Skip to main content

Business Of The House

Volume 640: debated on Thursday 11 May 1961

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

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will state the business of the House for next week?

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

MONDAY, 15TH MAY—We shall begin the Committee Stage of the Finance Bill, which will be resumed on TUESDAY, 16TH MAY.

WEDNESDAY, 17TH MAY, and THURSDAY, 18TH MAY—A debate will take place on Foreign Affairs.

To meet the general wishes of the House, two days are being allocated for this debate.

The Government are giving one day and the Opposition propose that an allotted Supply Day shall be taken formally.

FRIDAY, 19TH MAY—Adjournment for the Whitsun Recess until TUESDAY, 30TH MAY.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is the intention of the Opposition to put down a Motion for the foreign affairs debate in order to concentrate the debate somewhat and make it rather tidier? It will, however, be in terms not intended to divide the House or the nation.

May I also ask him, about the length of the Whitsun Recess, whether I am not right in supposing that this is a week shorter than we normally have? Can it be that the Government have had a little trouble in getting their business through? Could the right hon. Gentleman throw some light on why the change has been made?

I think that it will be reasonable if we ask the right hon. Gentleman to discuss the Motion for the foreign affairs debate through the usual channels. I know that the right hon. Gentleman does not want to divide the House or the country. We are also keen to keep the scope of the debate as wide as possible.

Latterly, it has been the custom to have two weeks for the Whitsun Recess, but, formerly, it was usual to have the length of time that we are allotting on this occasion. The Government have made good progress with their business—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—in the interests of the country generally. We have a heavy and formidable programme, which we propose to pass through in good time, and we think that this is a reasonable time for the Recess.

Is my right hon. Friend aware that not everybody shares his view? Is he also aware that there are a lot of duties which Members of Parliament have to do, and that many of them require time at Whitsuntide? We do not want to see his legislation actually held up, but is he aware that some of it is not really very necessary, and that some of it, like the North Atlantic Shipping Bill, is highly undesirable? Will he think again about the matter?

No, Sir. I have announced the decision of the Government about the length of the Whitsun Recess. The legislation which we have to put through is very important, and I cannot, therefore, agree with my hon. Friend.

Have the Government abandoned altogether both the Weights and Measures Bill and the Road Traffic Bill, and, if so, is not this further evidence that the Leader of the House has entirely lost control of the Government's legislative programme?

No, Sir. I have no statement to make on those Measures at present, but the Government have complete control of the legislative programme, and we have, in fact, made exactly the progress which we foresaw. We have a heavy programme of legislation after the Whitsun Recess, and the Finance Bill to get through. I think that we are following the normal practice in making the Recess between the 19th and the 30th, which, I think, is ample time.

Is the Leader of the House aware that his explanation why the Whitsun Recess should be cut in half is not adequate? Can he explain the difference this year, compared with what I think has been the practice for five, six or even ten years, during which we have had a two weeks' Recess? Has there been some change in the Government's position? We are all willing to sit here an extra week, but we are entitled to make sure that it is for necessary business.

I am glad that the right hon. Gentleman added the latter part of his remarks, because on every occasion when I have moved the Motion for the Adjournment for any particular Recess, there have been violent observations from the opposite side of the House that, first, we should have no Recess at all, or that we should have a short week-end. On this occasion, we are having ten or eleven days, which will be sufficient for the Government to recuperate, even though the Opposition may be so fatigued that they want three or four weeks.

May I draw the right hon. Gentleman's attention to Item No. 12 of the Orders of the Day—Suicide Bill [Lords]? Can he tell us when this eagerly awaited event is to take place? If he cannot, will he say when his own Motion on House of Lords reform is likely to be brought before the House?

[ That it is expedient that a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament be appointed to consider, having regard among other things to the need to maintain an efficient Second Chamber,

  • (a) the composition of the House of Lords,
  • (b) whether any, and if so what, changes should be made in the rights of Peers and Peeresses in their own right in regard to eligibility to sit in either House of Parliament and to vote at Parliamentary elections; and whether any, and if so what, changes should be made in the law relating to the surrender of peerages, and
  • (c) whether it would be desirable to introduce the principle of remuneration for Members of the House of Lords, and if so subject to what conditions,
  • and to make recommendations.]

    It is obvious that this Motion will not be brought before the House before Whitsun, and it therefore follows that it will be taken after Whitsun. The Suicide Bill [Lords], which has passed through another place, is a desirable Measure.

    May I ask the Leader of the House whether, in view of the threat to the maintenance of law and order in Kenya by the resurgence of Mau Mau, he will consider an early debate in the House on Kenya?

    I did not gather from the right hon. Gentleman's statement any indication of the nature of the business to be taken in the week we return. It is likely that we shall then have that long awaited debate on shipping and shipbuilding?

    I cannot give a definite date for such a debate, but I will make an announcement about the business for that week before we rise.

    Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to say when the House will have the opportunity of further considering the Army and Air Force Bill?

    If the right hon. Gentleman is still in control of the Government's legislative programme, will he tell us, in rather more direct language than he usually employs, whether the Government are proceeding with the Weights and Measures Bill or not?