HC Deb 21 October 1943 vol 392 cc1523-6
Mr. Arthur Greenwood

May I ask the Prime Minister to state the Business for the next series of Sittings?

The Prime Minister

The Business for the next series of Sittings will be as follows:

First Sitting Day—Second Reading of the Parliament (Elections and Meeting) Bill and of the Prolongation of Parliament Bill.

Second Sitting Day—Committee and remaining stages of the Rent of Furnished Houses Control (Scotland) Bill and of the Workmen's Compensation (Temporary Increases) Bill.

Third Sitting Day—Committee and remaining stages of the Regency Bill, which has come up from another place. I propose then to make a Motion to set up a Select Committee to consider plans for the rebuilding of the House of Commons. If there is time, the Second Reading of the Water Undertakings Bill [Lords] and the Motion to approve the Clearing Office (Italy) Amendment Order, 1943, will be taken.

Mr. Greenwood

May I repeat a question I put last week? Will it be possible for the right hon. Gentleman to make arrangements for an early Debate on the food situation in Bengal and elsewhere and some of the wider implications involved?

The Prime Minister

It will be in the series after the next series of Sittings that that will take place.

Earl Winterton

In view of the great interest taken in the question of the rebuilding of the House of Commons, will the right hon. Gentleman give sympathetic consideration to giving us as long a time as possible in the arrangements for discussion?

The Prime Minister

I think it is a very interesting topic and very directly related to the power and well-being of Parliament, which has carried us through this war as a rock of support.

Mr. Mander

May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman proposes to bring before the House for consideration the recent Report of the Committee of Privileges concerning the National Marketing Company?

The Prime Minister

The Privileges Committee, in their Report presented on 4th August, do not recommend the House to take any action in the matter of the complaints referred to, and therefore there is no reason for bringing the Report before the House. I am not aware of any general desire for a Debate, and I regret that in the present state of Business I am not able to hold out any hope of finding time for it.

Mr. William Brown

May I ask whether time will be provided at a reasonably early date for discussion of the Motion signed by 85 hon. Members and myself dealing with the treatment by the Government of pensioners from different branches of the State service, ex-officers, ex-civil servants, teachers and so on?

[That this House views with concern the position of retired State servants (civil servants, teachers, local government officers, police and prison officers, officers of the armed forces, colonial officers, members of the Royal Irish Constabulary, etc.) who have received no supplement to their pensions in spite of the heavy increase in the cost of living since the beginning of the war, and, in view of its obligations to the retired servants of the State, requests His Majesty's Government to revise its attitude on this problem.]

The Prime Minister

I do not think there will be time this Session, but, of course, the new Session may easily provide opportunity without any special allocation of time by the Government.

Mr. Brown

Can the Prime Minister exercise his active benevolence in favour of those of us who do want to get a decision?

The Prime Minister

My benevolence has not, up to the present, been actively excited.

Mr. Brown

Does the Prime Minister recognise that his last observation is a reflection on his conscience?

Mr. Maxton

With reference to the Motion about reconstruction of the House, will this Motion be put on the Paper before the day on which it is to be debated, and will it be wide enough in scope to give the House an opportunity of discussing other ways of housing Parliament than reconstruction of the old Chamber?

The Prime Minister

I will read the Motion: That a Select Committee be appointed to consider and report upon plans for the rebuilding of the House of Commons and upon such minor alterations as may be considered desirable, while preserving all its essential features.

Mr. Stokes

May I ask whether, in view of the announcement that the final draft of the United Nations Reconstruction Bank has been received, early opportunity will be given for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to tell us what is in that proposal and for discussion in this House?

The Prime Minister

I am advised on that matter to-day. Perhaps another opportunity will be given me to answer that question.

Mr. Neil McLean

May I ask whether the Motion for reconstruction of the old House will enable us to draw attention to all the criticisms that it was a place in which there were very few facilities for Members doing their work?

The Prime Minister

All that will come up, if the Motion is approved by the House, before the Select Committee which will advise us, and before any further decision is taken there will be a Debate on the Report of the Select Committee.