Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
It so happens that the matter to which the hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell) referred was in the answer to Question No. 46. I am sorry to disappoint the House, but I must tell hon. Members that I cannot give a final answer, partly because my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and my right hon. and learned Friend the Foreign Secretary are away, but mainly for this reason, that the Council of the Suez Canal Users' Association is still in session. Our discussions with the other countries concerned are thus not completed. A further statement will be made as soon as possible.
Since the Lord Privy Seal has answered Question No. 46, may I ask him whether the Minister of Transport and Civil Aviation was speaking for the Government last week at Working when he said that the effects of the blocking of the Canal on British industry had been trifling, and that the world had been seized with the importance—
Order, order. The right hon. Gentleman is now asking a question on the merits of this issue. The question of the Leader of the Opposition was very properly directed as to when we were to get a statement on that subject. I do not think we can argue the Canal on the business questions.
The way I heard it was that the Lord Privy Seal answered the question of the Leader of the Opposition and said that as the Council of the Canal Users' Association was still sitting, and for various other reasons, he could not give an answer today. It may have coincided with the Answer which would have been given to Question No. 46, but it was an answer to the question of the Leader of the Opposition. We cannot discuss the Canal on business questions.
The right hon. Gentleman is not in possession of the notes I have here for my answers to Questions. I was, in fact, construing the answer and giving it in shortened form.
Would my right hon. Friend consider giving a day to the Motion I propose to table after Questions, namely, that Her Majesty's Government should now instruct their directors of the Suez Canal Company to bring an injunction against those ships using the Canal for failure of payment of dues to that company?
May I ask the Leader of the House whether, as it does not appear that we are to be able to discuss either the Common Market or Euratom next week, he or his colleague the Prime Minister have made any progress with the promise that they gave to the House that they would, as soon as possible, provide hon. Members with an English translation of both those Treaties?
The translation is being delayed for physical reasons, but we are hoping to get it and make it available to hon. Members. Quite apart from that, we hope to discuss this through the usual channels, so as to have an opportunity of enlightening the minds of hon. Members on the matter.
[That, in the opinion of this House, in view of the Prime Minister's request to the honourable Member for Tynemouth to defer her Question on the refusal of a court of inquiry to Admiral North to Tuesday, 14th May, in order that he might answer it personally, and, in view of the fact that this is a matter which it would be in order to debate on the Naval Estimates, that those Estimates should he debated on 14th May and not 13th May; and that the Prime Minister should undertake, if necessary, to intervene in the debate, and that the Ten o'clock rule should be suspended.]
The answer to the latter part of my hon. Friend's question is that there will be a suspension until eleven o'clock. The answer to the earlier part is that the Navy Estimates will provide my hon. Friend with every opportunity of raising any subject she likes.
It is always possible, through the usual channels and through contact with my hon. Friends—as Leader of the House I would like to consult private Members as well as the Opposition—to adjust the business at any time to suit our convenience. We like to keep as far as we can to the programme announced, but we are always ready to discuss alterations if necessary.
Is the Leader of the House aware that the Government's decision to suspend the rule for only one hour on the Service Estimates is a grave abridgement of the rights of private Members, that, through their handling of the situation, having got Vote A, the Government have taken advantage of that position to suspend the rule for only one hour? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, although it is very probable that neither of the debates will need to go beyond eleven o'clock, by his action he has set a precedent which is a very grave infringement of the historic rights of private Members?
I have no desire to set any precedent which is a grave infringement. This year we have had three days on Votes on Account, two days on Supplementary Estimates, concerned mostly with the Army, and two days' debate on defence. We shall have had three days—we have had one already and there are two more—on the Estimates. We have taken all that into account in fixing the hour of eleven, but we have no intention of making that a precedent.
The days which have been taken have come out of the Opposition's Supply days. The Government have given an hour because they have the advantage of the guillotine, having got Vote A. Would the right hon. Gentleman be good enough, next Monday and Tuesday, to suspend the rule and then leave the conclusion of the debates to the good sense and the public spirit of hon. Members?
No. Sir. We are, of course, very much obliged to the Opposition when they meet us on Supply days, but I am not prepared to alter the decision that the suspension should be until eleven o'clock. I think that in the end it will be found that hon. Members have time to raise what they want, and I believe that it is more in the interests of private Members to get home than to stay here longer.