HC Deb 01 August 1940 vol 363 cc1405-7
Mr. Lees-Smith

May I ask the Prime Minister whether he will state the business of the House for next week?

Mr. Attlee

The business will be as follows:

Tuesday: Second Reading of the Finance (No. 2) Bill.

Wednesday: Committee and remaining stages of the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill. A Debate will take place on Economic Policy.

Thursday: We shall begin the Committee stage of the Finance Bill.

During the week it is hoped to make further progress with the Agriculture (Miscellaneous War Provisions) (No. 2) Bill.

Mr. Cocks

Following last Tuesday's Debate, is the Lord Privy Seal aware that there is a general desire that we should have a public Debate on foreign policy so that we can speak to the world instead of talking among ourselves?

Mr. Granville

Is it the intention of the Government to give the House an opportunity of discussing the Ministry of Information before the House gets up for the Recess?

Earl Winterton

May I ask the Lord Privy Seal whether he will give consideration to the point I put last week on behalf of several hon. Friends, namely, that we should have a statement which could be debated on the important connected questions of the contributions of India and the Colonial Empire to defence, in view of the fact that no information has been given to the House, but a great deal to the Press, and that we are constitutionally responsible for that matter in the House?

Mr. Attlee

The Government are always desirous of giving the House an opportunity of discussing subjects which are desired by a number of Members. It is clear that we have now three suggestions, and there is another one which is being suggested by my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-under-Lyme (Mr. Wedgwood). The Government will consider this request and endeavour to find out what is the desire of the House and what is the order of priority for these questions, in order that an opportunity may be given for debate. Obviously, these matters must be weighed one against the other, and it is not always easy to find out what the House does want.

Mr. Lindsay

Will the Minister without Portfolio initiate the Debate on Wednesday?

Mr. Attlee

Yes, Sir; a statement will be made by the Minister without Portfolio, who will open the Debate.

Mr. Lambert

Can my right hon. Friend say when the Session is likely to close, and whether the Government propose to take action having regard to the general election which ordinarily would be held in October?

Mr. Attlee

I am afraid I cannot make any statement with regard to the sittings of the House, nor am I in a position to make any statement with regard to the Parliament Bill.

Sir Herbert Williams

Will the Finance Bill be circulated, so that Members can have an opportunity of reading it before the Debate on Tuesday?

Mr. Attlee

It has already been circulated.

Sir H. Williams

It has not been circulated. It is usually sent out with the Parliamentary Papers. They will not be sent out until to-morrow morning, so that many Members who will have gone to their constituencies will not receive them.

Mr. Attlee

I understand that the Bill is in the Vote Office.

Earl Winterton

On the question of business, may I ask whether my right hon. Friend in considering whether a subject for which a Debate is asked is an important one, will also consider whether it has been discussed before? Will he take into consideration that the question of the defence contributions of India and the Colonies is important and that if only one Member asks for a discussion on it, we ought to have it?

Mr. Attlee

These considerations naturally will be borne in mind. Obviously, one has to consider what are the opportunities the Members have already had of debating a particular question and whether a subject has not been debated recently. One must take into account also the general desires of the House.

Where there is a subject in which only one Member is interested, he might very well be able to satisfy himself on the Adjournment.

Mr. Cocks

With regard to a Debate on foreign affairs, I hope the Lord Privy Seal will not be prejudiced by the fact that the last time foreign affairs were debated it led to a reconstruction of the Government.

Resolved, That this House, at its rising this day, do adjourn till Tuesday next."—[Mr. Attlee.]