HC Deb 06 February 1941 vol 368 cc1086-8
Mr. Lees-Smith

May I ask the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement about forthcoming Business?

The Prime Minister

On the first and second Sitting Days we shall take the War Damage Bill. We have already had five days in Committee on the War Damage Bill, and good progress has been made. With a continuation of the helpful attitude displayed by the Committee, I think it may be assumed that this stage will be completed on the second Sitting Day. Also, on the first Sitting Day, it will he necessary for us to ask the House to pass the Report stages of the Votes of Credit and, on the second Sitting Day, all stages of a Consolidated Fund Bill to give legal authority for the issue of the money.

On the third Sitting Day, Second Reading of the Determination of Needs Bill and Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

Mr. Shinwell

As regards Thursday's Business, in view of the fact that the Determination of Needs Bill involves two items of substantial importance, not necessarily related, cannot the right hon. Gentleman give more than one day for its consideration?

The Prime Minister

The House is aware that we have yet to finish the War Damage Bill and that there is a large amount of essential financial business to be done before Easter. There will be opportunities for debate upon the remaining stages of the Determination of Needs Bill, and as additional time for the Second Reading can be found only at the expense of other essential business, I do not think that I can readily agree to the proposal.

Mr. Bevan

Is not the Prime Minister aware that the House has been waiting for the Bill since long before Christmas and that millions of people are involved in the Bill, to whom it is as important as is the War Damage Bill to Members of this House? Ought there not to be greater opportunity of discussing the general principle of the Bill than just a few hours? In this part of the House there is the feeling that more time ought to be given to the discussion of the Second Reading.

The Prime Minister

The fact that there has been delay is nobody's fault. The inevitable delay in introducing it makes it all the more urgent that the Bill should get through. The Committee stage is that on which it will be possible for hon. Members to place their practical impress on the Bill to fit it for the emergencies for which it was designed.

Mr. Gallacher

Is not the Prime Minister aware that there is great feeling about the Bill among old age pensioners and their friends, and that, unless we can get discussion that allows expression to that feeling and prepares the way for the acceptance of Amendments, the Committee stage may become a formality in which the Committee merely votes against Amendments designed to correct some of the weaknesses of the Bill? I suggest that a vote be taken on this question of the Second Reading, as many Members would like to take part in that discussion.

Sir I. Albery

Will it be possible to have a general Debate on finance before the introduction of the next Budget?

The Prime Minister

Very considerable excursions may be made into that sphere during the discussion upon the Votes of Credit.

Mr. Loftus

Is it not agreed that this discussion will be mainly upon the Ministry of Information and that finance will therefore be largely excluded?

The Prime Minister

That is a matter of agreement and is not governed by the Rules of Order.