HC Deb 05 December 1939 vol 355 cc452-4
Mr. Attlee

(by Private Notice) asked the Prime Minister whether he has considered the request for a Secret Session?

The Prime Minister

I am prepared to agree to the right hon. Gentleman's request and give one day for a Secret Sitting of the House to consider those matters for which the Minister of Supply is specially responsible. The date of the Sitting will be for arrangement through the usual channels.

Mr. Thurtle

Before the Prime Minister decided to take this course, did he satisfy himself that there are no longer any Trebitsch Lincolns in this House?

Mr. Attlee

May I ask the Prime Minister whether he proposes that the Debate should take place on a particular Motion? He stated that we were to be restricted to the Ministry of Supply, but the points put forward embrace not only the Ministry of Supply, but general supplies of war materials and equipment.

The Prime Minister

The Debate will be on the Motion for the Adjournment.

Sir Archibald Sinclair

Will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear that we shall be able to discuss the general question of supply, and that we shall not be limited to those measures of supply which ordinarily come under the Ministry of Supply?

Mr. Denville

Would it not be better to advertise all that takes place in the newspapers?

The Prime Minister

In reply to the right hon. Gentleman, the Debate will be on matters generally connected with the question of supply.

Sir William Davison

May I ask whether the Ladies' Gallery will be open during the Secret Session as it is not directly a part of the House?

Mr. McGovern

No, the old ladies will be down here.

Commander Sir Archibald Southby

If during the course of the Debate it appears that a large number of Members desire to take part, will my right hon. Friend consider extending the Debate to another day?

The Prime Minister

I cannot give more than one day.

Rear-Admiral Beamish

On a point of Order. May I ask you, Sir, whether there is any Standing Order which controls Members of the House in regard to what takes place at the Secret Session? I ask that question because, in looking at Standing Order No. 89, it seems to me to be perfectly clear that, as long as a Member only gives information in the course of conversation, he is at liberty to say exactly what takes place at a Secret Session, and that it is only if he permits publication either in a public speech or in some form of printed publication that he can get into trouble with this House. I should like your Ruling as to whether I am at complete liberty to tell my constituents, which it is my intention to do unless there is a reason against it, as to what occurs at the Secret Session.

Mr. Speaker

There is no Standing Order dealing with a Secret Session, but the idea of a Secret Session is that it should be secret.

Lieut.-Colonel Acland-Troyte

Will the Prime Minister undertake to give away no secrets at the Secret Session?

Sir W. Davison

May I have a reply to my question whether the Ladies' Gallery will be unoccupied?

Mr. Speaker

It was in the last war.

Miss Rathbone

Is the Ladies' Gallery in any different position from any other gallery, and was not the hon. Gentleman's question, therefore, merely intended as an insult to women?

Mr. Speaker

I understand that the Ladies' Gallery is not part of the House, and in the last war ladies were not admitted to it during a Secret Session.

Sir W. Davison

Will the hon. Lady withdraw what she said about my remark being an insult to women?

Mr. Stephen

May I ask whether the proceedings of this Secret Session will be reported in the OFFICIAL REPORT as well as in the ordinary Press?

Miss Rathbone

In my question I made it clear that I merely wanted to know whether the Ladies' Gallery was in any different position from any other gallery, but I understand from Mr. Speaker's answer that there is a difference, and that exonerates the hon. Member from any intention of insulting women.