HC Deb 15 October 1942 vol 383 cc1770-3
Mr. Arthur Greenwood

May I ask about the Business for the next series of Sitting Days?

The Lord Privy Seal (Sir Stafford Cripps)

The Business will be as follows:

First Sitting Day—Committee stage of a Supplementary Vote of Credit for War Expenditure and Committee stage of a Supplementary Estimate for Supplementary Pensions.

Second Sitting Day—Report stage of the Supplementary Vote of Credit and of the Supplementary Estimate. A Debate on Wages Policy will take place on the Report stage of the Vote of Credit.

Third Sitting Day—We shall ask the House to pass a special Consolidated Fund Bill for the Vote of Credit through all its stages. Afterwards there will be an opportunity for matters to be raised on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House.

I have a further statement to make in regard to Business arrangements, which, for security reasons, it is considered advisable to make in Secret Session. Accordingly, Mr. Speaker, after we have dealt with any Questions on the Business statement which I have just made, I propose to spy Strangers.

Mr. Greenwood

If the discussion on the Vote of Credit on the first Sitting Day is short, as one assumes it would be, if it were in Order my hon. Friends desire to raise the question of war pensions in relation to appeal tribunals and pensions for the loss of sons.

Sir S. Cripps

If Mr. Speaker feels that that is in Order, the Government will offer no opposition.

Mr. Stokes

Is the Leader of the House Yet able to give any indication when the long-promised Debate on wartime finance can take place?

Sir John Wardlaw-Milne

In connection with war finance generally, has it been agreed that it should be this particular Debate on the first Sitting Day? Has that been fixed after consultation through the usual channels?

Sir S. Cripps

It has been suggested through the usual channels that it will be convenient to have that Debate on that occasion, and the Government see no objection to it. With regard to the question of my hon. Friend opposite, if the Debate he desires is one as regards borrowing and not spending policy, that would not, of course, be in Order on the day set aside for the Vote of Credit and the Consolidated Fund Bill. No provision has so far been made for such a Debate.

Mr. Stokes

Will my right hon. and learned Friend bear in mind what amounted to a promise from him before the House adjourned for the Summer Recess, that we should have an opportunity of discussing the methods of financing the war on an early date?

Sir S. Cripps

It is a matter that can be discussed on the Adjournment.

Mr. Stokes

But the promise was for a full day's Debate.

Sir S. Cripps

I do not think so. If my hon. Friend reads my answer, I think he will find that he has misinterpreted it.

Mr. Harvey

Has any day been settled for a discussion of the Report of the Select Committee on the Disposal of Documents, which calls for a Resolution?

Sir S. Cripps

I understand that that is awaiting the Motion; we cannot have the Debate until we have the Motion.

Mr. Buchanan

Yesterday the Minister of Production made a statement regarding the grouping of industry. I see in this morning's Press a report that at a meeting—where and of what kind is not defined—a further statement was made by the Minister. In view of its far-reaching consequences and its importance in many respects, cannot that statement be made available to Members? I do not know whether it is fully reported in the Press or not, but the matter is very important, and we should have the full statement.

Sir S. Cripps

I will consult my right hon. Friend, but I think that it is fairly fully stated in "The Times" this morning.

Mr. Shinwell

Would it not have been desirable for the Minister of Production to have amplified his statement to the House instead of making an important announcement elsewhere? If important announcements are to be made, they ought to be made in the House so that hon. Members can have an opportunity of putting questions.

Sir S. Cripps

I think that the substance of the statement was the same. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I think it was the same. As the House does not like very long statements, efforts are made to cut them as short as possible when made by Ministers. From the report that I read this morning, it appears that it was an amplification of the statement in the House.

Sir H. Williams

In the event of a Debate taking place on borrowing policy, will the Leader of the House arrange with the Chancellor of the Exchequer to publish a White Paper showing the borrowing methods in other belligerent countries, particularly having regard to the fact that the rate of interest in Russia is 4 per cent. free of tax, whereas in this country it is 3 per cent. subject to tax?

Sir S. Cripps

Knowing my hon. Friend's extreme interest in Russia, I will bring the point to the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Mr. Evelyn Walkden

In view of the apparent arrangement that we shall have a Debate on appeal tribunals for war pensions, shall we also have the attendance of the Minister of Health to give us factual evidence as to the number of doctors available and a full statement, so that we may discuss in an intelligent manner facts and figures from his point of view?

Sir S. Cripps

If the subject is in Order for Debate on the first Sitting Day, I will certainly ask the Minister of Health whether he will be so good as to be in attendance.

Mr. Kirkwood

Is it possible for a White Paper to be issued giving us full information of what is behind the decision that the Minister of Production has put forward as it concerns engineers? It is stated today in the "Express" that engineers will be taken from one part of Britain and sent to another part and that they will have no redress, any more than a soldier has if he is sent from here to Cairo. That is a serious statement, and we must get it straightened out and in print, so that people can understand it, because the engineers are not going to stand for that.

Sir S. Cripps

Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will allow me to consult my right hon. Friend the Minister of Production as to whether it is possible to issue any such White Paper.

Mr. Buchanan

To-day at Question time an issue was raised by the hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. E. Walkden) affecting to some extent the Leader of the House personally, namely, increases of pay to dependants. The Minister of Pensions gave an answer in which he showed that the children's allowances were not now being paid to people who were in receipt of hardship grants or War Service Grants. It is in the minds of a large number of people that this extra shilling for the children is now being kept from them by another means. In view of the fact that the Leader of the House was himself largely responsible for the statement on the increases of pay and that they are not being made, will he consult the Minister of Pensions in order that he himself should not be placed in a rather awkward position on the matter?

Sir S. Cripps

I am much obliged to my hon. Friend for his care of me. I have been in consultation with my right hon. Friend on this matter, and it is under consideration.