps, more extensive. It will not be possible for the Royal Warrant to be issued before that date, but I have already given an assurance that we will see how much time is taken in this debate, and then consider the position.

Mr. M. Foot

Is it proposed to confine Monday's debate on the proposed British nuclear test to three hours? Will not the Leader of the House so arrange that if hon. Members wish to continue the debate the Standing Order will be suspended and further time given?

Mr. Macleod

I could consider that. As matters stand at the moment, there will be a three-hour debate on the Motion on Monday unless, as I hope, we are able to dispose of the previous business earlier than seven o'clock.

Mr. Stonehouse

Has the Leader of the House given favourable consideration to the request for a debate on the situation in Rhodesia arising out of the United Nations vote?

Mr. Macleod

I have drawn the attention of my right hon. Friend the First Secretary to the observations made to me by the hon. Member last week.

Mr. Dudley Williams

Can my right hon. Friend say whether there is any likelihood of getting on with the Offices, Shops and Railway Premises Bill today?

Mr. Macleod

I hope so.

Mr. Fernyhough

The Leader of the House said that he hopes that we might be able to start the debate on Monday's Motion on nuclear tests before seven o'clock, but there is always the possibility that we will not. As many hon. Members will doubtless want to take part in that debate, can he give an assurance that the time will be extended by an hour.

Mr. Macleod

No, but if there were a strong feeling for that it would, of course, be taken into consideration.

Mrs. Castle

Has the Leader of the House ascertained from you, Mr. Speaker, when you intend to present to the House the very important Report on accommodation which was presented to Mr. Speaker by the Advisory Committee on Accommodation at the end of the last Session? May I also ask the right hon. Gentleman when, as the terms of reference of that Committee were extended, it is intended to reconvene it?

Mr. Macleod

I do not know, Mr. Speaker, whether it is for you or me to answer that question. It is likely that a statement will be made in the very near future on that matter when, perhaps, the other part of the hon. Lady's question will be appropriate.

Mr. Hector Hughes

When will the Leader of the House find time to discuss the statement, which is very unsatisfactory and inadequate, made by the President of the Board of Trade today, with regard to north-east Scotland? That should be discussed at a very early date.

Mr. Macleod

With respect, that was the very first question I answered some little time ago—to the Leader of the Opposition—in this exchange about business.

Mr. C. Pannell

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Arising from the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mrs. Castle) I wonder, with respect, whether you appreciate the necessity for reporting reasonably early because, as I discerned it, an answer given by the Minister of Public Building and Works the other day ran counter to the spirit of the recommendations of the Advisory Committee.

Mr. Speaker

I do not know that we can discuss all these things now, but I have it in mind, and was intending to do it in the shortest possible time from now.

Mr. Scholefield Allen

Has the attention of the Leader of the House been drawn to the Motion on the Order Paper which, inter alia, refers to the plight of railway superannuitants, who have always been the last in the queue for increases? Will he find time to debate the position of the old railway company superannuitants? They are always the forgotten people on the pensions list.

[That, in welcoming the new legislation relating to public service pensions, this House is glad to note that the Electricity Council and the Gas Council are considering applying the provisions of the new Act to their pensioners; and urges the Minister of Transport, under the financial circumstances of the British Transport Commission, to finance it in order that railway superannuitants may benefit from the proposals of the Bill.]

Mr. Macleod

I have, of course, studied that Motion. A similar Motion, or an identical Motion, was on the Order Paper last Session, and I take it that it will be in order to discuss some aspects of that as the Pensions (Increase) Bill goes through the House.

Mr. R. Edwards

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Molony Report contains 90 recommendations on welfare and consumer protection, and covers a much wider field than weights and measures alone? Is he also aware that another place is allocating two days for a debate on the Report? I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of this House will be very disappointed if we do not have an opportunity to discuss this very important Report.

Mr. Macleod

It is important, but my answer must be that I cannot, at the moment, see the possibility of Government time for it.

Mr. McMaster

Does my right hon. Friend know which Ministers will be taking part in next Thursday's debate on the Hall Committee's Report?

Mr. Macleod

The main speaker for the Government will be my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary.