HC Deb 23 September 1943 vol 392 cc400-7
Mr. Arthur Greenwood

May I ask the Leader of the House to make a statement on the future Business of the House?

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

The Business for the first week after the Recess will be as follows:

First Sitting Day.—The Adjournment will be moved, and a Debate will take place on the coalmining situation.

Second Sitting Day.—Second Reading of the Wage-earners Income Tax Bill.

Third Sitting Day.—Second Reading of the Water Undertakings Bill [Lords].

Mr. Greenwood

If during the course of the first Sitting Day in this next series of Sittings, it appears that there is need for an extension of the discussion, will the right hon. Gentleman bear that in mind as a possibility? I am not asking him to give any definite undertaking now, but if it should appear that the House desires a longer time for this Debate, could not arrangements be made accordingly?

Mr. Eden

I had better tell the right hon. Member frankly what my difficulty is. It is a question of the legislation which we have to get through. If there were a wide demand for a second day I, frankly, would prefer that we should come back a day earlier, rather than get the legislative programme cluttered up. Perhaps it is a matter which can be considered through the usual channels.

Mr. Shinwell

Does the right hon. Gentleman's statement mean that the Government have completely closed their minds to the proposal for a resumption next week, and for having a Debate on the mining situation, as that is a most important and really urgent matter?

Mr. Eden

Of course, matters concerning the direction of labour are to be discussed to-day and on the next Sitting Day. As regards the general mining situation, I did make certain suggestions through the usual channels yesterday and tried to meet the desires of those who wished to have a Debate before the House rose. Unfortunately, those proposals did not meet with acceptance, and I am afraid that I cannot, at this stage, ask the House to change its plans.

Mr. Lawson

Will the Government understand that this Debate on mining is not being asked for by miners merely because of their industrial interests but that they are very much concerned about the profound influence which this industry has upon the course of the war, and the consequences which may arise unless something is done?

Mr. Eden

I absolutely accept what my hon. Friend says and also recognise the contribution which he always makes, to try to help. I know that he will understand me when I say that certain plans were made some time ago and were announced to Members, and no suggestion was made of any change. A great many people are affected by any sudden changes in our Parliamentary arrangements, including the Government, who have certain responsibilities to carry out, but in spite of all that I did make some suggestions. I suggested that if the matter was so urgent we should—and I was quite willing that we should—sit on Saturday. I was told that there were difficulties in that plan, and I accepted the statement that there were such difficulties, and in those circumstances I think we must adhere to the programme already suggested.

Mr. Erskine-Hill

Either this question of the coal situation is so urgent that it should be debated this week—if necessary at a Saturday Sitting—or it is not so urgent, in which case a great deal of the force of the argument of hon. Members opposite is destroyed. Personally, I take the view that there should be a coal Debate before the House rises and that we should sit on Saturday—[HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."]

Mr. Speaker

This is not an occasion for speeches.

Mr. Erskine-Hill

May I, then, ask my right hon. Friend to bear in mind that a great many Members think that to meet next week would involve unnecessary travel and expense and grave inconvenience?

Mr. A. Bevan

If the right hon. Gentleman was correct in stating that it might be difficult to extend the Debate on the coal situation when we return, because of the pressure of Parliamentary Business, why have the Government decided to take this Recess; and will he bear in mind that the taking of a Recess by Parliament at the present time is going to have serious psychological consequences? Will he, further, bear in mind that we are raising this matter, not merely from the point of view of Parliamentary pressure, but that there is a very serious situation in the coal industry which must be dealt with?

Mr. Eden

Perhaps I can answer first, the hon. Member's question as to why, if there is so much legislation, we do not go on with our normal Session. That is a perfectly reasonable question, and the answer is simple. It is that the Bills which we wish to introduce are not now in a form to be presented to the House—

Mr. Bevan

Why not?

