HC Deb 21 December 1944 vol 406 cc1953-7
Mr. Arthur Greenwood

May I ask the Leader of the House what will be the Business for the week after the Recess?

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

The Business when we meet again in the New Year will be as follows:

Tuesday, 16th January—Second Reading of the Wages Councils Bill and Com- mittee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

Wednesday and Thursday, 17th and 18th January—Committee and, if possible, remaining stages of the Representation of the People Bill.

The Business for Friday, 19th January, will be announced later.

Mr. Greenwood

In view of the Prime Minister's statement the other day, which visualised the desirability of an early war Debate, could not an early day be kept in hand and used for that and the Business for that day be transferred to a later day in the week? What I have in mind is that perhaps, if there were to be a war Debate, it would be most advantageous that it should take place at the earliest opportunity.

Mr. Eden

I think that all my right hon. Friend referred to was the possibility of an early war Debate, and it is possible that may be required. If so, we will make the necessary re-arrangement of Business because I do not think it would be a good idea to have the Debate on the Friday.

Sir W. Davison

In view of the important statement made by the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs with regard to the British Council and of the important work which is done by this body, will my right hon. Friend consider the desirability of allowing a Debate at an early date so that both the House and the country may know more about the work of the British Council, on which at present they are very ignorant?

Mr. Eden

I am certainly not opposed to a discussion; indeed, I think it might be very useful. As regards the occasion, there might be one on the Foreign Office Estimates or on the Report of the Public Accounts Committee, but we would welcome an occasion, if one could be found.

Mr. Tree

In view of the fact that the Chicago Conference clearly indicated that the United States intend to embark on a policy of open competition, and also of the fact that the powers of the Minister for Civil Aviation are still undefined, and that, as far as I know, he has no Ministry, can the Leader of the House give us an assurance that we can have a Debate on civil aviation at an early date?

Mr. Eden

Without accepting either of my hon. Friend's reasons for a Debate exactly as he states them, I think it is desirable that we should have a discussion upon this subject, and I know the House wants it soon. It cannot be taken in the first week, but I hope that it may be very soon after.

Sir Hugh O'Neill

Has my right hon. Friend noticed the Motion which appeared on the Paper the day before yesterday in my name and that of all the other Members of Ulster constituencies, with regard to restrictions on communications between this country and Northern Ireland; and will he consider giving time for a Debate on it some time after the House re-assembles?

[That in the opinion of this House the time has now come when the existing restrictions on travel and communication between Great Britain and Northern Ireland should be modified, with special reference to such matters as the provision of greatly increased shipping facilities; the relaxation of the rules governing the issue of travel permits, the abolition of the censorship on correspondence originating in Northern Ireland and its modification in the case of correspondence originating in Great Britain; and generally that the special disabilities suffered by the people of Northern Ireland during over five years of war should be removed at the earliest possible moment.]

Mr. Eden

I would have to look into that. I will have a word with the Home Secretary about it.

Mr. Moelwyn Hughes

Does the right hon. Gentleman contemplate giving the House an opportunity of discussing the alterations in motor taxation suggested by the Chancellor of the Exchequer the day before yesterday?

Mr. Eden

There will be an opportunity, I should imagine, in the Budget discussions.

Mr. Hughes

Surely this exceptional course of publishing, in advance of the Budget, a projected alteration in taxation, should be discussed by the House, so that the Chancellor may have the advantage of knowing the views of the House upon it?

Mr. Eden

We have had no representations about this until the present moment. I am to-day dealing with the Business for the week after we resume, and I should not like to commit myself on the subject.

Mr. Buchanan

With regard to the possibility of a Debate on the war situation, it is too early yet to say what form the Debate will take. May I ask, therefore, that some kind of notice should be given to us? It might be on a Motion, and in that case, as it may be on the first day after the Recess, I trust that some notice will be given to Members, so that we can understand what the Motion is.

Mr. Eden

I would like to consider that through the usual channels, but, as I explained, all my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said was that a Debate was a possibility and that he thought it fair to warn the House. I cannot go beyond that, and it is impossible to tell what the situation will be at the time of our return.

Mr. Greenwood

May I put another point to the Leader of the House, seeing that we are rising to-day? My hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Mr. Cocks) made a suggestion a little earlier which I should like to reinforce by asking my right hon. Friend whether he will use all his good offices to see whether a Christmas truce can be introduced in Greece, as perhaps one way of assisting matters?

Mr. Eden

I did make a fairly full statement of the Government's view on this matter yesterday, and I hope I made it clear to the House and to all in Greece that it is our desire that this business should be brought to a speedy conclusion. That is the position of His Majesty's Government, on that position we stand, and by that position we must hold.

Mr. Cocks

That is another aspect altogether, and has nothing to do with the position in reference to Christmas.

Mr. Speaker

We are not discussing the Greek situation now, but are on a question of Business.

Mr. Cocks

Could I ask the Leader of the House, as he made an answer, whether he will seriously consider the suggestion I made?

Mr. Eden

Our object in this war is not to stop it for a week but to obtain a final solution. With that purpose in view I made a number of statements in the House yesterday which have been transmitted to Greece, and I hope those statements will have the effect desired. I really cannot say more than that now.