HC Deb 22 July 1943 vol 391 cc1084-8
Mr. Arthur Greenwood

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he can state the Business for our next series of Sittings?

The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Eden)

Yes, Sir. The Business for our next series of Sittings will be as follows:

First Sitting Day—Supply (20th Allotted Day), Report. The Estimate for the Department of Overseas Trade will be considered; At the hour appointed the Report stage of all outstanding Supply Votes will be put from the Chair; Consideration of Lords Amendments to the Hydro-Electric Development (Scotland) Bill and of the Nurses (Scotland) Bill.

Second Sitting Day—Second Reading of the Consolidated Fund (Appropriation) Bill. A Debate will take place on Agriculture; Committee and remaining stages of the Coal Bill [Lords] and of the Law Reform (Frustrated Contracts) Bill [Lords].

Third and Fourth Sitting Days—a Debate on Educational Reconstruction will take place on the Motion standing on the Paper in the name of the President of the Board of Education.

[That this House welcomes the intention of the Government to proceed with educational reform, as evidenced in the White Paper on Educational Reconstruction.]

Mr. Tinker

Has any consideration been given to the question of giving a report to Parliament on the war situation before the Summer Recess?

Mr. Eden

The situation, of course, changes from day to day. I rather doubt whether, under present conditions, a war statement is likely before the House rises, but I would not like to pledge myself.

Mr. A. Bevan

Did not the right hon. Gentleman give what amounted to a pledge, when the Prime Minister made his last statement on the war situation, that there would be an early Debate on the war situation? Is it not quite intolerable that Parliament should rise for the Recess without discussing the very many important decisions which the Government have already made in many theatres of war? May I respectfully suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that before the Recess he must provide the House with an opportunity of discussing the war? The House of Commons has not contracted out of the war yet.

Mr. Eden

I am not aware of any pledge, nor am I aware of any general demand for a Debate on the war at the present time. I think the general feeling of the House is to wish to give its maximum assistance to the military operations which are developing at the moment, not altogether unsatisfactorily. But, as I say, naturally the position will be reviewed between now and the rising of the House, and the desires of the House will be borne in mind.

Mr. Stephen

Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether the Regulations in connection with old age pensions will be introduced before the House rises?

Mr. Eden

My hope—which must not be considered as a definite pledge—is that they will be introduced before the House rises.

Captain Crowder

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether the Secretary to the Department of Overseas Trade will open the Debate on the first Sitting Day of the next series?

Mr. Eden

I will consider that. He will, of course, take part in the Debate.

Mr. Maxton

There are two points which I would like to put to the right hon. Gentleman. Nowadays, it is the practice on Supply Days to debate all sorts of subjects which are not connected with the particular Ministry whose Vote is before the Committee of Supply. Can he now give us any indication of what we are going to talk about when the Vote for the Department of Overseas Trade is taken? My second point is this: The Minister of Labour has made a statement in the country about compelling boys of 16 to go into the mines. That seems to be a new departure in the way of interference with freedom, and I think it is desirable that the matter should be discussed in this House. I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether an opportunity for doing so will be provided.

Mr. Eden

With regard to the first part of the supplementary question, it is not for me to regulate the Rules of Order governing these discussions on Supply Days, but I understand that on the occasion to which the hon. Member refers there is a desire to discuss the question of export trade. As regards the second part of the hon. Member's question, I have not had an opportunity of consulting my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, and I should like to have an opportunity of doing so before I give a considered answer, but I should imagine that, in any circumstances, my right hon. Friend would wish, in due course, to make a statement to this House.

Mr. Thorne

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether in the event of Sicily being captured, a statement will not be made in this House before the Adjournment?

Mr. Eden

There is a very good cookery book which has a very good recipe—"First catch your hare."

Mr. Stokes

May I go back to the point raised by the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. A. Bevan) and ask the Leader of the House whether he will study the remarks which he himself made on 8th June when the Prime Minister made his last statement? I understood from what he said then that there was, at any rate, an implied promise that an opportunity would be given at an early date for a further Debate on the war. Further, especially in view of the point which the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) has raised, is it not the case that there are other subjects which hon. Members wish to raise, and should we not have an opportunity of doing so before the House rises for the Recess?

Mr. Eden

I do not remember having given, and I do not think I could have given, any such promise. My only desire is that the House should have a discussion if the House feels that the moment is propitious and that a discussion would be useful to the progress of the war, which is our common concern. I think the general feeling at the present moment is that as far as the military aspect is concerned, perhaps a discussion would not be helpful.

Major Petherick

In regard to the revolutionary proposal to discuss the Estimates of the Department of Overseas Trade, will it be possible during that Debate to have any general review of the question of the exchange rate with Sicily which was mentioned at Question Time today, in view of the fact that the problem will be one of exports to Sicily?

Mr. Eden

It is not for me to give a Ruling on how far that subject would be in Order on that occasion.

Mr. Bellenger

Is it intended to-day to take the Report and Third Reading stages of the Pensions Appeal Tribunals Bill?

Mr. Eden

I very much hope that it may be possible to do so, in order that the Bill may go to another place and that the tribunals may be set up as soon as possible.

Mr. Driberg

Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Debate on agriculture is to be of a general nature, or is to be confined to the Minister's recent statement?

Mr. Eden

The Debate will be on the Consolidated Fund Bill, so that it can range widely.

Mr. Bevan

Should we be correct in assuming that the statement made by the Minister of Labour on the recruitment of young men to the mining industry was made without first consulting the members of the War Cabinet, or was it a statement of Government policy?

Mr. Eden

I do not think, Mr. Speaker, that is a matter of Business, but, as I have said, I understand that discussions are proceeding, and I have no doubt that the Minister of Labour in due course, if he has a statement to make, will make it to the House.

Mr. Bevan

Should not a statement of such gravity have been made in the House and not outside?

Mr. Eden

I have already dealt with that. I have no doubt that when a statement is to be made, my right hon. Friend will make it to the House.

Mr. Bevan

But the statement has been made.

Professor Savory

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is aware that for over two years we have had no opportunity of discussing the Estimates for the Dominions Office; and whether we shall be given an opportunity of discussing the relations between the Dominions Office and Eire?

Mr. Eden

I am afraid not, under our programme as at present arranged. I have just announced the Business for the 20th Allotted Day.