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Business Of The House

Volume 466: debated on Thursday 23 June 1949

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

Monday, 27th June and Tuesday, 28th June—Conclusion of the Committee stage of the Finance Bill.

Wednesday, 29th June—Second Reading of the Airways Corporation Bill; and of the Patents and Designs Bill [Lords], and Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolutions.

Thursday, 30th June—Supply (18th Allotted Day); Committee. Debate on Industry and Employment in Scotland, with particular reference to Agriculture, Food and Transport.

Friday, 1st July—Report and Third Readings of Private Members' Bills.

During the week the House will be asked to consider the Motions to approve the Draft Police Pensions Regulations and similar Regulations for Scotland.

I would ask the Leader of the House whether he does not think that Wednesday's business is rather heavy. I understand that both Bills are likely to involve some considerable discussion. I presume that this is the only day on which the right hon. Gentleman can put down the Draft Police Pensions Regulations. We have been told at Question Time that there is a great deal of interest in that matter in all parts of the House. Could some re-arrangement be considered so as not to take the Draft Police Pensions Regulations at a very late hour?

My difficulty is that the regulations are timed to operate from 1st July. We must get them by that date. I thought, contrary to what the right hon. Gentleman has said, that Wednesday's programme was pretty light. The Airways Corporation Bill is limited to merging two of the Airways Corporations. The Patents and Designs Bill is a technical Measure which everybody will understand. I did not think there was much controversy about it. I was therefore hoping that those two Measures would be dealt with fairly expeditiously, so that the House could get to the Draft Police Pensions Regulations at a reasonably early hour. We are as I say, in the difficulty that they operate from 1st July.

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman's optimism on the Patents Bill is justified. I understand that there were about 100 Amendments in the other place.

For which tribute, many thanks. I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, a question in connection with the Draft Police Pensions Regulations. Can you give me any guidance about the extent to which it will be in order to discuss the recommendations of the Oaksey Committee, about which Questions were asked today, so far as they affect police pensions?

I have been asked to give a Ruling on this point, and I have looked the matter up. These draft regulations implement only the recommendations of the Oaksey Report dealing with pensions. Only the part of that Report dealing with pensions can be discussed in the Debate upon the regulations. That, of course, leaves out all matters connected with pay.

Can the Leader of the House give an assurance that there will be adequate time for discussion of the Police Pensions Regulations in view of the fact that many members of the Police Force are not too happy about them and that the least they can expect is that the regulations will be adequately discussed in this House before they are brought into operation?

It is really up to the House as to how far we can deal reasonably expeditiously with the other Bills. While I have no right, and would not presume to order the House in that respect, I would, nevertheless, say that there was reality in what was said by the hon. Member, and I very much hope that we can get co-operation generally with a view to handling the other business reasonably expeditiously so that there can be fairly good time for the discussion of the Police Pensions Regulations.

Can my right hon. Friend say if time will be given to discuss the Interim Report of the Leasehold Committee, which deals with the subject of business premises?

I appreciate that that is a matter of very great importance and intense interest. I understand that a Question is down to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister for Monday. Perhaps we might await what he says. The Report has not been in the hands of the Government for a long time—it is quite recent—and we have not yet made up our minds about it, so that I am afraid that I cannot give any clear reply to my hon. Friend. However, I will take note of what he says.

Has the Leader of the House yet been able to consider the question of giving time for discussion of the Motion in the name of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for North Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) and myself about trade union recognition for the custodians and other workers in the 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.] When I raised the matter previously, the Leader of the House said that he would be good enough to consider it, but in view of the obdurate refusal of the Lord Great Chamberlain to recognise the trade union to which all these men belong—

I withdraw the word "obdurate." In view of the refusal of the Lord Great Chamberlain to recognise the union, and in view of the much fuller information about the negotiations and so on, now in the hands certainly of all hon. Members on this side of the House, cannot the Leader of the House consider that Motion?

I have no recollection of promising the hon. Gentleman consideration on that point. I think I indicated that I thought a Debate would be inappropriate. These high officers who deal with these matters in relation to Parliament are not, I think, under Parliamentary control, and indeed, Mr. Speaker, the promptness with which you had something to say to the hon. Member indicates to me that it would be a difficult matter for the House to take up by way of Debate. I am, therefore, afraid that I cannot give an undertaking about it.

