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Business of the House

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th May 1957.

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Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South 12:00 am, 9th May 1957

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will state the business for next week?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

Yes, Sir. The business for next week will be as follows:

MONDAY, 13TH MAY—Supply [13th Allotted Day]: Committee.

Debate on the Navy Estimates. 1957–58.

TUESDAY, 14TH MAY—Supply [14th Allotted Day]: Committee.

Debate on the Army Estimates, 1957–58.

WEDNESDAY, 15TH MAY—Committee stage of the National Health Service Contributions Bill.

Report and Third Reading of the Magistrates' Courts Bill [Lords].

THURSDAY, 16TH MAY—Supply [15th Allotted Day]: Committee.

Debate on Disarmament.

FRIDAY, 17TH MAY—Consideration of Private Members' Motions.

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman when we may expect from the Government a statement on the use by British shipping of the Suez Canal?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

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.

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

Does the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that this matter is getting extremely urgent? Can he say when such a statement is likely to be made?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

It will be made as soon as convenient and I will certainly discuss it this evening, when my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister returns, with him and with the Foreign Secretary. I could not give an exact time. It is to be remembered that the Canal Users' Association is still in session.

Photo of Mr Philip Noel-Baker Mr Philip Noel-Baker , Derby South

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—

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

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.

Photo of Mr George Wigg Mr George Wigg , Dudley

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Surely, as the Lord Privy Seal went out of his way to answer Question No. 46, my right hon. Friend must be in order then in asking a supplementary question.

Photo of Mr William Morrison Mr William Morrison , Cirencester and Tewkesbury

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.

Photo of Mr Aneurin Bevan Mr Aneurin Bevan , Ebbw Vale

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I understood that the right hon. Gentleman had actually given the content of the Answer to Question No. 46, or are we to assume that it is not, in fact, the answer?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

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.

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

Can the Lord Privy Seal give us an assurance that we shall have a statement on this matter early next week, if not before?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

We cannot say until we know the result of the meeting of the Canal Users' Association. One vital feature of this is to work with our partners. I am also not prepared to give a definite date until we have discussed it with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister.

Photo of Mr Hugh Fraser Mr Hugh Fraser , Stafford and Stone

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?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I had better see what my hon. Friend puts on the Order Paper before I make up my mind.

Photo of Mr John Hynd Mr John Hynd , Sheffield, Attercliffe

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?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

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.

Photo of Miss Irene Ward Miss Irene Ward , Tynemouth

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether he can let me have an answer to the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper, having regard to the fact that I acceded very gladly to the request of the Prime Minister?

[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.]

May I also ask, in view of the fact that apparently my right hon. Friend is against what I want to do, whether the ten o'clock rule will be suspended on Monday night?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

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.

Photo of Mr Jo Grimond Mr Jo Grimond , Orkney and Shetland

Further to that, has the Lord Privy Seal noticed an all-party Motion standing on the Order Paper, asking for an inquiry into the circumstances in which Admiral North was dismissed from his command? If so, can he allow time for that?

[That this House calls upon Her Majesty's Government to hold an inquiry into the circumstances in which Admiral Sir Dudley North was relieved of his command in 1940.]

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

I do not see any opportunity, at this stage of the Session, for debating that separately, but I do see an opportunity of raising the matter, if hon. Members wish to do so, on Monday.

Photo of Viscount  Hinchingbrooke Viscount Hinchingbrooke , South Dorset

Is the business of the House next week such that if a Government statement is made on the Suez Canal, an emergency debate might be arranged?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

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.

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

Perhaps I may say that if an early statement were made we should almost certainly require to change the business.

Photo of Mr George Wigg Mr George Wigg , Dudley

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?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

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.

Photo of Mr George Wigg Mr George Wigg , Dudley

The right hon. Gentleman's generosity is at the expense of the Opposition.

Photo of Mr George Wigg Mr George Wigg , Dudley

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?

Photo of Mr R.A. Butler Mr R.A. Butler , Saffron Walden

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.