HC Deb 25 July 1960 vol 627 cc1082-6
The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Martin Redmayne)

Mr. Speaker, I have a short Business statement to make on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House.

It is proposed to reassemble after the Summer Recess on Tuesday, 25th October, and the necessary Motion will be moved at the beginning of business tomorrow.

It is expected that Prorogation will take place on Thursday, 27th October, and that the new Session will be opened on Tuesday, 1st November.

The business to be taken on our return will be announced later this week.

These arrangements will enable the House to be under rather less pressure during the current week.

Tonight, after the European Trade debate, we shall take only the Post Office (Submarine Cable System) Order, followed by Opposition Prayers.

On Wednesday, we shall consider only those Lords Amendments to Bills announced last Thursday:

Caravan Sites and Control of Development.

Mental Health (Scotland).

Road Traffic and Roads Improvement.

Betting and Gaming.

Mr. Gaitskell

Can the Patronage Secretary say when the changes in the Government are to be announced?

Mr. Redmayne

I do not think that that arises on this business statement.

Mr. Gaitskell

Will the right hon. Gentleman convey to the Prime Minister our concern on this side of the House, which, I believe, is shared in some quarters on the other side, at the suggestion that the Foreign Secretary should be a Member of the House of Lords and not of the House of Commons?

Mr. Redmayne

I do not doubt that my right hon. Friend will take note of the right hon. Gentleman's remarks.

Mr. Wigg

It was I who raised, last week, two of the matters to which the Patronage Secretary has referred. One was the arrangements for business on Wednesday, and I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for the alteration. The second was why the Government were cagey about the day on which they put down the Motion for the Adjournment for the Summer Recess.

Is it not obvious that the House cannot possibly discuss that Motion until the House is told what the Government changes are to be? Clearly, if there is to be an announcement that the Foreign Secretary is to be in another place, this is a matter of such constitutional importance that I, for once, would not wish to depart until it had been adequately debated.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I cannot think that that properly arises on this business statement. I will, however, hear what the hon. Gentleman says.

Mr. Wigg

Needless to say, Mr. Speaker, I accept your Ruling. Last Thursday, however, I asked why the House was not told then of the day on which we would have an opportunity to debate the Motion for the Adjournment for the Summer Recess. Now, we are told without any notice that the Motion is being put down in such a way as to preclude any hon. Member on either side of the House from discussing the Government changes. We ought not to go away until we know what the Government changes will be.

Mr. Speaker

Clearly, the hon. Member cannot make on this business statement whatever speech he might make when it was proposed that the House should adjourn. That cannot be right.

Mr. Wigg

I am not seeking to make the speech which I should make on the Motion for the Adjournment for the Summer Recess, Sir; I am asking that either the Patronage Secretary or the Foreign Secretary will make a statement to the House—it would be quite simple—to agree to take the Motion for the Adjournment either on Wednesday or on Thursday, when the House will be in full possession of the facts.

Mr. Fletcher

Concerning this week's business, will the Patronage Secretary give an assurance that the impending Government changes will be announced in sufficient time to enable the House to consider their constitutional implications?

Mr. Redmayne

Obviously, I have no information about this. In answer, however, to the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), there was nothing cagey about this at all. The Motion is never announced in the House beforehand. It is simply put down by the Government on a suitable day. Indeed, the day on which it has been put down is the day that is most often used.

Mrs. Castle

Is the Patronage Secretary aware that many of us on this side consider it quite intolerable that we should be sent away for three months' holiday at this serious time? In fact, Parliament will not be able to exercise any control over the activities of the Government between now and November. We believe that this is just another sign of the contempt in which the Government hold the House of Commons. Will the right hon. Gentleman please reconsider the matter?

Mr. Speaker

I do not think that that arises on this business statement. It may be appropriate to some other occasion.

Mr. Swingler

Following the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg), may I put it in this way to the Patronage Secretary? Will he give an assurance that the Motion for the Adjournment of the House for the Summer Recess will be timed to come after the announcement of Government changes, so that Members will have an opportunity to discuss them? It is very important that this should be done. May we have that assurance?

Hon. Members


Mr. Gaitskell

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that if the appointment of the Foreign Secretary from the House of Lords turns out to be a fact, we shall certainly wish to debate this before the Summer Recess? Will the Government take note that we shall expect them to find time to do this and that further, if the announcement were to be delayed until after the Recess had begun, we should take an extremely dim view of the Government?

Mr. Redmayne

Again, I do not doubt that my right hon. Friend will note what the right hon. Gentleman has said.

Mr. Lipton

Concerning this week's business, will the Patronage Secretary please say on what day, whether Wednesday or Thursday, the Motion for the Adjournment of the House for the Summer Recess will be taken?

Mr. Redmayne

The hon. Member has not understood me. The Motion will be tabled tonight and taken tomorrow.

Mr. Marsh

In view of the unaccustomed loquaciousness of the Patronage Secretary, would it be in order to ask whether we still have a Home Secretary?

Mr. Speaker

Not on business.

Mr. Mellish

If the Motion is to be tabled tomorrow—[Hon. Members: "Tonight."] I am sorry, tonight—and, therefore, presumably, debated tomorrow, will that mean that the whole of the business tomorrow, when a debate on disarmament has been arranged, will be altered? If so, can the right hon. Gentleman say in what manner it is proposed that tomorrow's debate will proceed?

Mr. Redmayne

This procedure is perfectly normal. We take the Motion for the Summer Recess at 3.30 and we then go on with the business as announced. There is nothing at all unusual in this.