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Business Of The House

Volume 440: debated on Thursday 17 July 1947

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Perhaps the House will permit me, before I announce the Business for next week, to say how very glad we all are to see the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition back in his place. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] The right hon. Gentleman has made a remarkable recovery, and all the signs are that we shall have trouble from him very soon. However, we are delighted to see him back in his place.

The Business for next week will be as follows:—

Monday, 21st July—Supply (13th allotted day), Committee. Consideration of the Second Report of the Committee of Public Accounts which relates to currency losses in Europe; and, afterwards, a Debate on the Army, with special reference to recruiting, training and conditions of administration of the Regular and auxiliary forces; Motion to approve the Greenwich Hospital accounts.

Tuesday, 22nd July—Supply (14th allotted day) Committee. Debate on Scottish Affairs; Report and Third Reading of the Education (Exemptions) (Scot- land) Bill [Lords]; Second Reading of the Acquisition of Land (Authorisation Procedure (Scotland) Bill [Lords]; and of the Local Government (Scotland) Bill [Lords].

Wednesday, 23rd July—Consideration of Lords Amendments to the Transport Bill.

Thursday, 24th July—Supply (15th allotted day), Committee. The Ministry of Supply Estimate will be considered. Motion to approve the National Health Service (Superannuation) Regulations.

Friday, 25th July—Committee and remaining stages of the Wellington Museum Bill (Lords) and the Crown Proceedings Bill (Lords); consideration of the Lords Amendments to the Statistics of Trade Bill and to the Industrial Organisation Bill; and, if there is time, Report and Third Reading of the Companies Bill (Lords).

With regard to Tuesday's business, it may be of assistance to the House if I say that, so far as the Opposition are concerned, on Scottish affairs we hope to discuss Education and Fisheries. May I ask the Lord President whether his attention has been called to the Motion standing in the names of a number of my hon. and right hon. Friends with respect to the Grantham Factories, and whether the Government propose to Dive time for a discussion of that Motion?

[ That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire into the allocation of the Grantham Factories in 1945 to Grantham Productions, Limited, now in liquidation, and their re-allocation in 1947 to 6 financial syndicate headed by Mr. F. S. Cotton; and to report the result of their inquiries to the House.]

The President of the Board of Trade replied to Questions about that today, and, in the light of his answers, I do not think myself that it is a subject to which time should be given. It could, of course, be raised on a Supply Day.

If I may say so, the right hon. and learned Gentleman's replies to Questions did not affect, in any way, the force of the Motion on the Order Paper, but, if anything, they reinforced the arguments of that Motion. May I ask, therefore, whether the right hon. Gentleman will consider giving time for such Motion to be debated, because I think is is most unusual for a Government to allow a Motion like that to stand on the Order Paper?

I do not think so, and I should think that there are precedents. Time is very tight, and there really is not the time available. Moreover, it can be raised in Supply if it is so wished. I think it would be out of proportion to allocate special time to it.

I do not know what the Government's view is, but the Opposition view is that it is not right to allow a Motion of that sort to remain on the Order Paper, and if the Government are not prepared to make time available, we shall be prepared to make the necessary arrangements.

Will the right hon. Gentleman look up whether there is any precedent whore, when a Motion has been put down in the name of four Privy Councillors and other hon. Members, making the strongest allegations about the conduct of a Government Department, the Government have refused to allow a Debate upon it?

I am afraid that that rather ponderous language really does not affect it, and I say that, taking the matter in its proper setting and relative importance, I cannot see that this matter is one to which special time should be allocated, especially when it can be deal with in Supply.

May I put the question in a manner which the Lord President will not describe as ponderous? Is it not the duty of the Government to allow a Debate on a Motion which must, so long as it remains on the Order Paper and is not debated, be a reflection upon the conduct of the Minister?

So far as I know, my right hon. Friend does not mind the Motion remaining on the Paper, and I do not know that he feels that his honour is involved. Perhaps that will put the noble Lord's mind at rest about that aspect of the matter.

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the House when the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be making a statement about the news given in the Press yesterday regarding the convertibility of sterling, and the statement in "The Times" that all the correspondence between the Chancellor and the State Department has been published in the United States?

Could not the Government say something about this important matter? Are we only to get this news from the Press?

The hon. and gallant Gentleman can put down a Question and get an answer on the point.

May I ask the Lord President if he will give the earliest possible notice of the Recess, owing to the lack of shipping accommodation and the serious difficulty of obtaining cabins for the journey to Northern Ireland?

I had hoped to tell the House today, but we are not yet sure. It must depend upon how Business goes, but if I can manage it, I will tell the House next week.

Can my right hon. Friend say whether he will find time for a Debate on the Motion standing on the Order Paper in the names of the hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby), and other hon. Members on both sides of the House, on the U.S.A. Loan Agreement?

[ That, in the opinion of this House, His Majesty's Government should now request the Government of the United States to release us from those obligations under Article 9 of the Loan Agreement and the Final Act of Bretton Woods which prevent us from expanding our Imperial trade.]