Business of the House

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th November 1960.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South 12:00 am, 24th November 1960

May I ask the leader of the House to 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, 28TH NOVEMBER, AND TUESDAY, 29TH NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Licensing Bill and Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

WEDNESDAY, 30TH NOVEMBER—Second Reading of the Rating and Valuation Bill and Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

THURSDAY, 1ST DECEMBER—Consideration of the Motion to approve the draft National Assistance (Determination of Need) Amendment Regulations, 1960; and the Motions relating to Double Taxation (Death Duties and Income Tax).

FRIDAY, 2ND DECEMBER—Consideration of private Members' Motions.

MONDAY, 5TH DECEMBER—The proposed business will be the Second Reading of the Betting Levy Bill.

Photo of Mr Hugh Gaitskell Mr Hugh Gaitskell , Leeds South

Will the right hon. Gentleman find time for a debate before the meeting of the N.A.T.O. Council in December? Secondly, can he tell us when the Government propose to announce the names of the United Kingdom delegation to the Conference on the Central African Federation?

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

Yes, Sir. I will inform the House as soon as I can, either through myself or one of my right hon. Friends, on the latter point.

On the former point, I will note the request of the Leader of the Opposition and discuss it with my right hon. Friend.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

Has the right hon. Gentleman's attention been drawn to a Motion standing on the Order Paper in the names of some of my hon. and right hon. Friends and myself, which relates to the Licensing Bill?

[That, notwithstanding anything in paragraph (2) of the Standing Order (Standing Committees (Constitution and Powers)), Clause 6 of and Schedule 2 to the Licensing Bill be considered by a Standing Committee so constituted as to comprise all Members sitting for constituencies in Wales and Monmouthshire as if such Clause and Schedule had been a separate Bill, which after committal by the House had been so allocated; and that when the provisions committed to the Standing Committee so constituted and the remaining provisions committed to any other Committee have been reported to the House, the Bill shall be considered as if it had been reported to the House as a whole.]

Will the right hon. Gentleman give us an opportunity of debating this matter before the Bill is taken next week? If he cannot find time for that, in fairness, and to carry out the intention of the House under Standing Order No. 58, as there is a matter relating exclusively to Wales and Monmouthshire, will he agree that the Bill should be considered in Committee by a Committee comprised of hon. Members sitting for constituencies in Wales and Monmouthshire?

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

No, Sir. I cannot give an assurance to the right hon. Gentleman. I think that I had better be quite definite on the matter. The Government's proposals are included in the Licensing Bill and they will be able to be discussed, in a long debate which will occupy two days, by Welsh Members if they so desire. Moreover, the provisions in the Bill allow for local option in Wales and for Welsh opinion to express itself.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

Would the right hon. Gentleman not agree that if the Government had taken what we think is the right course, since this is an Act of Parliament which, in effect, is now to be repealed, and it relates exclusively to Wales and Monmouthshire, and if they had done the fair thing by Wales and Monmouthshire and had taken this as a separate issue, Standing Order No. 58 would have applied anyhow? Is it not a denial of an opportunity to express their views to hon. Members who have been elected for constituencies in Wales and Monmouthshire, an opportunity which the House, by the passing of Standing Order No. 58, intended that they should have?

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

There will be ample opportunity for hon. Members who represent Wales and Monmouthshire to express their opinions on the various stages of the Licensing Bill.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

With respect, Mr. Speaker, may I put it to you that under Standing Order No. 58, which is a Standing Order approved by the House, it was intended that, in a matter like this, relating exclusively to Wales and Monmouthshire, hon. Members representing constituencies in Wales and Monmouthshire should have an opportunity of considering it and expressing to the House the considered views of representatives of Wales and Monmouthshire? Will you intervene in this matter to protect the rights conferred by Parliament upon hon. Members representing Wales and Monmouthshire, which the Government are now taking away from us?

Photo of Sir Ronald Bell Sir Ronald Bell , Buckinghamshire South

Before you give your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, may I point out that some of Her Majesty's subjects living in other parts of the United Kingdom may like a drink when they go to Wales and Monmouthshire?

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

I had better keep off drink and concern myself with the Standing Order. I cannot accept that Standing Order as one applicable to the case which the right hon. Member for Llanelly raises. It relates to a whole Bill relating exclusively to Wales and Monmouthshire.

Photo of Mr James Griffiths Mr James Griffiths , Llanelli

With respect, Mr. Speaker, this is where we think the Government are being unfair and unjust to Wales. The House passed the original Act as applying exclusively to Wales and Monmouthshire and the Government are now pushing it into another Bill and depriving us of our opportunity to express our views on behalf of Wales and Monmouthshire.

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

I understand what the right hon. Gentleman is saying, but it does not amount to a matter of order.

