HC Deb 18 May 1922 vol 154 cc557-9

I beg to ask the Leader of the House what business he proposes to take next week; also whether we may expect the Prime Minister to be in his place next week, to make a statement upon the international situation, and, if so, upon what day it is likely to be made?


The business, so for as I can state it, for next week is:

Monday, Supplementary Estimate, Teachers' Superannuation, and minor Orders.

Tuesday, Navy Votes

Wednesday, Electricity (Supply) Bill, National Health Insurance Bill, and other Orders.

I propose to reserve Thursday for the present. I may be in a position to state en Monday what business will be taken that day.

As regards the second question put to me, I think it undesirable to allocate the business for that day, at present. I will consult with the Prime Minister as soon as I can after his return.

I thought it might be convenient to the House, if at the same time as I made this announcement, I gave such indication as I could of what was in the mind of the Government in regard to the Whitsuntide holidays. The House will, of course, understand that any intention I express or any hope I form to-day is dependent upon—


Good behaviour!


—is dependent upon the progress which the House finds itself able to make with the business in the meantime. I hesitated a little, at the ominous threatenings of hon. Members opposite a moment ago, as to whether I should make any announcement about holidays at present. However, if we can, we propose to move the Adjournment on Wednesday, 31st May, having an early sitting as is now customary—


Before the Derby.


—at eleven o'clock. We propose to meet again on Monday, 12th June. I know Monday is not a very convenient day, but I cannot postpone the meeting until Tuesday. I hope to arrange for some non-controversial Supply business to be taken on the Monday. In order to enable us to do this, we must ask the House to suspend the Eleven o'Clock Rule, probably on two days next week, to make progress with a number of small Measures. None of them, I think, are very controversial, and none of them ought to occupy much time, but we really must make progress with them before we can adjourn. As regards the actual date of the Adjournment, I have gathered that some hon. Members would like to be free on Wednesday, and would prefer not to have to meet here on the Adjournment Motion. We were proposing to take the Finance Bill on the Monday and Tuesday, and if the House were pleased to conclude the Debate on the Finance Bill in time for the Motion for the Adjournment to be taken on Tuesday, there would be no occasion for us to meet on Wednesday. That is a matter which rests with the House rather than with the Government. We must do the business which I propose for next week; we must get the Finance Bill, and we must sit on Wednesday if necessary to do these two things.


Will the Leader of the House reconsider his decision to present an Estimate for so large a sum as £600,000 on Monday, seeing that the Committee he is going to set up may report within a very few days and nothing like that sum may be required?


I can assure my hon. Friend that not one penny of the sum will be spent if it is not required. The fact that the Estimate is for £600,000 is neither an express nor an implied guarantee, pledge or undertaking by the Government or Parliament to anyone. As a matter of fact, the Estimate was laid yesterday, and I am not sure it is not already in the Votes. My hon. Friend the Member for Wood Green (Mr. G. Locker-Lampson) is sanguine as to the rapidity of the progress which will be made with this inquiry. I hope his expectation will be realised. We shall, perhaps, know better on Wednesday. The Committee, in the ordinary course, will be appointed to-night.


Do I understand my right hon. Friend to say that he will allocate Monday, 29th, and Tuesday, 30th, to the discussion on the Finance Bill?


Yes, Sir, if so long a time be required.


Can the right hon. Gentleman fix any date before which the Committee appointed to inquire into the Teachers' Superannuation Question shall report?


No, Sir, I cannot give instructions to a, Committee of the House to report on a certain date. As I said yesterday, it is the hope of the Government that the Committee may meet at once. I hope it will be appointed to-night, and that it can hold its first meeting on Monday. I very much hope, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wood Green suggests, that the Committee will find very few meetings necessary to enable it to make a report to the House, but I cannot speak with confidence.

Captain W. BENN

Before we adjourn for Whitsuntide, may we expect to have an announcement of the Cabinet decision in reference to Part II of the Safeguarding of Industries Act?