HC Deb 06 March 1941 vol 369 cc1025-8
Mr. Lees-Smith

May I ask the Lord Privy Seal to make a statement on forthcoming Business?

Mr. Attlee

The Business will be as follows:

On the first Sitting Day we propose to move Mr. Speaker out of the Chair on going into Committee of Supply on the Air Estimates, 1941, and consider Votes A and 1 and Air Supplementary Estimates in Committee.

On the second Sitting Day we shall take the Committee stage of the Determination of Needs Bill.

On the third Sitting Day the Report stage of the Civil Vote on Account will be taken formally. Afterwards the House will go into Secret Session, and a Debate will take place on Shipping on a Motion for the Adjournment of the House. We understand that this arrangement meets the general wishes of the House.

Mr. Shinwell

In regard to the Debate on shipping, which is to be in Secret Session, will the Lord Privy Seal intimate to Ministers other than the Minister of Shipping, for example, the Minister of Transport and representatives of the Ministry of Labour and the Admiralty, the desirability of being present, because the matter is very complicated?

Mr. Attlee

Certainly. All Ministers whose presence is desirable will be asked to attend.

Mr. Loftus

Will the House have an early opportunity of discussing the very important statement made by the President of the Board of Trade last Tuesday?

Mr. Attlee

The House will be aware that there is a great deal of financial business to be got through before Easter. We must also deal with the War Damage Bill and the Determination of Needs Bill, but there are opportunities for discussion of general topics on the Consolidated Fund Bill for which there will be two days. There are various suggestions for Debates in which hon. Members are interested. I understand that lady Members have asked for a Debate on women-power, and we are trying to find an opportunity for such a Debate. We are also trying to arrange for a Debate on the Ministry of Works and Buildings and the Ministry of Food, and I believe that there is a very wide desire for a Debate on the concentration of industries. An endeavour will be made to meet the wishes of the House.

Mr. Granville

Will the discussions now going on between employers and trade unions preclude this House from making constructive proposals when the Debate takes place?

Mr. Attlee

Of course not.

Sir Herbert Williams

May we have an assurance that His Majesty's Government will not commit themselves finally to this policy until this House has discussed it?

Mr. Attlee

It is impossible to stop Government business in the middle of a war so that everything can be brought up for discussion by this House, but an opportunity will be given to this House for discussing all major matters.

Sir H. Williams

Does my right hon. Friend recognise that to this policy there is the most strong opposition, of such a kind that His Majesty's Government may not obtain assent to the proposals?

Mr. Tinker

Does the right hon. Gentleman think that one day will be sufficient for the Committee stage of the Determination of Needs Bill, and if it is not enough, will he give further time for it?

Mr. Attlee

Perhaps we can see how it goes.

Mr. Maxton

With regard to this projected Debate on the concentration of industries, will the right hon. Gentleman consider whether, associated with that Debate, the presence of the Minister without Portfolio is desirable in addition to that of the President of the Board of Trade, because the statement by the President of the Board of Trade was not only with regard to industries during war-time, but what was going to be done with these industries after the war was over?

Mr. Attlee

I will certainly bring that matter to the notice of my right hon. Friend. I am always glad to receive from hon. Members suggestions as to whom they would like to be present at Debates of this nature.

Mr. Granville

In view of the revolutionary nature of the proposals and of the necessity for the House of Commons to make a contribution, is it not possible for the House of Commons to sit another day?

Sir A. Southby

With regard to the reply given to the hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams), will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear to the House that the Government do not desire to avoid criticism by this House of their actions in this or any other matter?

Mr. Attlee

Certainly, Sir. The Government welcome the fullest opportunity for criticism.

Sir I. Albery

In view of the fact that there will be many Members who wish to discuss the Consolidated Fund Bill, will my right hon. Friend give some consideration to the suggestion for another day for discussion of the concentration of industries?

Mr. Attlee

That is a matter which can be discussed best through the usual channels.