HC Deb 18 May 1939 vol 347 cc1627-9
Mr. Attlee

Would the Prime Minister state what is to be the business for next week?

The Prime Minister

The business for next week will be:

Monday and Tuesday (until 7.30 p.m.).—Debate on Palestine on a Government Motion. The terms of the Motion will be: That this House approves of the policy of His Majesty's Government with regard to Palestine, as set out in Command Paper 6809. Tuesday (after 7.30 p.m.) and Wednesday.—Conclusion of the Committee stage of the Civil Defence Bill.

Thursday.—Second Reading of the Finance Bill.

Friday.—If all necessary business has been disposed of, we hope to take the Motion for the Whitsun Adjournment until Monday, 5th June. The Adjournment Motion will contain the usual provision empowering Mr. Speaker to call the House together at an earlier date, if the public interest should so require.

Durng the week it will be necessary for us to obtain the Report stage of the urgent Supplementary Estimates for the Reserve of Merchant Ships and Agricultural Machinery. It will also be necessary either on Thursday or first Order on Friday, to consider any Amendments which may be received from another place to the Military Training Bill and to the Reserve Forces Bill.

Mr. Atlee

On that statement I would ask two questions. First, with regard to the Committee stage of the Civil Defence Bill, there are many Amendments to be disposed of and I understand that a number of new Clauses are to be put down. An important Bill of that kind should not be taken at a very advanced hour. I suggest that the new Clauses might be left till we return after the Recess if it is possible to get the Committee stage finished on Wednesday. In any case the matter should not be unduly rushed. My second point is with regard to the Amendments from another place on the Military Training Bill. Can we be assured that we shall get them in time to consider them before they are brought to this House? I understand that the Bill is not to be considered in Committee in another place till Thursday. I suggest that these Amendments should not be taken late at night on Thursday, when it is impossible for us to cover what has been done in another place.

The Prime Minister

With regard to the first question, I do recognise that the Civil Defence Bill is a very important Measure and contains a great number of important Clauses. We will see how we get on. I certainly do not wish to curtail unduly the Debate upon it. At the same time, I know that the right hon. Gentleman recognises that it is an urgent matter to get on the Statute Book as soon as possible. With regard to the second question, we will do our best to get these Amendments in good time. I cannot say exactly when they will come, but the reason I said either Thursday or first Order on Friday is that I hope it will be possible for hon. Members to see them in good time.

Mr. Benn

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the important question of the contractual obligations of soldiers falls to be dealt with by Order in Council? Shall we have the draft Order in Council in any form before we part with the Bill?

The Prime Minister

I cannot say that without notice.

Mr. Benn

Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to ask those concerned, because if we part with the Bill and the House rises, the whole matter will be settled while the House is in Recess?

The Prime Minister

I will certainly look into the point.

Sir P. Harris

May I ask what time the Prime Minister expects to get the Third Reading of the Military Training Bill? Does he realise that there should be some discussion on Third Reading before it leaves for another place because of the new issues involved?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Baronet will realise that the whole matter is laid down under the Guillotine Motion.

Mr. Gallacher

May I ask the Prime Minister whether he is prepared to find time before the Recess to discuss the question of increased old age pensions?

Mr. Foot

Can the right hon. Gentleman say at what stage in the Session it is proposed to bring before the House the Bill for the amendment of the Official Secrets Act which has passed through the other place?

The Prime Minister

I cannot give an answer to that.

Mr. Maxton

Can the Prime Minister tell us when we are to get the Bills dealing with the Reserve of Merchant Shipping and the Reserve of Agricultural Machinery? We were discussing the Estimates very much in the dark, and we are to be asked to pass the Report stage, still without the Measures.

The Prime Minister

I am afraid I cannot give the exact date. Obviously, it cannot be before the Whitsun Recess.