In relation to the intention of the Government to introduce a revised Supplies and Services Act, can the Leader of the House say whether that will take place in the lifetime of this Parliament?

My hon. Friend, who is a close student of political affairs, ought to know that the statement which somebody made at Blackpool, I understand, clearly related to the programme of a certain political party in relation to the next General Election and was not a pronouncement on behalf of this Government in this Parliament.

Can the Leader of the House say if an opportunity will be given very shortly to debate the new and very serious situation that is arising in China?

I should have thought it would be somewhat premature to discuss that situation at this juncture and that it might come later on. It is a matter really for the Opposition to consider in relation to Supply, but I should have thought it would have been injudicious as things stand.

As the Committee stage of the Finance Bill may be considerably protracted, is the decision to conclude the Committee stage on Tuesday irrevocable?

Yes, Sir. Somehow we must finish it on Wednesday. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] So that we can get it on to the Statute Book within the proper time. I really think four days for the Committee stage of the Finance Bill adequate. It all depends on whether the House uses its time with reasonable economy. If the House prefers to discuss at considerable length matters which are not of such importance as to justify it, which it is competent for the House to do, it means that the House must sit later. I am sorry about that, but it is not unusual for long sittings to take place on the Finance Bill under all sorts of Governments.

Is the Leader of the House aware that although the period of four days allotted is too short, on one of those days we shall be without the presence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer? In view of that, would it not be possible, in considering any re-arrangement of Business for Wednesday, to give us, say, half a day on Wednesday and allot the rest, perhaps, for the Police Pensions Regulations, which would then give ample time for discussion at a proper time of day?

I always regret any Member of a Front Bench contradicting another Member of a Front Bench. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) has represented to me that the Business on Wednesday is already overloaded. Therefore, I do not see how this half day can be given. I deplore this lack of unity on the Opposition Front Bench. I am afraid that that suggestion is not possible. As to the absence of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I do not see that that affects the issue of time one way or the other.

Does the Leader of the House recognise that discussions on the Finance Bill are among the most precious rights of hon. Members of this House, and is it not rather undesirable that he should lecture the House on the use of its time in relation to a particular matter? In addition, is he not risking the loss of all Wednesday's Business?

I do not think so. I think we shall be all right. My impression is that four days for the Committee stage is reasonable, particularly in relation to this Finance Bill. I really do not think we have been ungenerous, and if we can help each other, I am sure that we shall get through with adequate consideration of the essential points involved.

Reverting to the Motion referred to by my hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury (Mr. Platts-Mills), if we do not have a discussion on that Motion, will it be possible to have any discussion if the custodians and workers come out on strike for trade union recognition?

The hon. Gentleman's political party has done quite enough in that direction without starting it up in this House.

Referring again to the Finance Bill, is the Leader of the House aware that we are being given one day less this year than we had last year, and that even last year it was not possible to get through without at least one very late sitting? Is the right hon. Gentleman also aware that I made it quite plain that I was not suggesting the addition of half a day on the Finance Bill for Wednesday but a possible re-arrangement by which half a day on Wednesday could be devoted to the Finance Bill and the other half to the Police Pensions Regulations?

I am very glad that the right hon. Gentleman has put that point right. With regard to the time factor, my recollection is that the Finance Bill last year did warrant more Parliamentary time than this one. It has to be remembered that, by the decision of the House itself, whereas last year numerous Amendments to the Purchase Tax proposals could be moved, and were moved, the House this year has deliberately decided that such Amendments shall not be moved.

Could it be that the right hon. Gentleman's complacent remark that "we shall be all right" implies that the Government will use the Closure whenever they want to?

I would much sooner these things were done by sweet reasonableness, if we can, than by the Closure.

Would not things have been easier if we had not had quite such a long holiday at Whitsun?

The hon. and gallant Gentleman is very ungrateful. The hon. and gallant Gentleman and all other hon. Members opposite have enjoyed their so-called holiday as much as anybody else. I did, except that I got too much Government paper.