Photo of Mr Gilbert Mitchison Mr Gilbert Mitchison , Kettering

Is the Leader of the House aware that part of one Scottish Bill was sent specially to the Scottish Standing Committee and that in another case the whole the then Teachers' Superannuation Bill was sent to a Standing Committee upstairs but Scottish Members made their feelings so clearly known in that Standing Committee that the right hon. Gentleman himself had to move that part of the Bill, which was already in that Standing Committee, be sent to the Scottish Standing Committee? Does the right hon. Gentleman really think that Welsh Members are any less capable in this matter of making their feelings known than are Scottish Members?

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

There is not an exact analogy between the Scottish Grand Committee and the Welsh Committee.

Photo of Mr Thomas Jones Mr Thomas Jones , Merionethshire

Does the Leader of the House know what Gladstone said in 1881? May I be—

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

I do not think that Mr. Gladstone was speaking to the business for next week.

Photo of Mr Thomas Jones Mr Thomas Jones , Merionethshire

Gladstone lived in Wales and, therefore, he could interpret beforehand what would happen eighty years later. This is what he said: The case of Wales is somewhat peculiar. Undoubtedly, it has not in the past been the habit of Parliament to look to Welsh opinion or to Welsh interests as a distinct, independent factor in the Constitution of this country, as it has been in regard to England and Ireland. Wales has been regarded as a closer relation to ourselves than either Scotland or Ireland. But I am bound to say"— and I want the Leader of the House to notice this— that it appears to me that we have pushed these considerations too far. Mr. Gladstone says, further—

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

Order. I would dearly love, if I thought it consistent with my duty, to allow the hon. Member to continue, but I must not create so bad a precedent. Perhaps the hon. Member can confine himself now to next week's business or, if not, cease.

Photo of Mr William Yates Mr William Yates , The Wrekin

May I refer to England for a moment? First, may I ask whether my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House is able to announce when the Government intend to bring forward legislation to give better protection to the tenant farmer whose farm or homestead is forcibly expropriated either by the Government or by a local authority?

Secondly, will my right hon. Friend announce when the Government intend to bring in legislation to give better protection for the small saver who deposits his money with people who call themselves finance houses? These two matters were the subjects of a Private Members' Bill last Session, but I have searched diligently in the Gracious Speech and I can find no reference to them.

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

I will have conversations with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture on the first point and with my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the second point, and I will communicate again with my hon. Friend.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

Has the attention of the right hon. Gentleman been drawn to a Motion signed by myself and about 80 of my hon. Friends calling in question his refusal to recommend the exercise of the Royal Prerogative in the case of two young people who were executed last week after being convicted of capital murder in circumstances where it was admitted there was no intention to kill?

[That this House places on record its profound regret that the Secretary of State for the Home Department failed to advise Her Majesty the Queen to exercise Her Royal Prerogative of mercy in the cases of Francis Forsyth and Norman Harris, the first of whom was only a month or two over eighteen years of age and the other twenty-three years of age, both of whom were said by the learned counsel who prosecuted them to have had no intention to kill, and one of whom, namely, Norman Harris, was admitted to have struck no blow and was not present when any fatal act of violence was committed.]

Is the right hon. Gentleman further aware that the Motion has been put down in response to his own intimation that such a Motion would have to be put down before the House could take cognisance of the matter or he could make any explanation? Will he, therefore, consider whether he could find a short time—it need not take very long—for discussion of the Motion in the course of next week?

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

I have seen the Motion and, naturally, I regard it with the utmost seriousness. I could not on this occasion guarantee to find time. I could only guarantee to give consideration to what the hon. Member has raised.

Photo of Mr Maurice Edelman Mr Maurice Edelman , Coventry North

In view of the crisis in the motor industry and the news this afternoon that 18,000 workers of the Ford Motor Company have been put on short time, will the Leader of the House give Government time for a general debate on the present very serious situation?

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

All I can do is to note the seriousness with which the hon. Member puts this matter forward.

Photo of Brigadier Sir John Smyth Brigadier Sir John Smyth , Lambeth Norwood

Would my right hon. Friend consider providing time for a short debate on war disability pensions, which interest hon. Members on both sides of the House? The National Insurance and Industrial Injuries benefits have been discussed at some length this week, but we have not had an opportunity of discussing war disability pensions at all.

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

I will note my hon. and gallant Friend's request.

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

May I refer to the Licensing Bill? Whatever the views of hon. Members who represent Welsh constituencies about the desirability or otherwise of Sunday opening, there is considerable feeling among the people primarily concerned about this in Wales that Welsh Members should have the opportunity of registering their own views and should not find them swallowed up among the views of a large number of other hon. Members who have only a secondary or cursory interest in what is being discusssed.

