HC Deb 18 July 1963 vol 681 cc729-37
Mr. H. Wilson

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, 22ND JULY—Second Reading of the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill, which, if the House agrees, it is proposed to take formally.

Debate on an Opposition Motion on Consequences of the Rent Act, 1957, and Property Profiteering.

Motions on the Double Taxation Relief (Estate Duty) (France) Order, the Cine- matograph Films Regulations, and the Commonwealth Preference Area (Removal of West Cameroon) Order.

TUESDAY, 23RD JULY—Remaining stages of the Public Order Bill [Lords], and of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill [Lords].

Motions on the Protection of Depositors (Accounts) Regulations and the Statistics of Trade Act 1947 Order.

WEDNESDAY, 24TH JULY—Remaining stages of the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill.

There will be a debate on Unemployment of Young People, which it is thought may last for half a day, and be followed by subjects which hon. Members may wish to raise.

THURSDAY, 25TH JULY—Consideration of Lords Amendments to the London Government Bill.

Motion on the Gas (Borrowing Powers) Order.

FRIDAY, 26TH JULY—Consideration of Lords Amendments to the Contracts of Employment Bill and to the Offices, Shops and Railway Premises Bill.

If there is time we propose to facilitate consideration of the remaining stages of a number of Private Members' Bills, including the Animals Boarding Establishments Bill and the Performers' Protection Bill [Lords].

MONDAY, 29TH JULY—The proposed business will be: Debate on Welsh Affairs.

Mr. M. Stewart

Is the Leader of the House satisfied that he has allowed enough time for the Lords Amendments to the London Government Bill? Can we have an assurance that there will be no attempt to truncate that discussion, either by guillotining it or by an attempt to take the Amendments en bloc?

Mr. Macleod

The hon. Member knows very well that in paragraph 13 of the Allocation of Time Order there was provision for a supplementary Motion to be moved. We would, of course, propose to move such a Motion on Thursday, 25th July. [Hon. Members: "Oh."] Of course. If the hon. Member would like, with the Minister concerned and myself, to have discussions on the form of business that day, we would be glad to do so.

Mr. H. Wilson

There is no "of course" about it. Is the Leader of the House aware that this is a monstrous procedure, that this House did not get proper consideration of the London Government Bill, with all the damage that it does to local government in London, and that whatever may have happened in another place, where there was vigilance by certain noble Lords, that does not affect the rights of this House? There are a considerable number of Lords Amendments, on which it is right that this House should have adequate facilities for debate and decision. Will the right hon. Gentleman think again on this matter?

Mr. Macleod

The Leader of the Opposition knows perfectly well, because he has the form of the Allocation of Time Order, which was passed or approved by this House, that provision is made in paragraph 13 of that Order, and has been for a considerable time, for precisely cases of this sort. We will, of course, gladly have any consultations on this matter that are helpful and we would try to be helpful in the matter. I could not undertake to go beyond that.

Mr. Wilson

I know that the Government have taken power, but is the right hon. Gentleman aware that merely because they have taken power to do evil in a certain direction does not mean that they must do evil? The proposal which the right hon. Gentleman has made for consultation is entirely prejudiced by the decision which he has announced that the Government will have a Guillotine. It is quite impossible for any such discussion to be constructive or helpful. Will the right hon. Gentleman think again? We know that he has that power—he has the power to do a lot of harm, and he keeps on doing it—but here is a case where the right hon. Gentleman, having the power, might have the good sense not to use it.

Mr. Macleod

The Leader of the Opposition knows perfectly well that considering the number of Amendments, of which no fewer than 156, for example, are consequential, and 40 or 50 are drafting, in a Bill that is as contentious as this one—there would have been no point otherwise in this part of the Allocation of Time Order—it always was the intention that if a substantial number of Amendments came from another place, this provision would be used.

