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Business Of The House

Volume 530: debated on Thursday 15 July 1954

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

MONDAY, 19TH JULY—Supply [23rd Allotted Day]: Committee.

Debate on Industry and Employment in Scotland, in continuation of today's debate.

TUESDAY, 20TH JULY—Crichel Down debate on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Committee and remaining stages: Isle of Man (Customs) Bill.

Committee and remaining stages: Gas and Electricity (Borrowing Powers) Bill, if not already obtained.

Motion to approve: Agriculture Act (Part I) Extension of Period Order.

WEDNESDAY, 21ST JULY—Supply [24th Allotted Day]: Committee.

Debate on Old-Age Pensions.

Lords Amendments to: Housing (Repairs and Rents) (Scotland) Bill.

Motions to approve: Draft Local Government Superannuation (Benefits) Regulations, and similar Regulations for Scotland.

Draft Justices' Clerks and Assistants (Superannuation) Regulations.

Draft Probation Officers and Clerks (Superannuation) Regulations.

THURSDAY, 22ND JULY—Supply [25th Allotted Day]: Committee.

Debate on Kenya until 7 o'clock.

Afterwards, a debate will take place on House of Commons Accommodation.

At 9.30 p.m. the Committee stage of all outstanding Votes will be put from the Chair.

Motion to approve: Draft Raw Cotton Commission (Dissolution) Order.

FRIDAY, 23RD JULY—Further progress will be made with the Pests Bill [Lords].

Second Reading: Food and Drugs Amendment Bill [Lords].

Committee stage: Money Resolution.

On Wednesday's business, it is proposed to take Supply formally and to debate a Motion on old-age pensions which we propose to put on the Order Paper.

In regard to Thursday's business, the right hon. Gentleman suggested that after the Votes are put at 9.30 there will be a Motion to approve the Draft Raw Cotton Commission (Dissolution) Order. When that matter was discussed before, many questions were asked and hon. Members were always referred to the time when the draft Order would come forward, as there would then be ample opportunity for dealing with all the details. It will be quite impossible to do that on Thursday at such a late hour. I should imagine it would take at least four hours and, as the matter would not come on until about 10 o'clock, that would not do justice to a subject of great importance to Lancashire.

The right hon. Gentleman will realise that if this Order is not made there will be very considerable waste of public money, because the Commission would have to be reappointed. The draft Order is consequent upon legislation to which a great deal of time has been given during this Session. I am sorry the right hon. Gentleman thinks it would take as long as four hours, but perhaps we can see how we get along. After all, the House was kept late last night and there were few hon. Members opposite present.

The right hon. Gentleman said that this matter was debated before. In those debates hon. Members were always referred to the coming draft Order as a proper occasion when the matter could be dealt with. If it is now to be cut down to a short time, hon. Members will be deprived of answers to their questions.

Why does the right hon. Gentleman say that if this Order is not taken now the Commission will have to be re-appointed? Does not the Act simply say that the Commission can be dissolved when the Minister thinks fit? Could not this matter be left until next November, or Christmas, or something of that sort?

Can my right hon. Friend say whether there has been any discussion of the possibility of having a whole day devoted to colonial affairs before we rise for the Summer Recess? If not, will he take note of the feeling, on both sides of the House, that half a day devoted to Kenya and wedged in alongside a debate on accommodation in the House of Commons, is really quite inadequate?

Of course, the time at the disposal of the Opposition from now to the end of July is very much greater than that at the disposal of the Government and they have taken half a day for a debate on Kenya.

May I ask the Leader of the House whether it is not patently the case, as shown by questions by the Leader of the Opposition and the question by the hon. Member for Billericay (Mr. Braine), that the House is in a muddle about its business between now and the Summer Adjournment? Is not this in particular the responsibility of the right hon. Gentleman, who is a very bad Leader of the House, and of the Government? Is it not the case that they are treating both this House and another place very badly by bringing in irrelevant, unnecessary, and mischievous legislation?

All I can say is that I note the scrupulously polite terms the right hon. Gentleman used.

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when it is proposed to give an opportunity for a really adequate discussion of the Suez problem? In view of the widespread belief throughout the country that the Government will take the easy course of announcing an agreement whilst Parliament is in recess, can the right hon. Gentleman give an assurance that no agreement will be signed until the House has had an opportunity of discussing it and has satisfied itself that the security of other Middle East Powers is adequately safeguarded?

I could not give any definite promise on a subject of that kind, but the hon. Member knows that this topic took up quite a part of yesterday's debate.

Can the Leader of the House say whether two transport matters are to come up in the House before the adjournment for the Recess, namely, a debate on the railway reorganisation scheme; and secondly, on the Highway Code, which we are still awaiting?

The position about the railway scheme is that the Government undertook to publish a White Paper containing the proposals before seeking the approval which will ultimately be necessary on an affirmative Resolution. I think it would be desirable for the House to take some time to study these problems, and the Government will find time when we resume the Session later in the year.

The position there is rather the same. That also requires an affirmative Resolution, and I thought adequate time was necessary to study it, but if the Opposition like to facilitate the matter and get a debate arranged before we rise, no doubt that can be considered through the usual channels.

In regard to Monday's business, will my right hon. Friend note carefully the remarkably long time now being devoted to Scottish affairs, to which I have no objection; but will he bear that in mind when in the future we possibly make some humble request for a few moments for Welsh affairs?

Of course, it is the normal practice to give a certain time to Scotch affairs at this time of the year—[HON. MEMBERS: "Not Scotch, Scottish."]—Some say one, some the other—as it is also growing to be the custom to devote some time to Welsh affairs later in the year.

In view of the importance of the debate on Wednesday next—it will affect so many millions of people—will the Leader of the House consider the advisability of suspending the Standing Orders so that we can adequately debate the subject?

In view of the comparative triviality of the business for Friday of next week, would not the Leader of the House agree to substitute for it a discussion on the Comptroller and Auditor General's Report, which we have attempted to debate on two recent occasions in the House, and which has revealed grave scandals, showing that £147,000 went in profits to a private contractor, who charged the troops in the Suez Canal Zone "over double"? Does not the Leader of the House think that that is a matter for which Government time should be given for discussion?

That may or may not be the case, but I hope that the hon. and learned Member will not persist in thinking that the Food and Drugs Amendment Bill is a trivial matter, in view of what has been pressed on me from his side of the House every week.

In view of the discussion which took place last night and on Monday, would not the right hon. Gentleman find Government time in which to have a discussion on the urgent problems contained in the Appropriation Account? Does he not realise that this may have a very bad effect on recruiting and on the morale of the troops in the Suez area?

Various points have been raised as regards time. Will my right hon. Friend have time to bear all those points in mind, and if any uncertainty should exist in the future, would he discuss all those points through the usual channels?

Could the Leader of the House, as a matter of interest, give us any indication when we are going into Recess and when we are coming out of it?