HC Deb 12 June 1940 vol 361 cc1269-70

Ordered, That this day, notwithstanding anything in Standing Order No. 14, Business other than Business of Supply may be taken before Eleven of the clock."—[Mr. Attlee.]

Vice-Admiral Taylor

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. I would like to ask whether you have any power and, if so, will exercise it, in view of the serious position of this country at the present time, to postpone the public Debate to-day on Home Defence matters which is the first Order of the Day? If the Debate is to be of any practical use then it must be evident that matters which would be of great use to the enemy will be discussed. Deficiencies in our home defence if they exist—and perhaps they do exist—must be brought to light, and matters of great detail which cannot be of any public interest, however much they are in the national interest, would be discussed? It cannot be in the national interest that all this information, which is of great use to the enemy, should be discussed publicly in the House to-day.

Mr. Speaker

I have no power to postpone the Debate.

Mr. Cocks

Is not the Debate to-day on Civil Defence and not Home Defence?

Sir Percy Hurd

May I ask the Deputy Leader of the House whether it is not desirable to ask two or three Members o: each party to consult privately with Ministers concerned so that they can be conversant with the feeling of the House?

Mr. Attlee

In answer to that question I think Members of this House fully realise their responsibilities in a matter like Civil Defence which, after all, has been discussed in this House for a long time. If hon. Members exercise the discretion they usually do exercise I think a perfectly useful Debate may be had.

Lieut.-Colonel Heneage

May I ask you. Mr. Speaker, whether you or anybody else has any power to stop a Member if he is inadvertently giving something away to the enemy? What powers have we on our part to get up on a point of Order and stop a Member?

Mr. Speaker

I have no power to act in that way.