I am, of course, ready to think again. I cannot think—[Hon. Members: "Hear, hear."] I must speak a little more quickly. I believe that the consultations which I have suggested could be useful and worth while. Beyond that, I do not make any set proposals for Thursday, 25th July, but we will be glad to discuss it.

Mr. P. Williams

I thank the Leader of the Opposition for giving some of us on this side an opportunity to put some questions. [Hon. Members: "Oh."] May I ask my right hon. Friend—[Hon. Members: "Sit down."] May I ask my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House—

Hon. Members


Mr. A. Lewis

On a point of order. I am not aware whether you heard, Mr. Speaker, but the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. P. Williams) prefaced his remarks by saying that he thanked the Leader of the House—[Hon. Members: "Leader of the Opposition."]—for giving him and his hon. Friends the opportunity of asking a question from that side of the House. Am I not right in assuming, Mr. Speaker—[Hon. Members: "No."]—that every—[Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

The burdens of the Chair are sufficient without having it made difficult for its occupant to hear.

Mr. Lewis

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Am I not right in assuming that hon. Members, on both sides, owe the privilege of asking questions to you and to no one else, and that no other person in the House can give them that right?

Mr. Speaker

If the hon. Member will trust me to do what I think is right, the position is that we have gallons and gallons of water resources to get through. We must get on.

Mr. P. Williams

I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, if I have added to the burden of the water which flows under the bridge. May I ask my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition—[Laughter.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. I have a suggestion which the House might be willing to adopt, namely, that the hon. Member might be allowed time to reflect upon the precise terms of his question and that for the moment I should call another hon. Member.

Mr. Shinwell

May I ask the Leader of the House whether the Government have fixed a further date for debate on the reorganisation of defence and, if so, whether we are to have one or two days for this important debate?

Mr. Macleod

It will be during the three or four days remaining before we rise and after the business which I have announced. I cannot give a precise date. It will be a one-day debate during the last week before we rise.

Captain Orr

My right hon. Friend has promised an early debate on the affairs of Northern Ireland. Can he tell us when it will take place?

Mr. Macleod

It will also be in the last week before we rise.

Mr. Wade

As, I understand, the Government are giving consideration to the effectiveness—or, perhaps I should say, the ineffectiveness—of the Housing Act, 1961, in its application to multiple occupation and the scandalous abuse of the housing shortage by certain landlords, may we take it that in the debate on Monday an opportunity will be taken by the Government to announce the conclusions which they have reached on this subject?

Mr. Macleod

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Housing and Local Government has invited such representations. He has, of course, heard the point which has been made and he will be speaking in that debate.

Mr. P. Williams

This is a shipping matter, Mr. Speaker. I wonder whether my right hon. Friend can elaborate on his answer of last week in relation to the provision of £30 million of credit facilities for the shipping industry and whether legislation will be necessary for this? If so, will it come forward shortly?

Secondly, during the course of business next week, will a statement be made on the Cunard problem?

Mr. Macleod

Legislation will in due course be necessary. It is not necessary immediately. It will be in the business for next Session.

On the other point which my hon. Friend has raised, there will be an announcement presently by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport. I cannot give him a precise date.

Mr. M. Stewart

Will the right hon. Gentleman find time for a discussion of the Motion on the Order Paper concerning the disregard of the House shown by the Ministerial practice of thrusting in statements of policy in the form of Written Answers to prearranged Questions, the Answers being previously disclosed to the Press?

[That this House deplores the growing practice of Ministers announcing important decisions and executive actions by means of Written Answers to Questions often placed on the Order Paper for this purpose, thus depriving hon. Members of their established right to examine ministerial statements, and requests the Minister of Housing and Local Government to make a statement at the earliest opportunity on the composition and terms of reference of the committee to inquire into the impact of rates on different sections of the community.]

I ask this question because the Minister of Housing has done it again recently, and it invariably causes vexation to a number of hon. Members.