In view of the precedent quoted by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison), although we understand that the Welsh Grand Committee is not an exact analogy, may I ask whether the Leader of the House would receive a deputation of a small number of Welsh Members to consider whether some way could not be found for the expression of Welsh opinion on an issue which is undoubtedly primarily a matter for Wales and Monmouthshire?

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

The main method of expressing these views would be on Second Reading, but it would be wrong for me not to say that I would be willing to accept an invitation to receive a deputation of Welsh Members. I should be very glad to do so.

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

Thanks to the various details which have kept me busy the whole day, I have not yet had the chance to review my engagements. I will certainly see hon. Gentlemen at the earliest opportunity.

Mr. J. Griffiths: Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that his right hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Home Department, replying to questions from myself and others this afternoon, said that the Minister for Welsh Affairs had had consultation with the Council for Wales and Monmouthshire on this matter. Will the right hon. Gentleman undertake that the Minister for Welsh Affairs will intervene in the debate and tell the House what advice he has received from the Council?

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

I know that my right hon. Friend the Minister for Welsh Affairs is very interested in the Bill and in this proposal, and that he will be present during the course of the debate. I will certainly put it to him that there is a wish that he should take part. I cannot go further than that today.

Photo of Mr Cyril Osborne Mr Cyril Osborne , Louth Borough

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether, as in the debate on the Address in reply to the Gracious Speech foreign affairs occupied only half a day, and a large part of that time was taken up over the question of submarine bases, he will try to find time for a debate on Anglo-Chinese affairs? I have in mind our export trade in the Far East. In China, there are 650 million people who can have a great influence on our export trade, and I feel that this question ought to be discussed. Will my right hon. Friend try to find time for a debate before Christmas, perhaps only half a day?

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

All I can do is to discuss this with my noble Friend and my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal and inform my hon. Friend.

Photo of Mr Francis Bowles Mr Francis Bowles , Nuneaton

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he recalls that when, three weeks ago, I drew his attention to a Motion of Privilege in my name on the Order Paper, and stated that 150 hon. Members of this honourable House had been invited by the Government of the Federation of Central Africa through some kind of public relations consultants to go there and see things for themselves in connection with matters that are to be discussed in this House, he asked for time to consider it and said that he would make inquiries? I did not raise the matter last week in order to give the right hon. Gentleman an opportunity to make his inquiries. Has he now made them, and, if so, can he say whether I can have my Motion debated?

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

I have nothing very much more to add to what has been stated by me in answer to Questions from time to time about certain organisations which exist, but I think that the relevant and important point is that it must really be a matter for each Member of Parliament to decide whether he will accept this or that invitation. I do not think, from the exploration that I have made, that the invitations are quite as numerous as the hon. Gentleman suggested. However, I warmly suggest to hon. Members that they should investigate very closely the invitations which they receive, but I cannot deprive hon. Members of the right to decide for themselves.

Photo of Mr James Prior Mr James Prior , Lowestoft

Will my right hon. Friend consider finding time before Christmas for a debate—and, perhaps, then some action—on what a good many people feel to be the lowering of moral standards, which has been brought about by the publication of certain books, by films of a very low moral calibre, and also television programmes and the use of the mass medium of television for purposes of that sort? I think that on television, in particular, some of the programmes recently have been designed particularly to appeal to teen-agers—

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

Order. We cannot have policy speeches now. Perhaps the hon. Member will indicate just what he is asking about business.

Photo of Mr James Prior Mr James Prior , Lowestoft

Will my right hon. Friend find time for a debate on this subject before Christmas?

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

I do not know whether there will be an opportunity in Private Members' time, but clearly it is a very important issue.

Photo of Mr James Callaghan Mr James Callaghan Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

On the question of visits to Central Africa, we welcome what the Leader of the House has said. Is he aware that, although he says he does not think the visits are as extensive as was originally envisaged, £100,000 was voted for these visits during the course of a most acrimonious debate in the Federal Assembly in which allegations were tossed about that hon. Members of this House are being "bought" by these visits?

Is it not most undesirable that that sort of thing should happen? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that we should all like hon. Members of this House to be as fully informed on these very contentious matters as possible, and would it not be possible for Her Majesty's Government to take over these visits and for hon. Members to go out under the Government's auspices so that there would be no grounds for allegations that they were being "bought" by anybody?

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

I cannot interfere with what happens in another assembly, or under another Government. I had better not add to my statement at present, but I shall examine all the material put before me.

Photo of Mr Percy Collick Mr Percy Collick , Birkenhead

May I ask the Leader of the House when we may expect to receive the White Paper, embodying the Stedeford Report, on British Railways?

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

I have no statement to make on that subject today, but we will make a statement directly we are ready.

