HC Deb 17 May 1939 vol 347 c1397
47. Mr. Cocks

asked the Prime Minister when he expects to introduce the Ministry of Supply Bill; and whether in the interim, the right hon. Member for Luton (Mr. Burgin) will be given any authority to fix priority for Army orders?

The Prime Minister

In reply to the first part of the question, I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given on the 11th instant to a similar question put by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leicester, East (Mr. Lyons). The answer to the last part of the question is in the negative. Pending legislation for the establishment of a Ministry of Supply, such questions of priority as may arise will continue to be dealt with through the machinery of the Committee of Imperial Defence.

Mr. Cocks

In view of the necessity of equipping the new Territorial divisions as well as the militiamen, is it not desirable that this priority should be given, seeing that the question is an urgent one?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir; I think it is desirable that priority should be given, but it must await the passing of the necessary legislation.

Mr. Crossley

Is the Prime Minister satisfied that the Government have sufficient priority with firms, as between Government and civil orders?

The Prime Minister

I would not like to answer that question, not having been personally concerned with these matters.

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

Has the Prime Minister considered the possibility of saving time in this very urgent matter by introducing the Bill in another place?

Mr. Lyons

Could my right hon. Friend say when it is expected that the Ministry of Supply shall begin to operate?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir; that depends on when we can get the legislation through. But my right hon. Friend who is at present Minister without Portfolio is carrying out a great deal of the work at present.