HC Deb 16 December 1942 vol 385 cc1941-3
Mr. Eden

I beg to move, That this House at its rising upon the next Sitting Day, do adjourn till Tuesday, 19th January. I informed the House on 3rd December last of the proposed dates for the Christmas Recess. I should remind Members that power exists for the House to be recalled by Mr. Speaker at short notice, on representations being made by the Government, and if the public interest should require an earlier meeting.

Mr. Shinwell

Could we on that Motion, Sir, discuss the statement made by the Prime Minister yesterday?

Mr. Speaker

Certainly not.

Sir H. Williams

We could certainly advance reasons as to why the House should not adjourn for so long, and I think we could argue, on the ground that certain things should be discussed, that we ought not to adjourn on the next Sitting Day and that we should resume earlier than the date which is proposed. Surely, Sir, we could then say what things ought to be discussed, and why?

Mr. Buchanan

Would it be in Order to suggest that we should adjourn a day later, and that the extra day might be used for discussing the important statement made by the Prime Minister yesterday? While not debating the question of whether certain words are proper, we might consider the necessity of debating the issue. One does not want, in these days, to add to your difficulties, Mr. Speaker, but I put it to you that it would be as well if a Member might move that we do not adjourn until a day later, in order that a certain important statement made by the Prime Minister could be discussed.

Sir William Davison

Should the House not remember what the Prime Minister did say? He did not directly attack Members of this House; his statement referred to "certain persons."

Mr. Speaker

The suggestion made by the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) is quite in Order, but if a Debate is to take place, it would not be in Order for Members to go in great length into what the Prime Minister said.

Mr. Buchanan

But I take it that Members could refer to the importance of the Prime Minister's statement and its consequences, without arguing it in detail?

Earl Winterton

I realise that there is important Business, and I do not want to detain the House. [Interruption.] I should certainly detain it if I wanted to. The hon. Member can have very little knowledge of the old controversial days when he objects to our criticising in such a mild manner. I want to put a question to the Leader of the House, which I hope he will consider favourably. My own knowledge of Procedure enables me to realise that it would be impossible on this Motion to debate the statement of the Prime Minister, but I am sure that the Leader of the House, in the position of great responsibility that he occupies, realises that it would be undesirable to leave the matter where it is. Therefore, before we agree to adjourn for this period—which I agree in itself is reasonable enough—I hope we shall have some statement by the Leader of the House that he is prepared to represent to the Prime Minister the desirability of the earliest possible Debate, either in open or in Secret Session—I hope in open Session—on the controversy that has arisen. Without wishing to wound anybody's feelings, I must say that I am left, and I think the country is left, in complete doubt as to who is making an accurate statement, the Prime Minister or those who are criticising him. There is a complete conflict of evidence. The Prime Minister, after all, is only primus inter pares. We must lay equal weight on all statements that are made in this case.

Mr. Eden

If the Prime Minister is only primus inter pares, my right hon. Friend will realise that I am still less. He will also, during his long Parliamentary experience, have often seen and heard very much harder knocks given than this. I confess to being a little surprised at this very great sensitiveness. If hon. Members wish to have an opportunity to debate the matter, the normal opportunities are given. I could not, at this sudden notice, rearrange the Business for the purpose.

Miss Rathbone

If the idea of prolonging the Sittings for a further day to discuss the statement of the Prime Minister is adopted, would it be in Order to move that we should also discuss the wholesale massacre of the Jews? That subject has not had even an hour's attention.

Mr. Speaker

That only shows how one thing leads to another.

Question, "That this House, at its rising upon the next Sitting Day, do adjourn till Tuesday, 19th January" put, and agreed to.