A Bill will be presented, probably tomorrow, and made available to Members to amend the National Insurance Act, 1946, to permit contributions credited, as distinct from contributions paid, since 5th July, 1948, to rank as qualification for the death grant. We hope that it will be agreeable to the House to pass this Bill through all its stages during the course of next week.
Why is it that we are not to have a Debate on the Report of the Royal Commission on the Press next week? A fortnight ago the Opposition were demanding a Debate as a matter of urgency, and offered one of their Supply Days. Last week, I asked my right hon. Friend to give a day of Government's time in view of the Opposition's reluctance to press this matter. Am I to understand—
I am beginning to share my hon. Friend's disappointment in this matter, because we were not only promised but threatened with a Debate, which, as I said at the time, I was very anxious we should have. Unhappily, I cannot give a day. The Opposition announced through the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, that they would devote a Supply Day to the subject; but there is a further week to go, and therefore it may be that it is still the intention of the Opposition that the Debate shall take place.
I must say that I think this is most ungracious behaviour by the Leader of the House. May I ask him to bear in mind that we have given up one of our Supply Days to allow a Debate to take place on this crisis, which we were assured by the Government, a few months ago, would not take place? We have given up a day which could perfectly well have been taken for a Debate on the Press. We have also given up one of our normal days for the Appropriation Bill in order to help the Government. That is two days given up, and all we get is an insult.
I think that indignation is a bit out of proportion. The Government have given a day for the economic crisis as well, namely, next Monday. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I hope the Opposition will not lose their heads. The Opposition, through their Deputy Leader, not only said they would give us a Supply Day but almost imposed and threatened us with a Supply Day in order to debate the Report of the Royal Commission on the Press. Therefore, I think it is legitimate for my hon. Friend to exercise some curiosity about the matter.
May I be allowed to remind the right hon. Gentleman that I never said we would not have this Debate before the end of the Session? I only responded to the imputation that we had behaved badly in this matter. I now give the right hon. Gentleman notice that we will have the Debate on the day of the Appropriation Bill.
When the right hon. Gentleman said that the Government could not give a day for discussion of the Press Report, can he inform the House what, if anything, he meant?
Are we to understand from the exchange which has taken place about the Report of the Royal Commission on the Press that the Debate will take place in the Opposition's time, next Thursday? Is it not a fact that this delay has been a great advantage in the sense that it has given the Opposition time to read the Report?
[That this House, while welcoming the action of the Government in accepting those recommendations of the Masterman Committee on the Political Activities of Civil Servants which expand the freedom of the minor and manipulative grades and of industrial civil servants, regrets the acceptance of those recommendations which take away much civil liberty that custom and departmental rules have given in the past to the remaining grades in the service; and urges the reconsideration, in consultation with the staff side of the National Whitley Council, of the extent to which concessions recommended by the committee for the minor and manipulative grades may be extended in the service.]
I do not think there will be time for that. In any case, if there is to be a discussion I think it would be better if the matter were taken up by the staff side of the Whitley Council with the Treasury.
I do not think that is at all likely before the House rises, but there is to be a Bill on the matter, which will provide occasion for a Debate, although I do not think it can come up until after the Summer Recess.
Since the right hon. Gentleman invited me and my hon. Friends to show him our usefulness, may I draw his attention to the Motion on the Order Paper in relation to the railwaymen's pay claim?
[That this House, recognising the justice of the railwaymen's claim for an increase of 10s. per week, calls upon the Government to introduce legislation to reduce the compensation payable to former railway shareholders so as to make it easier for the Railway Executive to grant this claim.]
Although we are all delighted that the railwaymen's problems are not on the front pages of the Press, I beg the Lord President to remember that they are still vital, and likely to be back again on the front pages of the papers. May we have a Debate on this matter before a demand for further emergency regulations arises?