Mr. Macleod

I do not accept everything that the hon. Member says, but I recognise that there is a difficult point here. Sometimes, especially as we move towards one of the Recesses that we have each year, a considerable number of statements are made, and the House is sometimes restive if too many statements are made at 3.30 p.m. We have to try to keep a balance in this matter.

Dame Irene Ward

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind—as time is getting rather short—that there are many outstanding questions dealing with the problems of widows—both Service widows and widowed mothers—and the earnings rule? Will he also bear in mind that statements dealing with policy will be expected by me and many other people before the House rises, and that I would like to know whether we are to get these statements—because I wish to plan an explosion if we are not?

Mr. Macleod

I shall have to consider all the implications of that statement. I will draw it to the attention of my colleagues.

Miss Herbison

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether he will provide time to get all the stages of the Law of Intestacy Bill through the House, since the women of Scotland feel that the Government have worked the shabbiest and meanest trick upon them by presenting the Bill knowing that they will not give time to remedy a grave injustice to Scottish women.

Mr. Macleod

The hon. Lady knows that the answer to the first part of her question is "No". It would not be practical politics, purely from the point of view of time.

As for the hon. Lady's second point, it is by no means unusual, and I am sure that with a Measure of this complexion and complexity it is right, that the Bill should be introduced, so that a debate on it can take place and, at the appropriate time, can be carried into law.

Mr. G. R. Howard

Did I understand my right hon. Friend aright to say that there would be a statement on Government policy with regard to the Q.4 liner before the House goes into recess?

Mr. Macleod

I know that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport plans to make a statement before we rise. What form it will take I cannot tell the House at present.

Mr. Lubbock

Can the right hon. Gentleman say, first, whether time will be found to debate the Motion standing in the name of the hon. Member for West Ham, North (Mr. A. Lewis) and myself, which goes a little further than the one that has been referred to by the hon. Member for Fulham (Mr. M. Stewart), and which draws attention to what happened yesterday when the Minister of Housing and Local Government answered a Question from me by way of a Written Answer, and the in- formation in that Answer was conveyed to the Press by some means on the same day?

[That this House deplores the growing practice by Ministers in general, and the Minister of Housing and Local Government in particular, of announcing important policy decisions by means of written answers to Questions placed on the Order Paper for this purpose, thus depriving hon. Members of their established right to examine Ministerial statements, and declares that it particularly resents the leakage of information to the newspapers which enables them to give the substance of such answers before hon. Members could have known their contents.]

Secondly, will an opportunity be provided for the House to discuss the Corbett Report, or whatever snippets we are allowed to know about, before we rise for the Recess, bearing in mind the promise made by the Minister of Aviation, when we last debated this subject on 13th May, that we should have such an opportunity? He has had the Report in his hands for two months, and we still have not had an opportunity.

Mr. Macleod

There are still opportunities available to the hon. Member if he wishes to raise that matter. On the second point, there is a Question down on the Corbett Report for answer by my right hon. Friend in a few days' time.

Mr. Warbey

Will the right hon. Gentleman provide an opportunity for the House to debate the decision which has just been announced by the Minister of Power to hand over a valuable transport concession to the international oil cartel? To enable hon. Members to judge the matter effectively, will he ask his right hon. Friend to publish a White Paper or lay a report on the Table setting out the circumstances which led him to make his decision?

Mr. Macleod

No, Sir. The House will realise that there are only two or three days available after the business that I have announced; that one of those days has to be a full day's debate on defence—which all the House is anxious to have—and that there are debates on Northern Ireland and accommodation which we are anxious to take before the House rises, if we can.

Mr. Wigg

As the Leader of the House has promised a debate on the White Paper dealing with the central organisation of defence, will he be kind enough to give consideration to the Notice of Motion relating to a new Standing Order No. 90B, which is on the Order Paper in my name, and which also amends the existing Standing Order No. 90A?

[Standing Orders: That the Amendment to the Standing Orders of this House relating to Public Business and the new Standing Order, hereinafter stated in the Schedule, be made.

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