HC Deb 16 December 1941 vol 376 cc1820-1
Mr. Lees-Smith

May I ask the Lord Privy Seal whether he will make a statement upon Government Business for the remainder of this series of Sittings and why it is proposed to suspend the Rule to-day?

Mr. Attlee

We are suspending the Rule to-day in order to make certain of obtaining the Committee stage of the Supplementary Vote of Credit, the formal Ways and Means Resolution and the Second Reading of the Education (Scotland) Bill. We propose also to take the Cinematograph Films (Quota Amendment) Order, which is exempted Business. It is not expected that the House will be asked to sit late.

The Government realise that the changed situation and the Prime Minister's recent review have given rise to a demand for a Debate on the war before we separate for the Christmas Recess. We have certain essential Business to obtain, and have already arranged for two important Debates to take place. We must obtain the Committee stage of the Supplementary Vote of Credit to-day, and, in the view of the Government, the Debates on Dependants' Allowances and on the Home Guard should not be postponed. The Debate on the Home Guard was promised by the Prime Minister, and is necessary in order that the Secretary of State for War may proceed with his plans as early as possible. In effect, a large part of our time is already being devoted to Debates on various important subjects.

We are sitting on an additional day, and the Government believe that it would not be generally convenient to sit on another day or to meet for the sole purpose of passing the Motion for the Adjournment. We propose, therefore, that the Debate on the War Situation should take place on the 4th Sitting Day in Secret Session. The House, at its rising that day, would then adjourn for the Christmas Recess.

Mr. Lees-Smith

I understand that the new scheme of registration for the 16–18 age-group will be brought into operation before the House meets again. Will the right hon. Gentleman endeavour to arrange some discussion on that subject?

Mr. Attlee

We propose to move the suspension of the Rule on the third Sitting Day, and we might very well find time for it on that day.

Sir Percy Harris

Will the Prime Minister be making a statement upon the general progress of the war, and, if so, will it be in private or public?

Mr. Attlee

The Prime Minister has already made a statement, and I understand that hon. Members wish to put their views before the Government, arising out of that statement. Therefore it would be inappropriate to make another statement.

Sir A. Southby

Do the Government propose to suspend the Rule on the day of the Debate upon the War Situation, in view of the fact that large numbers of Members wish to take part in this very important Debate?

Mr. Attlee

We can do so if it is the wish of the House.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

What is the first Order of Business which it is proposed to take to-day—the Vote of Credit or the Bill?

Mr. Attlee

The first Order is the Vote of Credit, and then there is the Education (Scotland) Bill.

Mr. Shinwell

Do the Government propose to make an initial statement on the fourth Sitting Day upon the circumstances which led to the loss of the "Prince of Wales" and the "Repulse"?

Mr. Attlee

No,. Sir. It is proposed that a statement be made later. I understand that many hon. Members would like to put their views first.