HC Deb 11 March 1943 vol 387 cc869-73
Mr. Arthur Greenwood

Will the Leader of the House state the Business for the next series of Sittings?

Mr. Eden

The Business will be as follows:

First Sitting Day—Report stage of the Civil Vote on Account. A Debate will take place on Colonial Administration in the West Indies.

Second Sitting Day—Report stage of the Navy, Army and Air Estimates; Report stage of outstanding Supplementary Estimates; and, if there is time, Second Reading of the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Bill [Lords.]

Third Sitting Day—Second Reading of the Consolidated Fund Bill. A Debate will take place on a Motion to approve the Government's proposals for the Reform of the Foreign Service.

Mr. Greenwood

Last week I asked a question about the Report of the Select Committee on Equal Compensation. I had not realised then that the minutes of evidence had not been published. I gather that they have not been published yet, but that they are to be published early. I assume that some Government statement will be made at a fairly early date after that?

Mr. Eden

The minutes, I understand, are now available. I cannot say exactly when a statement will be made.

Sir P. Harris

When is there likely to be the promised Debate on India? I understand that a White Paper is expected?

Mr. Eden

It is true that we are expecting some documents from India, which have not yet arrived. I think it will be for the convenience of the House that they shall be available before the Debate takes place.

Mr. Price

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider not taking Committee, Report and Third Reading stages of complicated Bills on the same day, as has happened in the past? While recognising the need of getting Business done quickly, will he in future consider not making a practice of this?

Mr. Eden

I realise that is inconvenient to the House, and I think I can say that we will do our utmost to make the procedure to which the hon. Member objects the exception rather than the rule.

Mr. G. Griffiths

When may we expect a statement regarding old age and widows' pensions? We are waiting very patiently, and so are the old age pensioners.

Mr. Eden

Quite shortly now, I think.

Commander King-Hall

When are we likely to have a Debate on the post-war currency question, and may we have an assurance that no decision will be reached before the House has an opportunity of debating the matter?

Mr. Eden

I do not think we are ready for a Debate yet. With regard to the latter part of the question, we propose to follow the usual practice. The Government take the decision and accept responsibility for it.

Mr. William Brown

Can the right hon. Gentleman give a rough indication when we are likely to be able to debate the Rushcliffe Report? The London County Council is likely to apply its recommendations as from 1st April, and it is desirable that we should have our discussion before then, if possible.

Mr. Eden

I should like to look into that.

Mr. Henderson Stewart

Can we have any indication when we shall consider the Scottish Hydro-Electric Development Bill in Committee, and will the right hon. Gentleman consider the request which I made on behalf of Members in many parts of the House for a Debate on forestry?

Mr. Eden

I am afraid that we are not quite ready for the Committee stage yet. As regards the second part of the question, I have not forgotten that, but I had it in mind that it might be more useful to have the Debate when the House was in possession of fuller information, which I hope will be coming along.

Professor A. V. Hill

In view of the widespread interest in the subject, will the Government be able to give time in the near future for a discussion of the Motion standing in my name and the names of 276 other hon. Members?

[That, in view of the massacres and starvation of Jews and others in enemy and enemy-occupied countries, this House desires to assure His Majesty's Government of its fullest support for immediate measures, on the largest and most generous scale compatible with the requirements of military operations and security, for providing help and temporary asylum to persons in danger of massacre who are able to leave enemy and enemy-occupied countries.]

Mr. Eden

The Government are not at all opposed in principle to having such a discussion, but I should like to consider what would be the most convenient moment so that the discussion could do the maximum amount of good.

Mr. de Rothschild

Can the question of the proposed new Constitution in Jamaica be discussed in the Debate on the West Indies?

Mr. Eden

Yes, Sir.

Mr. Gallacher

I want to ask the Leader of the House whether, in view of the talk and the suspicion about double-crossing in this House and in certain parts of the country——

Mr. Speaker

That sort of allegation has nothing to do with Business.

Mr. Pethick-Lawrence

Will the Leader of the House elucidate the answer he gave with regard to the Chancellor's promise that before any commitments are made on behalf of this country with regard to currency in future there will be an opportunity of Debate in this House? The Leader of the House said just now that any statement made by the Government would be implemented. What we want to be clear about is that the Government will not make decisions and then merely come to the House to ratify them. We want to be sure that in this matter of the currency future after the war the House will have an opportunity of expressing its views before any definite commitments are made by the Government which will in fact prevent the House taking a view of its own.

Mr. Eden

I do not think that there is really any difference between us. I have no doubt that in practice there will be an opportunity, and several opportunities, for discussion before the time for decision arrives. The only thing I was trying to do was to safeguard the recognised constitutional position and not to tie the hands of the Government,

Mr. Stokes

Is the right hon. Gentleman's understanding of the ordinary procedure of the Government to commit the country first and then come to this House?

Sir Ian Fraser

Will my right hon. Friend give an early day for discussion of the Motion which stands in my name and those of Members in all parts of the House, so that the whole position relating to disabled ex-Service men may be thoroughly gone into?

[That this House affirms its desire that war disability pensions and allowances should provide for ex-Service men and women and their families and the widows and orphans of the fallen, a measure of comfort and amenity to compensate them for their loss over and above the income needed for necessary subsistence, and asks His Majesty's Government to inquire by Select Committee, Departmental Committee or otherwise (a) whether independent appeal tribunals are necessary to ensure that justice is done to all claimants and (b) whether any change is required in the conditions or rates of pensions and allowances now in force having regard to any change that may have taken place in the cost of living or the general standards of living since the present Royal Warrants were issued.]

Mr. Eden

I have noted that, but I am afraid I cannot give an undertaking of a particular day at the moment.

Dr. Russell Thomas

Will the Debate on the West Indies be on the widest possible basis, so that we can discuss not only the internal administration of the West Indies but their future external relationship with the Empire as a whole?

Mr. Eden

That is a matter for the Chair, but I think that it will probably be a wide Debate.

Sir G. Gibson

When is it intended to debate the proposals for the amalgamation of the various Diplomatic and Consular Services?

Mr. Eden

It is to be taken on the third Sitting Day.

Mr. A. Bevan

Does the right hon. Gentleman realise the urgency of the question of disabled ex-service men? Every Member's postbag is full of appeals from them concerning their pensions. We have been promised on many occasions that the Government will seriously consider setting up appeal tribunals. Can we have an early date to discuss this matter, please?

Mr. Eden

I think the question of appeal tribunals is another issue. My hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser) was good enough to give me notice of the issue he raised, and I have undertaken to give it consideration. I cannot promise a day now.

Mr. Gallacher

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider giving an early day for a discussion on the war, with particular reference to military co-operation with the Soviet Union on the Continent, in view of the suspicions that are being peddled around about double-crossing?

Mr. Eden

I fortunately have no responsibility and no knowledge of suspicions about double-crossing. What I do know is that our Soviet Allies are fully informed of our military position and our military plans.