Mr. Eden

I am entitled to give my answer to the hon. Member. The Government hope that both Bills concerned will be ready for discussion by the House when it returns. That was the programme arranged and announced to every Member early last week and not questioned by anybody. As to the Adjournment for the period which we are now suggesting, we are, in fact, taking rather less holiday, on the whole, than we did last year or the year before. The practice which we suggest is quite normal, and I submit that the country will not regard it as otherwise. As regards the coal situation, I, honestly, understand the anxiety of hon. Members. There are two courses—either to debate the matter on Saturday, which I am perfectly willing to do, if that is the wish of the House—

Mr. Greenwood

May I say that if that is the wish of the House, my hon. Friends will gladly fall in with it?

Mr. Bevan

On a point of Order. The right hon. Gentleman said that the reason for this Recess was because Bills were not ready. Is it not incorrect for him to say that, in view of the fact that the Workmen's Compensation Bill was introduced before the last Recess and is available to all hon. Members? In other words, the right hon. Gentleman is misleading the House.

Mr. Eden

That is not a point of Order. If I may say so, the Government are really entitled to handle their own business in their own way, and to bring forward Measures in the order which they think fit. Even if that is the only prerogative they have the Government propose to continue to exercise it.

Mr. Buchanan

There has been great controversy about meeting on Saturday or next week. May I put two considerations to the right hon. Gentleman? He has made great play with the argument about arrangements having to be altered, but if he tells us on Thursday that there is to be a meeting on Saturday, it means to a large number of Members a lot of alteration in their plans, and it cuts both ways. There is another aspect of the matter. To debate this issue on one day only—Saturday—would, in my view, be totally inadequate. I think the situation is urgent, and I think there was a good deal to be said at one time for debating it on Friday and Saturday, but to come now and suggest meeting on Saturday is unfair. This is not a question only for miners and mine owners. Some of us from large industrial districts are greatly concerned, and to fling this issue suddenly before us is most unfair to all Members. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider the matter and not to close his mind against meeting next week. Normally, a good case could be presented for the proposed Adjournment, and I was not opposed to it, but I think two days might well be allowed next week to discuss this question properly.

Mr. Eden

I am very anxious to meet what I believe to be the genuine feelings of the House in this matter. I should say that the Cabinet considered all this last night with a real desire to try to meet this problem. There are really two suggestions. I think we should do better to stick to the plan we have made, namely, to discuss to-day and on the next Sitting Day subjects which affect the direction of labour, and, when we come back, to have a coal Debate, on either one or two days. That is what I, personally, think would be best. But if hon. Members think that the matter is so urgent that we should debate it before we go, the Government are prepared to suggest Saturday. We have tried to balance the thing fairly, and I think the decision must lie between these two courses. The Government are prepared to agree to either.

Mr. Maxton

As a Member of a small Opposition party, I should like to raise two points. As a matter of courtesy, the programme suggested was communicated to us by the Whips' Department. I accepted it, although I was not altogether in favour of it, as I understood it had been agreed to through the usual channels, which, however, do not adequately represent all the forces in this House. Will the Leader of the House try to make the necessary adjustment in this respect? I deplore very much the obvious acrimony that exists among those who are supposed to be supporters of the Government. Will the right hon. Gentleman try, when submitting a programme of Business to the House, to see that he has the maximum possible agreement for it before he comes to a decision?

Mr. Boothby

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will not give serious consideration to the possibility of recalling this House one day sooner and having a two-days Debate? Would that not be a course convenient to all of us?

Mr. Eden

I am perfectly ready to do that. It is one of the proposals that I made yesterday through the usual channels.

Mr. Evelyn Walkden

Why is it proposed to use the time of the House to discuss the Water Undertakings Bill, which has been on the stocks now for well over three months? Why are we to use one day for it when, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, the Bill can wait?

Mr. Eden

The Bill has been waiting for some time, and we are now anxious to get on with it.

Mr. Tinker

May I suggest that we carry on with the man-power Debate and come back a week earlier, and then take the coalmining Debate on two days?

