§ Mr. Arthur Greenwood
May I ask the Leader of the House to state the Business for to-day and the next Sitting Days?
§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Eden)
As regards the Business for to-day, the Debate on the Address will be continued, and I understand that you, Mr. Speaker, intend to call the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg) on Colonial Development. Afterwards, we shall ask the House to consider a Motion to approve the Potatoes (1942 Crop) (Charges) Order.
The Business for the next Sitting Days will be as follows:
First and Second Sitting Days—Consideration of the Amendment to the Address relating to Post-War Reconstruction standing on the Paper in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Edinburgh (Mr. Pethick-Lawrence).
Third Sitting Day—The Debate on the Address will be brought to a conclusion after consideration of the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Shettleston (Mr. McGovern).
During this series of Sitting Days we shall ask the House to approve the draft Order proposed to be made under the Government of India Act and agree to the Second Reading of the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill which, I understand, is a formality, and the Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.
§ Mr. A. Bevan
May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will give an early opportunity for the discussion of the Motion which stands in the names of several hon. Members relating to the position of Admiral Darlan?
§ [That this House is of the opinion that our relations with Admiral Darlan and his kind are inconsistent with the ideals for which we entered and are fighting this war: furthermore, that these relations, if persisted in, will undermine the faith in 883 us among our friends in the oppressed and invaded nations and impair the military, social and political prospects of the final and complete triumph of the cause of the United Nations.]
§ Mr. Bevan
As there is very considerable disturbance of opinion in the country about this matter, and as a large number of hon. Members in this House are disturbed about it—or if they are not, they ought to be—is it not perfectly proper that the House of Commons should have an opportunity to discuss it before we are irretrievably committed in North Africa to the establishment of Admiral Darlan and the further extension of the same policy in other fields of foreign policy?
Mr. Graham White
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that while there is the gravest feeling of apprehension on this matter throughout the country, there is equally a recognition that it is a matter of considerable difficulty which requires to be handled with the greatest care?
§ Mr. Stokes
In view of what the Leader of the House has just said, may I put this point to him? On Tuesday I made certain remarks and addressed certain questions to him, and when I sat down the House pressed my right hon. Friend for an answer. He undertook to give an answer yesterday, but he did not answer the questions which were put to him. I now ask him, in view of the statement which he has made, when he proposes to fulfil his obligation to the House and give an answer to the questions which were addressed to him on Tuesday?
§ Mr. Stokes
On a point of Order. I put questions to the Leader of the House on Tuesday, and he undertook to answer them. I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, what is a private Member to do when the House is given an undertaking of that kind and the Leader of the House then refuses to fulfil the obligations?
§ Mr. Speaker
The only point at issue is that the hon. Member is not satisfied with the answer which he has been given.
§ Mr. Bevan
I want to ask your guidance, Sir. In the next series of Sittings, I understand, there will be Debates on Amendments to the Address, and those Debates for the first two days will be on reconstruction. This matter of establishing quislings abroad will have a very important bearing upon reconstruction, both at home and abroad. Will it, therefore, be proper for us to raise the implications of a new Government policy on our plans for reconstruction?
§ Mr. Gallacher
Can the Leader of the House inform us whether it is the case that a protocol has been prepared, and will be signed within a very short time, making Darlan the High Commissioner of North Africa? Is it not desirable that there should be a discussion in this House before such a step is taken?
§ Mr. Buchanan
May I submit that the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) has asked an important question, as to whether Admiral Darlan is being appointed to a certain position, which will give him great power, permanently; and is it not open to him to ask that question and for a Debate to take place upon it, because of its implications?
§ Mr. Speaker
It is not my business to say whether it is in the public interest or not that a question should be answered. If the right hon. Gentleman says that it 885 is not in the public interest, I think the House should accept his statement.
§ Mr. Buchanan
Surely it is in Order for the hon. Member to put a question, and to receive an answer? It is suggested that this Admiral is being appointed to a high post for some time to come, and given great power. If ever there was a need for an answer to a question, it is now, because if this question goes unanswered to-day, the implications in the country will become worse. If I might give the right hon. Gentleman some advice, after a number of years' membership of this House, I would say that he should answer the question.
§ Mr. Eden
I do not think my hon. Friends need put quite so much fervour into the matter. My position is quite plain, and I can state it to the House. Yesterday I gave a considered reply, giving all the information I could in relation to this subject, which is not entirely, or even mainly, a British subject. The United States are the principal party. I am quite prepared, if hon. Members want to put these further detailed questions, to give them an answer; but I do not think it is unreasonable that I should ask to see the Questions on the Paper, so that I may give a considered answer. That is my whole position, and I have nothing more to say.
§ Sir William Davison
Has it not been the practice for years that when a Question is put to a Minister he is entitled to say that it is not in the public interest-that he should answer it, and for the House to accept that?
§ Mr. Granville
In view of the serious reports in the Press that the Fighting French are no longer broadcasting, to Europe or elsewhere, will the right hon. Gentleman, who is responsible for this breach in our political warfare, say whether we shall be given an opportunity to discuss the matter in this House?
§ Mr. Eden
That is also a question on which I have had no notice. Also it does not arise on Business. But I can say that that broadcasting has not stopped on our volition. It is temporarily stopped, and I have every hope—and I am doing all I can to bring it about—that it will be resumed at the earliest possible moment.
§ Sir H. Williams
Is it not the case that the civil government of North Africa does 886 not come under our control, or the control of any nation allied to us?
§ Mr. Eden
I have never said anything of the kind. I think all Members must understand that we are dealing with an extremely delicate situation at the moment, and that our troops and American troops are engaged in a very critical phase of the campaign. I think I am entitled to ask Members, if they want to ask more questions on the matter, to be good enough to give me notice.