Yes, Sir. May I first say something about today? After the business of Supply has been completed tonight and the formal Ways and Means Resolutions, we desire to obtain:
As I have previously informed the House, the Government hope to complete all essential business so that the House can adjourn for the Summer Recess before the August Bank Holiday. If we make satisfactory progress and complete today's business and also the business announced for tomorrow, I think it will be possible to adjourn on Friday, 1st August, if agreement can be secured to a Motion to suspend the Four o'Clock Rule on that day and take the Motion for the Summer Recess after the debate on Germany has been completed.
The House will remember that the Adjournment Motion on the last day before the Recess is the occasion when private Members have a chance to raise a number of topics. The gist of this suggestion is that, instead of having that done on Saturday by sitting specially, we should extend the Friday Sitting for the appropriate number of hours and so conclude the business of the House that night without being very late.
As I say, we would propose that the House do sit until nine o'clock on Friday of next week in order to give hon. Members an opportunity of raising matters in which they are interested, as is customary on the day the House adjourns for a recess. In that event, of course, it would not be necessary to meet on Saturday, 2nd August.
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that it would be convenient to take the debate on the Adjournment before the Summer Recess on the Friday rather than on the Saturday. With regard to the business on Tuesday and Wednesday on the financial and economic situation, do the Government propose to put a Motion on the Order Paper? With regard to the proposed Motion to be debated on Thursday and Friday, I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman when that Motion will be available. It would be convenient if it could be on the Order Paper in good time.
Will the right hon. Gentleman make representations to his right hon. Friends that progress in the various matters which are before us would be greatly assisted if there were not Motions to report progress or for the adjournment of the debate during the course of the consideration of Motions, as that only interrupts the business of the House and results in it being brought to an unduly early conclusion? Will the right hon. Gentleman, in order to assist hon. Members on their attitude to Motions for the Adjournment, state the date when it is proposed to re-assemble after the Summer Recess?
As there seems to be every indication that in the economic debate an important statement on behalf of Her Majesty's Government will be made either by the Chancellor of the Exchequer or by the Prime Minister, will it not be possible to have that statement on Tuesday? Otherwise, much of our debate will be more academic than real and, as we shall be rising for the Summer Recess almost immediately afterwards, there will not be an opportunity to focus the attention of this House and of the public on these important issues.
In view of the fact that quite obviously there will not be time to debate the Motion standing in my name, may I ask my right lion. Friend, for the purposes of record, whether he will tell hon. Members opposite that the Government will not set up a committee to inquire into hon. Members' salaries and allowances?
On a point of order. I endeavoured to put down a Question so that the right hon. Gentleman might give the information that it is not the intention of the Government to set up a committee, but I was unable to put that on the Order Paper.
Further to that point of order. I am trying some other way; that is why I am asking my right hon. Friend whether he will convey the information to the Leader of the Opposition, so that the House may be officially aware of it, in view of the fact that the Leader of the Opposition has conveyed it to his hon. Friends.
May I ask the Leader of the House why it is now proposed to issue a White Paper on the steel industry in the last week of the Session? Is he aware that we were promised that a Bill would be presented to this House at the end of January? As the White Paper presumably will contain in broad outline the measures by which the Government propose to deal with the steel industry, it would obviously be desirable and in conformity with all precedent that that should be debated on the first opportunity. Plainly we shall have no opportunity of debating this White Paper, as it will be presented in the last few days of the Session; therefore, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman why this is being done?
Before my right hon. Friend replies, may I ask whether the right hon. Member for Vauxhall (Mr. G. R. Strauss) is accurate in his reference to the last week of the Session? Do I understand that we are proroguing?
No, we are adjourning. It is quite true that we may not have time to debate it before we rise at the end of next week, but we shall have plenty of time to study it thereafter.
May I ask why this proposal was not put before us two or three months earlier, since the Government have had a great deal of time? Or is its only purpose—and it appears to me to be the only conceivable purpose—that the right hon. Gentleman is anxious to appease the extremists on his own back benches during the Summer Recess?
Will it be possible to allow any extra time on Tuesday and Wednesday on the debate on economic affairs, in the same way as my right hon. Friend has promised it may be possible to give extra time on foreign affairs on Thursday and Friday, in view of the fact that very many hon. Members on both sides of the House want to take part in the debate on economic affairs?
Can the right hon. Gentleman say when it is proposed to have the debate on the White Paper on steel? I presume that, as in the case of the White Paper on transport, it is submitted to the House with the intention of having a debate on it. I agree with my right hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. G. R. Strauss) and I think that the Leader of the House should declare the intentions of the Government as to a debate.
Of course, if it is a White Paper to say that the Government do not propose to proceed with this silly idea, there would be a lot to be said for not discussing it, but I did not gather that that was so. If the White Paper is a declaration of policy, surely the right hon. Gentleman will agree that arrangements must be made for a debate.
May I repeat my question? Would it not be for the convenience of Government supporters if the Leader of the House could tell them—if he is not prepared to tell the Opposition—because these things leak out—on which nights he proposes to introduce new business after 10 o'clock? Is it not the case that new discussions entered upon after 10 o'clock at night are likely to lead to prolonged debate, and should they not be started at the normal time of 3.30?
Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that there would be ample time next week to debate the White Paper on steel and a variety of other matters if the Motion for the ratification of the German Contractual Agreement were postponed until after the Summer Recess? Will he consult the Foreign Secretary in order to assure himself that there is really no urgency about this matter at all? Hardly any other countries have yet ratified the agreement. Germany has not yet decided whether she has legal power to ratify it. Why should this House deprive itself of the opportunity of doing urgent business in order to give priority to business which is highly controversial and by no means urgent?
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that last November, in Strasbourg, the Home Secretary undertook that the Government would do everything in their power to have the affairs of the Council of Europe discussed in this Parliament and, since the Government have given no time at all during the year for that discussion, what do they propose to do about this broken undertaking?
On a point of order. I had only half stated my question. May I beg of you, Sir, that I may complete it, so that you can judge whether or not it is in order. The question is whether, when the Steel Bill or anything else comes to be discussed in this House, there are not further commitments to the brewers to be taken into account by the Government?
As the additional dollar cost of maintaining British troops on the Continent of Europe may be very high after ratification, and as this will have a close bearing upon the economic situation, and especially upon the balance of payments, shall we be told on Tuesday what is the figure?
I am asking the question now so that the right hon. Gentleman may be aware of it, because quite recently, in answer to a Question of mine, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said that this would receive the active consideration of the Foreign Secretary; and as the figure may be anything from £100 million to £140 million a year, it has a direct bearing on the balance of payments problem.
In view of the fact that the Gracious Speech from the Throne is still valid at the end of the Session, is it proposed to carry it forward to the new Session, or shall we have a new Speech repeating the promises made then?