HC Deb 27 April 1944 vol 399 cc938-43
Mr. Arthur Greenwood

Will the Leader of the House state the Business for next week?

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

The Business for next week will be as follows:

Tuesday, 2nd May.—Report stage of the Budget Resolution; Second Reading of the National Loans Bill.

Wednesday, 3rd May.—A Debate will take place on a Government Motion relating to water policy; Committee stage of the National Loans Bill.

Thursday, 4th May—Conclusion of the Committee stage, Report and Third Reading of the Pensions (Increase) Bill, Report and Third Reading of the National Loans Bill, Committee and remaining stages of the Police and Firemen (War Service) Bill.

Friday.—Supply (5th Allotted Day): Committee. The Ministry of War Transport Vote will be considered.

It may perhaps be desirable if I refer a little to plans ahead. We are, of course, very anxious to complete before Whitsuntide the stages of the Education Bill, and I was proposing to put down the Report and Third Reading for the week after next. I thought the House might like to have advance notice. We also desire to have a Foreign Affairs Debate. As has just been explained, the Conference of Dominion Prime Ministers is impending and we thought it better not to have the Debate while that is going on, because we shall be talking of these things with the Dominion Prime Ministers. Immediately that is concluded, will be the appropriate moment for the Debate. Other matters have been raised which we shall have to put into the programme before Whitsun.

Mr. Greenwood

Will the right hon. Gentleman indicate the amount of time that he thinks will be available for Report and Third Reading of the Education Bill?.

Mr. Eden

I think probably about three days.

Mr. Kendall

As one mainly responsible for the reconsideration of Service pay and allowances, I should like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that the White Paper will give general satisfaction and will be greatly welcomed by everyone concerned?

Mr. Shinwell

As regards future plans, may I ask whether the Government have in contemplation allowing the House to debate the White Paper on the international currency arrangements and whether in that event the Leader of the House will consider that subject alongside the Motion standing in the name of the hon. Member for East Aberdeen (Mr. Boothby), other hon. Members and myself, which relates to economic policy?

[That, in the opinion of this House, the primary objective of our economic policy should be the maintenance of full employment; and. His Majesty's Government should now take the steps necessary to carry out an expansionist policy designed to achieve this end.]

Mr. Eden

I ought to have mentioned international currency at the time I mentioned the Debate on Foreign Affairs. We want to make arrangements for a Debate in the pretty near future. As regards the Motion, I would like to consider it.

Mr. Loftus

In view of the vital importance of this matter, will my right hon. Friend allow two days' full discussion of the international currency plan and allow a free vote of the House upon it?

Mr. Eden

I shall have to consider the demand for time a little nearer the occasion.

Sir William Davison

With regard to the Debate on Foreign Affairs, does my right hon. Friend recollect that the Prime Minister said that the recent Debate on Imperial Affairs before the Prime Ministers' Conference was very useful, and would it not be of use also to have the Debate on Foreign Affairs before the conference takes place?

Mr. Eden

I did think that and there is considerable attraction in what my hon. Friend says. The things are not exactly parallel, however, because the Government would themselves wish to make a statement of pretty far-reaching importance if there was a Foreign Affairs Debate, and we thought it would be desirable to have an exchange of views with the Dominion Prime Ministers before we made a statement of that far-reaching character. That is one aspect. The other aspect is that the meetings are so closely impending that I do not see how it is possible to hold a Debate before they begin as the Prime Minister and I will be fairly busy with the meetings, but I will consider it.

Mr. Pethick-Lawrence

Have the Government considered the form of Motion for the currency Debate? I think it will be the general wish of the House to have it as wide as possible and not to have it on a Motion which would bind the Government in advance to any particular view.

Mr. Eden

We have not considered the form of Motion, but we are agreed that it should be wide.

Mr. Boothby

Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the Motion standing in the name of the hon. Member for East Aberdeen is drafted in very wide terms?