Mr. Eden

I have tried to get the feeling of the House, and I think that the best decision is this, that to-day and on the next Sitting Day we take the discussion as arranged, which allows a large part of the subject of the direction of labour to be raised, and that we come back on the Sitting Day originally proposed, and I will do my best so to arrange the programme that we can give two days to the Debate when we come back. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."]

Mr. Shinwell

Has the right hon. Gentleman now withdrawn his offer to meet on Saturday?

Mr. Eden

I have tried to get the sense of the House, and I think I have expressed the sense of the House.

Sir H. Morris-Jones

May I ask your permission, Sir, to raise another matter? On Tuesday, I put a Question down to the Home Secretary, which Question was not reached on Tuesday. To-day I have the following letter from the Under-Secretary—

Mr. Speaker

That seems to have nothing to do with Business, and I cannot allow the hon. Member to raise it.

Division No. 24. AYES.
Albery, Sir Irving Boothby, R. J. G. Conant, Major R. J. E.
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir W. J. (Armagh) Bower, Norman (Harrow) Cook, Lt.-Col. Sir T. R. A. M.(N'Rk,N.)
Anderson, Rt. Hon. Sir J. (Se'h Univ.) Bower, Comdr. R. T. (Cleveland) Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)
Apsley, Lady Braithwaite, Major A. N. (Buckrose) Cooper, Rt. Hon, A. Duff
Assheton, R. Brass, Capt. Sir W. Crooke, Sir J. Smedley
Astor, Visc'tess (Plymouth, Sutton) Broadbridge, Sir G. T. Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R. Brocklebank, Sir C. E. R. Crowder, Capt. J. F. E.
Balfour, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. H. Brooke, H. (Lewisham) Davidson, Viscountess (H'm'l H'mst'd)
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith) Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)
Beattie, F. (Cathcart) Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Newbury) Davison, Sir W. H.
Beauchamp, Sir B. C. Bull, B. B. De Chair, Capt. S. S.
Beaumont, Maj. Hn. R.E.B.(P'tsm'th) Bullock, Capt. M. Denman, Hon. R. D.
Beechman, N. A. Burton, Col. H. W. Denville, Alfred
Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Butcher, Lieut. H. W. Digby, Capt. K. S. D. W.
Bennett, Sir P. F. B. (Edgbaston) Campbell, Dermot (Antrim) Doland, G. F.
Berry, Hon. G. L. (Buckingham) Cary, R. A. Donner, Squadron-Leader P. W.
Bevin, Rt. Hon. E. Chapman, A. (Ruthergten) Drewe, C.
Bird, Sir R. B. Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.) Duckworth, W. R. (Moss Side)
Blair, Sir R. Chorlton, A. E. L. Dugdale, Major T. L. (Richmond)
Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. Cobb, Captain E. C. Duncan, Rt. Hon. Sir A. R. (C. Ldn.)
Mr. Eden

I beg to move, That this House, at its rising on the next Sitting Day, do adjourn till the first Sitting Day after l0th October.

Sir H. Williams

As this Motion will be printed in a document which will be open to purchase by any one of His Majesty's subjects or any other person who likes to go to His Majesty's Stationery Office, shall we not now terminate the farce of using the expression Sitting Day and publish to the world what everybody knows, to judge by the crowds which assemble every day in the Central Hall? It is a complete farce and an inconvenience to everybody.

Mr. Eden

I was proposing to make a proposal to the House in the new Session of Parliament when it takes place, which will not be very long from now.

Captain Cunningham-Reid

May I ask why there seems to be reluctance on the part of the Government to impose additional work on this House? Is the Leader of the House aware that between 6th August last year and 6th August this year, that is to say, 365 days, we have met only 118 times and does he think that that compares favourably with the amount of work that was done by those in the Services and in war work?

Mr. A. Edwards

With regard to the discussion now taking place on the subject of currency exchange, may I ask that no decision will be taken before this House has an opportunity of discussing the matter?

Question put, That this House, at its rising on the next Sitting Day, do adjourn till the first Sitting Day after l0th October.

The House divided: Ayes, 227; Noes, 99.

