HC Deb 21 April 1943 vol 388 cc1692-6
Mr. Arthur Greenwood

May I ask the Leader of the House to state the Business after the Recess?

Mr. Eden

Perhaps I should first say a word about the Business to-day. I propose to move the two Motions which give the Government power to move the suspension of the Rule for a limited period of time. After the Report of the Budget Resolutions we shall take the Lords Amendments to the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill and the Motion relating to the War Damage (Highways Scheme) Order. We then propose to ask the House to consider three Amendments to the Nurses Bill which are expected to be received from another place during the course of our Sitting to-day. We think it desirable that the Bill should receive the Royal Assent before the Easter Adjournment, and I suggest that we should take the Amendments to-day rather than encroach on the time available to hon. Members on the next Sitting Day for raising matters in which they are interested on the Adjournment.

The Business when we come back will be as follows:

First Sitting Day—Supply (5th Allotted Day): Committee. A Debate will take place on Housing.

Second and Third Sitting Days—Committee stage of the Hydro-Electric Development (Scotland) Bill.

If there is time on the Third Sitting Day, we propose to take the Committee and remaining stages of the Housing (Agricultural Population) (Scotland) Bill and make further progress with any outstanding Measures, including the Second Reading of the Railway Freight Rebates Bill [Lords.]

Mr. Greenwood

May I ask the Leader of the House first, whether he will bear in mind the possibility of a war statement being necessary on the resumption of the House and that that may necessitate some alternation in the Business arrangements; second, while realising that the discussion on refugees is still continuing and that it is impossible for the Government to agree about any time, I assume that the Government have in mind the earliest possible date for a Debate; third, having regard to the widespread interest in the House on the question of a Select Committee on war pensions and the answer which the Prime Minister gave last week, will the right hon. Gentleman consider the early prospect of a Debate so that the arguments can be stated on the Floor of the House?

Mr. Eden

With regard to the first Question, if the situation is such that a war statement can usefully be made to the House, the Business will be rearranged accordingly. In reply to the second Question, I had hoped we could have the refugee Debate in the week in which we resume, but I cannot be certain that the Ministers concerned will be back, and it would be inconvenient to readjust Business at the last moment. I think it would be better to postpone it for a week, and I hope it will be taken in the following week. In reply to the third question, I will consider what the right hon. Gentleman has said.

Sir Richard Acland

Can the Government express even a provisional view as to whether opportunity can be found for the Motion standing in the names of myself and some of my hon. Friends?

[That this House, while recognising that the Prime Minister deservedly enjoys the personal affection of the overwhelming majority of his fellow citizens, who share his determination to prosecute the war to a successful conclusion, is of the opinion that the results of some recent by-elections, contested on registers whose obsolesence favours the Government candidates, reveal that no general confidence is extended to the policy of the Government as a whole, and that, for the sake both of early victory and of lasting peace, this policy should therefore be altered in such manner as will show a greater understanding of the fact that this war is a Part of a world-wide revolution out of which must emerge a new civilisation firmly based on the common ownership of all major productive resources.]

Mr. Eden

I regret that I cannot provide facilities.

Mr. Shinwell

I gathered from what the right hon. Gentleman said yesterday that he proposed to indicate to-day, in relation to Business after the Recess, what the Government's intentions were about the Old Age Pensions Bill. Can he now give a firm statement on that subject? When are we to receive this Bill?

Mr. Eden

I understand that it is practically ready. As soon as it is ready it will be published. I hope that it will be available to Members after Easter.

Mr. Shinwell

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that we have had promises of this character for many months now?

Mr. Eden

With respect, I do not think the hon. Member is quite justified in that statement. The undertaking we have given is that it would be made available and brought before the House this Session. That undertaking I confirmed a short time ago, and I hope that it will be available shortly.

Mr. Stokes

I would like to ask for your guidance, Mr. Speaker, in the matter of the two Motions standing upon the Order Paper for to-day in the name of the Prime Minister, I and some of my hon. Friends are in a difficulty. If the House decides to pass the first Motion and we succeed in persuading the House to reject the second Motion, we shall be left in a funny position. I want to ask you, Sir, whether it would be permissible to discuss both Motions together, in order to try to find some way round the difficulty, because unless we get satisfaction with regard to the second Motion we propose to divide the House.

Mr. Speaker

I should think probably it would be more convenient to discuss the Motions together.

Miss Rathbone

In view of the postponement, which I recognise to be unavoidable, of the Debate on refugees, may we take it that the unexpectedly long time taken over the Bermuda discussions will not mean that any decisions at which they arrive as to rescue measures which can be implemented or are within the control of the Government will be held up, as time is passing and the massacres are continuing?

Mr. Eden

Yes, I think the hon. Lady will be right in that conclusion. At the same time I do not think it is quite fair to say that they have been a very long time over the discussions. They began only on Monday, and to-day is Wednesday.

Mr. Messer

With regard to the Lords Amendments to the Nurses Bill, can the Leader of the House say how long the House will be in possession of those Amendments before we are asked to consider them? It is asking rather a lot to ask us to decide our action without having had much chance to study them.

Mr. Eden

I have not yet got the Amendments from another place. It may be that we shall not be able to consider them to-day, but I was anxious to try to avoid interfering with the time of Private Members on the next Sitting Day.

Sir I. Albery

On the question of Business, Mr. Speaker, may I ask whether you can inform us what subjects are likely to be selected for discussion on the Motion for Adjournment for the Easter Recess?

Mr. Speaker

At the moment I have not yet come to any decision, but I will let hon. Members know during the day.

Captain Cunningham-Reid

Will the Leader of the House consider the desirability of providing time in the near future in order that the House may discuss the very important question of our propaganda abroad?

Mr. Eden

I thought that might come later. I thought that the general feeling in the discussion on the B.B.C. part of it the other day was that it was pretty good.