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Business Of The House

Volume 465: debated on Thursday 2 June 1949

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May I ask the Leader of the House whether he has any statement to make about the Business for the week after the Recess?

Yes, Sir. The Business for the first week after the Whitsun Recess will be as follows:

Tuesday, 21st June—Supply (17th allotted Day): Committee. Debate on the Holiday and Tourist Industries and the administration of the Catering Wages Act.

Wednesday and Thursday, 22nd and 23rd June—Committee stage of the Finance Bill.

Friday, 24th June—Report and Third Readings of Private Members' Bills.

May I ask the Leader of the House whether, soon after the House reassembles after the Recess, he will find time for a discussion on the Oaksey Report, in view of the fact that the unqualified acceptance by the Government of its findings is not acceptable to many in the police force and, therefore, is not likely to attain the object which was intended when the Committee was set up?

On the pension points, regulations will be submitted in due course and will be debatable; they are subject to affirmative Resolution. On the other point, I hardly think I should be justified in providing a special day for a general Debate on the Report. If, however, the Opposition would wish to take it on a Supply day, that would be a matter for them.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when time will be made available to discuss the Motion standing in the names of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) and myself touching upon the question of trade union recognition for employees of this House?

[That, in the opinion of this House, the refusal of the Lord Great Chamberlain to consult with the Civil Service Union or other bona fide trade union regarding the terms and conditions of employment of the custodians and coal porters employed in and about the Palace of Westminster is not in accord with present day conceptions of industrial relationships, and is a matter for regret.]

I am not very familiar with the Motion, but I should not have thought it was a matter to which we should give time; and I am not quite clear how far the House is directly responsible for that matter. There is another place in the world where the hon. Gentleman might consider trade union recognition.

May I ask the Leader of the House whether, in view of the decision of the John Lewis Partnership, it would now be possible to give a day or part of a day—preferably a whole day—for the discussion of the Motion standing in the names of my right hon. and learned Friend and other Members of our party on the imposition of political tests in industry?

[That this House condemns the imposition of political tests for employees in all cases where the security of the State is not specifically concerned and records its view that such action has no place in a true democracy.]

I think that all parties in the House have made it perfectly clear, as the Minister of Labour has done, that we deprecate the course of action that has been taken. I doubt whether it would add to the situation if the House were to have a special Debate upon this matter.

Concerning Private Members' Bills, is the Lord President aware that two small but very valuable Bills relating to animal welfare, to which the House has given an unopposed Second Reading, have not yet reached their Committee stage? In order to prevent those Bills from being lost, would the right hon. Gentleman consider granting at least one extra day after Whitsun for Report and Third Readings of Private Members' Bills?

No, Sir. We came to an arrangement about the facilities for Private Members' Bills, to which I am afraid I cannot add.

When the Leader of the House tells us that Wednesday and Thursday in the week when we come back are allocated to the Committee stage of the Finance Bill, may we take it that he means that those are the first two days of those discussions?

Reverting to the question of Private Members' Bills, if the Lord President finds it impossible to give a fourth day for Report and Third Readings, would he consider postponing the third day for Report and Third Readings later than 8th July so that the Committee stage may continue longer?

No, Sir. There was a carefully-worked-out plan on this matter, to which I think we should adhere.

Further to the question by the Liberal Whip regarding political discrimination, is the Lord President aware that I have seen in the Press that the Prime Minister is likely to keep very questionable company in travelling in Europe, and will there be any political discrimination against him?

If the Paris conference has finished by the time the House resumes after the Recess, will arrangements be made for the Foreign Minister to make an early statement?

I do not want to be dogmatic, but I should have thought it likely that after the conclusion of the Council of Foreign Ministers in Paris, my right hon. Friend might make a statement to the House.

In view of the serious danger of political victimisation by private employers, the fact that Motions have been tabled by two political parties, and the fact that many Members on this side of the House are seriously concerned about the situation, will my right hon. Friend reconsider the point raised by the Chief Whip of the Liberal Party?

No, Sir. I think that the House, by contributions in Debate, has made perfectly clear its opinion; and I join with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour in saying that if those concerned are wise they will take notice of it. But I do not think it would add to the situation or to the dignity of the House that we should set a day aside for this purpose.

Is there not some confusion in the questions to the right hon. Gentleman regarding Private Members' Bills? Will not Standing Committee E continue and persist in its labours until 8th July, which is the third Friday on which Report Stages and Third Readings will take place?

I do not want to say too much in case I exhibit confusion myself, but I think that the hon. and gallant Gentleman is right and that that might be kept in mind.

Reverting again to the question about the Motion on political discrimination, will my right hon. Friend reconsider it in the light of these two facts: first, that the firm in question has proceeded with, and indeed extended, the matter since it was last raised in the House; and second, that the House on that occasion was considerably limited in the expression of its opinion by its Rules of Order arising out of the fact that the Debate was then on the Motion for the Adjournment, and that the only way in which the House can make itself competent to make its views felt and known in the country is by the discussion of a Motion such as one or other of those that are on the Order Paper?

The only change that has happened is that the firm or partnership, or whatever it may be, has extended the doctrine to Fascists as well as to Communists. If I may say so, I do not think that that makes the situation any better or any worse; the principle remains.

With regard to the Oaksey Report, is my right hon. Friend aware that there is some concern on these benches regarding the recommendations, particularly concerning policemen who are about to retire; and is it not possible for my right hon. Friend to allow time for discussion on the remainder of the Report, which evidently is to be implemented by the Government, particularly as the police do not have an authorised trade union through which the matter can be discussed?

I understand that that point comes within the regulations, and that a statement will be made about it. Presumably it would be debatable at that time.

Is the Lord President aware that when I questioned him about Private Members' time, I was perfectly aware that Standing Committee E could continue sitting until 8th July; but is he also aware that there is a certain amount of congestion in the Committee upstairs and that unless the time is extended, it may not be possible, even by 8th July, to complete the Committee stage of those Bills now held up?

I appreciate that it is a long time since there was Private Members' time in the House, and we are all liable to be somewhat mentally stale on the point, but I call my hon. Friend's attention to the fact that Private Members' time was not instituted necessarily for the purpose of passing all the Private Members' Bills that were introduced. There was always a "murder of the innocents," and there will be again; and perhaps there will be a murder of the guilty as well.