Eccles, D. M. Kerr, Sir John Graham (Scottish U's.) Ross Taylor, W.
Eden, Rt. Hon. A. Kimball, Major L. Rothschild, J. A. de
Edmondson, Major Sir J. Knox, Major-General Sir A. W. F. Royds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.
Emery, J. F. Lakin, C. H. A. Russell, Sir A. (Tynemouth)
Emmott, C. E. G. C. Lamb, Sir J. O. Salt, E. W.
Emrys-Evans, P. V. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Sanderson, Sir F. B.
Erskine-Hill, A. G. Linstead, H. N. Savory, Professor D. L.
Evans, Colonel A. (Cardiff, S.) Little, Dr. J. (Down) Shakespeare, Sir G. H.
Evans, D. O. (Cardigan) Lloyd, Major E. G. R. (Renfrew, E.) Shaw, Major P. S. (Wavertree)
Fermoy, Lord Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S Shephard, S.
Fildes, Sir H. Loftus, P. C. Shute, Col. Sir J. J.
Fox, Flight-Lieut. Sir G. W. G. Lucas, Major Sir J. M. Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W. D.
Galbraith, Comdr. T. D. Lyons, Major A. M Smith, Bracewell (Dulwich)
Gammans, Capt. L. D. Mabane, W. Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
Carro Jones, G. M. McAndrew, Colonel Sir C. G. Smith, Sir R. W. (Aberdeen)
Gates, Major E. E. McCorquodale, Malcolm S. Smith, T. (Normanton)
George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd(P'broke) McEwen, Capt. J. H. F. Snadden, W. McN.
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey) McKie, J. H. Somerset. T.
Gibson, Sir C. G. Magnay, T. Southby, Comdr. Sir A. R. J.
Gledhill, G. Maitland, Sir A. Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
Goldie, N. B. Makins, Brig.-Gen. Sir E. Strickland, Capt. W. F.
Graham, Capt. A. C. Mander, G. le M. Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray & Nairn)
Greenwell, Colonel T. G. Manningham-Buller, Major R. E. Sueter, Rear-Admiral Sir M. F.
Gretton, J. F. Mayhew, Lt.-Col. J. Summers, G. S.
Gridley, Sir A. B. Medlicott, Colonel Frank Sutcliffe, H.
Grigg, Sir E. W. M. (Altrincham) Mellor, Sir J. S. P. Taylor, Major C. S. (Eastbourne)
Grimston, R. V. Mitchell, Colonel H. P. Thomas, Dr. W. S. Russell (S'th'm'tn)
Gunston, Major Sir D. W. Morris-Jones, Sir Henry Thomson, Sir J. D. W.
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Sir D. H. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.) Thurtle, E.
Hammersley, S. S. Morrison, Major J. G. (Salisbury) Tomlinson, G.
Hannon, Sir P. J. H. Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester) Touche, G. C.
Harris, Rt. Hon. Sir P. A. Murray, Sir D. K. (Midlothian, N.) Tufnell, Lieut.-Comdr. R. L.
Harvey, T. E. Nicholson, G. (Farnham) Turton, R. H.
Hely-Hutchinson, M. R. Nicolson, Hon. H. G. (Leicester, W.) Wakefield, W. W.
Henderson, A. (Kingswinford) Nunn, W. Ward, Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
Henderson, J. J. Craik (Leeds, N.E.) O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H. Wardlaw-Milne, Sir J. S.
Henderson, T. (Tradeston) Paling, W. Watt, Lt,-Col. G. S. H. (Richmond)
Heneage, Lt.-Col. A. P. Peake, Rt. Hon. O. Wedderburn, H. J. S.
Hewlett, T. H. Petherick, Major M. Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.
Higgs, W. F. Peto, Major B. A. J. White, H. Graham (Birkenhead, E.)
Hill, Prof. A. V. Pickthorn, K. W. M. Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W. (Blaydon)
