HC Deb 08 January 1942 vol 377 cc42-3
Mr. Pethick-Lawrence

May I ask the Lord Privy Seal whether he has any statement to make with regard to to-day's Business?

Mr. Attlee

The House will recollect that we are meeting at the request of a number of hon. Members who desired that we should meet earlier than the Government originally proposed. The Government are always ready to fall in with the wishes of the House. At this Sitting, it is proposed that the Adjournment should be moved and that I should make a statement on the general war situation, and that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs should speak later in the Debate. Before moving the Adjournment, I propose to ask the House to agree to go into Secret Session for a short time in order that I may make a statement relating to future arrangements which the Government think it is undesirable to make in public. We are prepared to move that the Sitting should be extended to-day if such a course meets with the approval of the House.

Mr. Bellenger

Why is it proposed to go into Secret Session to discuss the date of the resumption of the Sittings of the House? Surely, it cannot be a security matter, because on the last occasion when we discussed the Adjournment of the House, it was done in public, and as the public has a great deal of interest in the Sittings of the House, surely this matter should be discussed in public.

Mr. Attlee

I propose to give the reasons in Secret Session. As the matter is one which the Government think should be kept secret, it is impossible to give the reasons before we go into Secret Session.

Mr. Stokes

Is my right hon. Friend aware that there is a growing feeling in the country that the Government cannot carry on without the Prime Minister? It is not so in the House of Commons, and, therefore, while the right hon. Gentleman may not be able to make any remarks now about future Sittings of the House, may I publicly express the hope that there will be no further Adjournment?

Mr. Granville

At what hour will the Debate end?

Mr. Attlee

We shall move to extend the time of the Sitting, and, therefore, the time of rising will be in the hands of the House.