HC Deb 02 October 1941 vol 374 cc728-30
Mr. Lees-Smith

May I ask the Prime Minister whether he has any statement to make regarding the forthcoming Business of the House?

The Prime Minister (Mr. Churchill)

The Business will be as follows:

First Sitting Day.—Second Reading of the Prolongation of Parliament Bill and Second Reading of the Local Elections and Register of Electors (Temporary Provisions) Bill. This is the Bill which was presented yesterday and made available this morning.

Second Sitting Day.—The Adjournment will be moved, and a Debate will take place on what is called Man-Power —a very extensive subject. The Government will have maturely to consider the points on which the House desires information before committing itself to a definite and formal reply, and it may well be that such reply could only be made in Private Session. The distribution of man-power as between all the various competing interests constitutes a direct and central part of the war effort, to which we do not by any means want to invite the enemy to be a party. To give full and exact details of the distribution of man-power would probably enable him to divine a great deal of our situation.

Third Sitting Day.—Second Reading of the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill and the Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

Sir P. Harris

If circumstances justify it, and in case it should be found necessary to spy Strangers at the very beginning of this Debate, are we to understand that there will be opportunity for further discussion?

The Prime Minister

I think the best thing would be for the House to discuss the matter and for the Minister to have the advantage of knowing how opinion goes, and then to consider whether it is better to make his reply in public or private.

Mr. A. Bevan

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the fact that the House may not have the fullest opportunity of expressing its views in a one day's Debate?

The Prime Minister

There is no reason why, if the House desires to do so, it should not sit a little later.

Mr. Shinwell

Would it not be more desirable and render the Debate more effective from the standpoint of the Government and the House, to consult through the usual channels and ascertain what are likely to be the demands made on the Government, and then determine whether the Debate should be conducted in public or in secret?

The Prime Minister

Of course, discussions always take place through the usual channels, but I think it would be better that the Debate should take place in the ordinary way, and we will see whether there is any need to go into Private Session.

Mr. Erskine Hill

Would my right hon. Friend give consideration to the representations which have been made through the normal channels for a day for a Debate on Supply?

The Prime Minister

What does my hon. and learned Friend mean by "Supply"?

Mr. Erskine Hill

To discuss questions of Supply—the Ministry of Supply.

The Prime Minister

The word "Supply" has a technical connotation, and I was not quite sure what my hon. and learned Friend meant. I can only say that representations should continue to be made through the normal channels, and the fullest attention will be paid to them.