Skip to main content

Business Of The House

Volume 466: debated on Thursday 7 July 1949

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

The Business for next week will be as follows:

Monday, 11th July—Conclusion of the Report stage of the Finance Bill;

Consideration of Amendments to the Superannuation Bill, which are expected to be received from another place today;

Committee stage of Navy, Army and Air Expenditure, 1947–48; and

Consideration of the Motion to approve the Timber (Charges) (No. 10) Order.

Tuesday, 12th July—Third Reading of the Finance Bill until 7.30 p.m.;

Second Reading of the House of Commons (Indemnification of Certain Members) Bill, and, if agreeable to the House, the Committee and remaining stages;

Second Reading, if not already obtained, or further progress with the U.S.A. Veterans' Pensions (Administration) Bill [Lords]; and

Consideration of Lords Amendments to the Wireless Telegraphy Bill, and to the Coal Industry Bill.

Wednesday, 13th July—Second Reading of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill [Lords] until about 7.30 p.m., and Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution; and

Report and Third Reading of the Housing (Scotland) Bill.

Thursday, 14th July—Supply (22nd allotted Day); Committee. Debate on the Economic Situation.

Friday, 15th July—Report and Third Reading of the Prevention of Damage by Pests Bill [Lords];

Further progress will be made with the Colonial Loans Bill, and the Colonial Development and Welfare Bill, if not already disposed of; and

Second Reading of the Overseas Resources Development Bill, and Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

The Opposition having agreed to give one of their Supply Days for the Debate on the Economic Situation, the Government, in order to meet the general wishes of the House, are prepared to provide a second day for the Debate on Monday, 18th July. This re-arrangement will, however, result in our having to ask the House to facilitate the progress of Government Business on other days. I suggest to the House that it may be more convenient for Supply to be taken formally on Thursday, 14th July, and for the Debate on the Economic Situation to arise on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House.

I should, perhaps, say a word about the Indemnity Bill. The question whether a Member of Parliament can serve on the General Medical Council was raised when my hon. Friend the Member for Attercliffe (Mr. J. Hynd) attended his first meeting of the Council. The matter was brought to the attention of the Government, and, in order to remove any possibility of doubt, it was decided to introduce a Bill at once to indemnify him, and also his predecessor on the General Medical Council, my hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and Haddington (Mr. J. J. Robertson). As regards my hon. Friend the Member for West Islington (Mr. A. Evans), he recently became aware that certain small transactions between his firm and the Home Office might render him liable to disqualification as a Member of this House. He brought this to the notice of the Government immediately, and it was decided to cover him in this Bill.

Is the Lord President of the Council aware that a number of us in this House who represent mining constituencies are counting the number of Thursdays between now and the Summer Recess? Knowing the Lord President's sympathetic interest in the problem of giving miners whose cottages are damaged by mining subsidence some protection, may I ask if he now can give us a firm statement of when we can hope for legislation to deal with this matter?

I sympathise entirely with my hon. Friend, as she has indicated. The report of the committee on the matter is actively under consideration by the Government, but I cannot see the probability of Debate, or, indeed, legislation, at any rate, this side of the Summer Recess. Indeed, I cannot commit the Government in any way. I am sorry, but I can assure my hon. Friend that we shall make a statement as soon as we can, as to the Government's views on the matter, if that be possible.

Is the Lord President aware that the Minister of Fuel and Power, when the Coal Industry Nationalisation Act was debated on Second Reading in this House, said that it was possible on compassionate grounds for the National Coal Board to meet the charges where there was no legal right to claim them? If, as the Lord President said, it is not possible for the House to deal with this matter by way of legislation, will he use his influence, with that of the Minister of Fuel and Power, to persuade the National Coal Board to meet those charges on compassionate grounds until we have time in this House to make a complete job of the matter?

I am much obliged to my hon. Friend for drawing my attention to the point, and I will certainly look up the statement made by my right hon. Friend.

The Lord President referred to the Lords Amendments to the Superannuation Bill which, as he pointed out are not yet available in the Vote Office, and yet are due for discussion on Monday. Can he give us some indication when they are likely to be available? Will they be available today? Otherwise the time for studying them will be extremely short.

To be quite frank, I do not know what the nature of the Amendments is, but we expect that the Message from the Lords with their Amendments will be along some time today.

Can my right hon. Friend say when we are going to have a Debate on the Report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Press? Last week a jubilant Opposition were demanding this as a matter of urgency, and even offered to give up one of their Supply Days. Are we to understand that they have withdrawn that offer, and, if that is so, will my right hon. Friend give a Government Day for this Debate, because we are so desperately anxious to correct misapprehensions on the opposite side of the House?

It is the position, as I indicated to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition last week, that, unhappily, the Government have no day to give, and the Opposition kindly intimated that they would provide a Supply Day for this purpose. So far as I know, they have not altered that intention, and I imagine that the Debate will come along, and I hope that a good time will be had by all.

That is certainly our intention. When I raised the matter last week I did not, of course, know of the statement that was made by the Chancellor yesterday. We cannot keep pace with the Government.

Can my right hon. Friend say when he expects we shall have the White Paper on the recent Conference in Paris of the Foreign Ministers on the Berlin dispute, because it was offered as a kind of substitute for a Debate, and it is going to be rather out of date by the time we get it?

I shall be quite frank: I do not know; but I will make immediate inquiries of the Foreign Secretary with a view to its early presentation to the House.

Do the Government intend to give time to a Debate on and ratification of the Statute of Europe before we rise?

I am not quite sure whether it needs Parliamentary ratification, but I will follow the point up and make sure, because if it should do, it would be desirable that it should be ratified before the Assembly meets. If that is necessary—and I am not sure it is—we can consider that in relation to the projected Debate on foreign affairs.

Following the question about damage to miners' cottages through settlement, may I refer again to the question of the damage done to the country through the non-settlement of the dock strike, and ask my right hon. Friend whether he is going to give time for discussion of the Motion standing in my name and the names of three of my hon. Friends to which I referred just now? It is the only Motion on the Notice Paper that touches this question at all and the only chance that we shall have of a Debate that will put forward some constructive proposals. We are all of us now concerned in this, and I, perhaps, more than anyone else, by reason of the fact that now in Smithfield we have those splendid workers coming out on strike.

Can we be given time for a Debate on this Motion, in view of the grave urgency of the matter, and because we do see that here there is a chance of getting a settlement?

I am afraid I cannot provide time for that, and, if I may say so, I think it a rather quaint procedure that those who provoke strikes should require time to debate how to stop them.

On a point of Order. Is it permissible for my right hon. Friend whatever his distinction and standing in this House, to make such an impertinent charge—such a monstrous and impertinent charge—against another Member of this House? As you know well, Sir, I have never in any way provoked any strike. At least, I have done less in provoking strikes than this fellow here, whose action has provoked a strike.

There is no point of Order there. The right hon. Gentleman was quite entitled to make his reply. Mr. Silverman.

I am not prepared to argue any more points of Order with the hon. Gentleman.

If the hon. Gentleman chooses to rise I certainly shall deal with him. The hon. Gentleman must resume his seat at once.

I have just said that I shall not argue another point of Order with the hon. Gentleman. If he chooses to challenge my authority in this impertinent way I shall have to deal more severely with him.

With regard to the question of the Foreign Ministers' conference. Is it the intention to have a foreign affairs Debate before the conclusion of the Session, and, if so, will the promised White Paper be in time for that Debate?

I think the question of a Debate had better be pursued through the usual channels. I entirely agree with the point of my hon. Friend that, if such a Debate takes place, obviously it will be desirable to have the necessary White Paper available before it.