Photo of Mr Emrys Hughes Mr Emrys Hughes , South Ayrshire

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether it is the Government's intention to introduce a Motion in the House ratifying the agreement with the American Government about the Polaris submarine base? Is he aware that there is considerable discontent in Scotland about the Government's failure to come to the House about it, and that there is a demand by Conservative local authorities, the Churches and a vast volume of public opinion that Members of Parliament should have an opportunity of putting their points of view and of voting on the issue? Will he give us an assurance that hon. Members will have that opportunity?

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

No, Sir; I cannot make any further statement on the Polaris question today.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Easington

Did not the right hon. Gentleman say on two previous occasions that this was a very important issue, and is it not a fact that he did not demur when the suggestion was made that we might have a debate on it? In view of his statement that we might be having a debate on the proposed N.A.T.O. nuclear concept which General Norstad has advanced, is it possible that we might be able to discuss the Polaris issue in that context, or is there any possibility at all that we might have a separate Polaris debate? Or is the matter to be ignored? May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman regards it as an embarrassment to some of us that a request for this debate should be advanced?

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

No, Sir; there is no possible embarrassment in a debate. The difficulty is in finding the time. I have already undertaken, in reply to the Leader of the Opposition, to look into the possibility of having a debate prior to the N.A.T.O. meeting. I have previously told the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Easington (Mr. Shinwell) and his individual channel that there is a great deal to be said for a debate on other matters, including Polaris. The difficulty is to find time. I think that we had better go on considering the matter.

Photo of Mr Sydney Allen Mr Sydney Allen , Crewe

Has the Leader of the House observed on the Order Paper a Motion signed by a number of hon. Members on his side of the House relating to the sorry plight of the railway superannuitants who have had no increase in pension, and is he aware that those superannuitants are supported by hon. Members on this side of the House? In view of the grave plight of these superannuitants, will the right hon. Gentleman find time for a short debate on this subject?

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

It is already getting late. I do not think that I had better make any further undertakings about finding time. However, I realise that this is an important matter.

Photo of Mr Michael Foot Mr Michael Foot , Ebbw Vale

Reverting to the question about the possibility of a debate on Polaris, does not the right hon. Gentleman think that the complicated questions associated with Polaris are even more important than the question of Sunday opening in Wales and Monmouthshire, and will he give us one good reason why this matter, which is causing such widespread and deep concern throughout the country as a whole, should not be debated inside the House of Commons immediately?

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

I welcome the hon. Gentleman's first question upon his return to the House. No doubt it will be the first of many. I see no objection at all to debating a subject like this. We have had a series of interchanges, and a great deal of information has been given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. It is simply a case of finding the time for such a debate, but I cannot take the matter further today.

Photo of Mr Charles Pannell Mr Charles Pannell , Leeds West

Still on the question of the Polaris base, is the Leader of the House aware that recently a functionary of the Russian Embassy made a speech, addressed to Scotland, against having the Polaris base there? Will he tell the House what direction Her Majesty's Government have given our envoys in Eastern Europe to engage in propaganda against Soviet bases there?

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

Order. The hon. Gentleman's question seems in no way to relate to business.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

In the last supplementary answer which the right hon. Gentleman gave, he referred to the fact that the Prime Minister had made certain statements on this subject. Will he bear in mind that it is now known that a great deal of the information which his right hon. Friend gave to the House on that occasion was mistaken—

Photo of Sir Harry Hylton-Foster Sir Harry Hylton-Foster , Cities of London and Westminster

Order. It really is insufferable from the point of view of the convenience of the House that hon. Gentlemen should ask questions at this time which do not relate to the business of the House. I should be obliged if the hon. Member would confine himself to the business of the House.

Photo of Mr Samuel Silverman Mr Samuel Silverman , Nelson and Colne

I hoped, Mr. Speaker, that my point was relevant, because I was about to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether that fact alone would not influence him to consider that, from the point of view of fairness to the Prime Minister himself, there ought to be an early Parliamentary opportunity for putting the House in possession of the full facts and allowing the House of Commons to express an opinion upon them.

Will the right hon. Gentleman also bear in mind—I hesitate to mention it again, but it is a fact which is relevant to be borne in mind—that on this particular question of defence the views held on this side of the House are not always the same and that, therefore, agreements which the right hon. Gentleman makes about defence subjects are not necessarily acceptable to the whole of the Opposition?

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

That is only too clear in defence matters. I cannot add to my previous replies, but I will, of course, take note of the importance of the subject.

Photo of Mr George Brown Mr George Brown , Belper

There should be no misunderstanding in view of what has been said. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition asked, on behalf of the Opposition, for time for a debate before the N.A.T.O. conference, so that we would have an opportunity to discuss this if we chose to do so, together with related subjects.

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

I note what the right hon. Gentleman has said. I have undertaken to have the necessary consultations.