HC Deb 28 July 1964 vol 699 cc1226-8
Q3. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Prime Minister if he will give an assurance that Her Majesty's Ministers will exercise their powers under Standing Order No 117 to make the appropriate representations for an earlier meeting of this House to discuss any item of policy which they may propose during the forthcoming Recess which has not been previously reported to the House.

Q7. Mr. W. Hamilton

asked the Prime Minister if he will make representations that Parliament should be recalled under Standing Order 117 for two weeks in early September.

The Prime Minister

I think we can rely on the usual arrangements which my right hon. and learned Friend the lord Privy Seal will have in mind tomorrow when the House comes to deal with the Motion for the Summer Adjournment.

Mr. Shinwell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I welcome his assurance and also the assurance that what he has just said will be confirmed tomorrow by the Leader of the House? May we have a further assurance that the project for a mixed-manned force, whether canvassed by the United States or advocated by the Secretary of State for Defence, will not meet with any commitment or decision during the Recess and until Parliament has had an opportunity of debating this subject?

The Prime Minister

We have not made up our minds and are unlikely to make up our minds—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—because we want to understand all the facts. So does every other member of the N.A.T.O. alliance want the full facts before us before we make up our minds on the matter.

Mr. Hamilton

Does not the Prime Minister agree that it would be a good idea to have a week or a fortnight of debate in this House in early September to discuss questions such as that raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell)? Does not the Prime Minister recognise that there will be a smell of blood in the air at that time—blue blood particularly—and does he not recognise that in addition to this question there is an economic crisis looming up, as his matchstick exercises will have convinced him? In view of those circumstances, would not he agree that it would be in the public interest to have at least a week to debate these issues?

The Prime Minister

I do not think we had better go into the business of blood. For a long time the Douglas's and the Hamiltons had a feud in which a great deal of blood was shed in Scottish history. On the whole, the Douglas's came out as the winners. I think it very unlikely that we should be ready to discuss in Parliament such matters as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) mentioned. A decision on this matter is very unlikely for some months to come.

Mr. Shinwell

Will the Prime Minister take it from me that the one thing I deprecate is any shedding of blood during a General Election and that we ought to debate matters of policy like the gentlemen we are?

The Prime Minister indicated assent