Holdsworth, H. Pilkington, Captain R. A. Wilkinson, Ellen
Hopkinson, A. Plugge, Capt. L. F. Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Horsbrugh, Florence Ponsonby, Col. C. E. Willink, H. U.
Howitt, Dr. A. B. Pownall, Lt.-Col. Sir Assheton Windsor-Clive, Lt.-Col. G.
Hulbert, Wing-Commander N. J. Prior, Comdr. R. M. Womersley, Rt. Hon. Sir W.
Hume, Sir G. H. Procter, Major H. A. Woolley, Major W. E.
Hunter, T. Pym, L. R. Wootton-Davies, J. H.
James, Wing-Com. A. (Well'borough) Radford, E. A. Wragg, H.
Jarvis, Sir J. J. Raikes, Flight-Lieut. H. V. A. M. Wright, Mrs. Beatrice F. (Bodmin)
Jeffreys, General Sir G. D. Rankin, Sir R. Wright, Group Capt. J. (Erdington)
Jennings, R. Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C. (Hillhead) York, Major C.
Jewson, P. W. Reid, W. Allan (Derby) Young, A. S. L. (Partick)
Jowitt, Rt. Hon. Sir W. A. Rickards, G. W.
Keeling, E. H. Roberts, W. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—
Keir, Mrs. Cazalet Robertson, D. (Streatham) Mr. Boulton and
Kerr, H. W. (Oldham) Robertson, Rt. Hon. Sir M. A.(Mitcham) Mr. J.P.L. Thomas.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven) Dugdale, John (W. Bromwich) Leslie, J. R.
Banfield, J. W. Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty) Loverseed, J. E.
Barnes, A. J. Edwards, N. (Caerphilly) McGhee, H. G.
Barr, J. Edwards, Walter J. (Whitechapel) Mack, J. D
Barstow, P. G. Foster, W. MacLaren, A.
Bartlett, C. V. O. Frankel, D. Maclean, N. (Govan)
Bellenger, F. J. Fraser, T. (Hamilton) Macmillan, M. (Western Isles)
Benson, G. Gibbins, J. McNeil, H.
Bevan, A. Granville, E. L. Mainwaring, W. H.
Bowles, F. G. Green, W. H. (Deptford) Messer, F.
Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell) Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. Montague, F.
Brown, T. J. (Ince) Grenfell, D. R. Morrison, R. C. (Tottenham, N.)
Brown, W. J. (Rugby) Griffiths, G. A. (Hemsworth) Mort, D. L.
Buchanan, G. Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Islington, N.) Muff, G.
Burke, W. A. Guy, W. H. Murray, J. D. (Spennymoor)
Chater, D. Hardie, Agnes Naylor, T. E.
Cluse, W. S. Henderson, J. (Ardwick) Oldfield, W. H.
Cocks, F. S Hollins, J. H. (Silvertown) Oliver, G. H.
Colindridge, F. Hughes, R. Moelwyn Parker, J.
Cove, W. G. Isaacs, G. A. Pearson, A.
Daggar, G. Jenkins, A. (Pontypool) Pethick-Lawrence, Rt. Hon F. W.
Davies, Clement (Montgomery) Kendall, W. D. Pritt, D. N.
Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton) Kirby, B. V. Rathbone, Eleanor
Dobbie, W. Lawson, J. J. Reakes, G. L. (Wallasey)
Driberg, T. E. N. Leonard, W. Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)
Reid, Capt. A. Cunningham (St. M.) Smith, E. (Stoke) Walkden, E. (Doncaster)
Ridley, G. Sorensen, R. W. Watson, W. McL.
Riley, B. Stewart, W. Joseph (H'gton-le-Spring) White, H. (Derby, N.E.)
Ritson, J. Summerskill, Dr. Edith Woodburn, A.
Robinson, W. A. (St. Helens) Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield) Woods, G. S. (Finsbury)
Sexton, T. M. Thomas, I. (Keighley) Young, Sir R. (Newton)
Shinwell, E. Thorneycroft, H. (Clayton)
Silverman, S. S. Tinker, J. J. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—
Sloan, A. Viant, S. P. Mr. Mothers and
Mr. R. J. Taylor.
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