Mr. Stokes

Considering the urgency of this Debate, and in view of the fact that this policy involves the return to gold, which we promised should not happen, will the Leader of the House bear in mind that it has already been stated in "The Times" of 22nd April, in a report from Washington, that 30 Governments have agreed to the scheme, and that only Russia's agreement remains—

Mr. Eden

I suggested that we should have an early Debate, but I did not suggest we should have it now.

Mr. Petherick

With regard to the Foreign Affairs Debate, has my right hon. Friend's attention been drawn to two important statements yesterday, one by Governor Bricker, Presidential candidate in the United States, and the other, in an article in "Isvestia," giving the conditions on which, it is reported, Russia would join the I.L.O.? Do not these statements make it important that we should have a Debate in which Members of the House can state their views before the Government and the Conference of Dominion Prime Ministers come to any irrevocable decisions?

Mr. Eden

I am obliged to my hon. Friend for raising those points. It is not a question of coming to irrevocable decisions. The purpose of the meetings is an exchange of views with the Prime Ministers, and the only point that the Prime Minister and the Cabinet have very much in mind is that it would not be a good arrangement that, while the Prime Ministers are here, we should have a Debate on foreign affairs in which the Government must state their position. I should feel in a very much happier position to make a statement after having exchanged views with the Dominion Prime Ministers.

Mr. A. Bevan

May I ask that, before we have the Debate on international currency, the Government will not commit themselves? Will the Government bear in mind that economic agreements of this sort with other nations have the same status as treaty obligations, and, therefore, can be entered into by the Government without first consulting the House of Commons?

Mr. Eden

The position under this agreement is quite plain in that respect. There is no sort of engagement by the Government at all, and no engagement of any kind will be entered into before the discussion takes place.

Mr. Stokes

Is the Washington report incorrect?

Mr. R. C. Morrison

Is it proposed to take the Debate on water policy on a Motion to approve the White Paper, or on a Motion for the Adjournment?

Mr. Eden

There is a Motion on the Paper already.

Mr. Mack

Is it the intention of the Government to allocate a day for a Debate on the Motion standing in my name and the names of 53 other hon. Members, on the Jewish Army?

[That, in the opinion of this House, in addition to the 1,000,000 Jews already serving in the Armed Forces of the United Nations facilities should be afforded for the formation of a Jewish army under British or United Nations command to fight on any required battlefield and to be composed of volunteers not at present liable to compulsory military service, such as stateless, refugee and Palestinian Jews, together with volunteers from neutral countries and territories liberated from the enemy.]

Mr. Eden

I am afraid that in the; present state of Business I could not make special arrangements for that. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will consider taking-advantage of one of the ordinary Parliamentary occasions that arise.

Mr. Mack

In view of the imminence of military operations abroad, and the fact that many thousands of men of this first-class fighting material are readily available, would it not be in the interest of the national effort to encourage the speedy organisation of those who wish to fight?

Mr. Eden

I hardly think that that is a question on Business. I could not make special arrangements for a Debate.

Captain Strickland

In view of the importance of the matter and the obvious divergence of opinion between the Ministry concerned and the Select Committee, would it be possible to allot time for a discussion on the Report of the Select Committee on National Expenditure on rail and road transport?

Mr. Eden

I had thought that that was a matter which could be referred to, when we took the Vote next week.

Mr. Lipson

Is the Bill on the Health Services expected to be introduced before Whitsuntide?

Mr. Eden

I could not say now.

Sir I. Fraser

On the question of soldiers' pay, could the right hon. Gentleman say by what instrument, whether an A.C.I, or a Royal Warrant, these new provisions will be brought into effect; and should there be points upon which Members want to make representations, will there be adequate time for them to do so?

Mr. Eden

I think I am right in saying that they will come in by Royal Warrant, on the first pay day after 1st May.

Sir I. Fraser

That being so, will there be a chance of discussion before then?

Mr. Eden

We had hoped to give the earliest benefit from these proposals to those concerned, and I rather hoped from what has been said that we could regard this matter as one which could come into force straight away and that that would be accepted.

Sir I. Fraser


Mr. Speaker

We cannot argue this matter now.