HC Deb 03 February 1944 vol 396 cc1410-4
Mr. Greenwood

May I ask the leader of the House to state the Business for the next Sitting Days?

Mr. Eden

The Business will be as follows:

First and Second Sitting Days—Committee stage of the Education Bill.

Third Sitting Day—Second Reading of the Income Tax (Offices and Employments) Bill, and Committee stage of the necessary Ways and Means Resolution; Second Reading of the House of Commons Disqualification (Temporary Provisions) Bill; and Committee and remaining stages of the Courts (Emergency Powers) (Scotland) Bill [Lords].

Fourth Sitting Day—Committee stage of the Civil Supplementary Estimates; Second Reading of the Public Works Loans Bill and the Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution; and further progress with the Guardianship (Refugee Children) Bill [Lords], and Naval Forces (Extension of Service) Bill [Lords].

Mr. Shinwell

Can my right hon. Friend say at this stage what subject is likely to be selected on the Civil Supplementary Estimates on the fourth Sitting Day?

Mr. Eden

There are several different Estimates. It is likely, I think, that the Dominions Office Vote may be one of them. Perhaps hon. Members, after studying the list, will, through the usual channels, consider what subjects are most likely to meet the general wishes. There is a wide selection to choose from but it will, of course, be for the Chair to decide what is in Order.

Mr. Pickthorn

Is there any prospect of a Debate on the Motion and Amendment signed by Members of all parties about Regulation 18B?

[That this House is of opinion that the time has come for reconsideration of Regulation 18B and of the practicability of bringing to trial those now in detention on the sole responsibility of the Home Secretary.


Line 2, leave out from 18B to end, and add "so that, with a view to removing all questions of detention or release out of the arena of political controversy and relieving the Home Secretary of sole responsibility therefor, a judicial tribunal may be provided to determine what are the facts and whether on these facts there is reasonable cause to believe that such detention is necessary."]

Mr. Eden

I am afraid that I cannot say anything about that now. No arrangements are at present in hand about it.

Mr. Moelwyn Hughes

Is it intended to extend the Sittings of the House on the first two Sitting Days in order that some material progress might be made with the considerable number of Amendments to the Education Bill that are down on the Order Paper?

Mr. Eden

I should rather hope that we might be able to make good progress without doing that.

Captain Cobb

May I ask when we are to have the long promised Debate on the war situation?

Mr. Eden

I have been in consultation with the Prime Minister about that. I cannot give a definite date now, but, naturally, we would like to have it as soon as my right hon. Friend thinks it is a good moment, militarily and internationally, to have it.

Commander King-Hall

Will the Government spare a short time to discuss the Motion standing in my name and those of 248 of my hon. Friends on the supply of copies of Hansard to the libraries of the Armed Forces?

[That, in the opinion of this House, copies of Hansard should be provided at the public expense to Navy, Army and Air Force libraries, information centres and news rooms.]

Mr. Eden

That may or may not be a good plan, but I do not think we want to debate it.

Commander King-Hall

If another 59 Members put their names to this Motion, so that it obtains a majority of the House, will the Government accept it as an affirmative Resolution?

Mr. Eden

I do not think we have ever proceeded by that method before.

Commander King-Hall

I beg to give notice that I will raise the matter on the Adjournment.

Sir H. Williams

When will the Motion be taken to approve the British Guiana Constitution (Amendment) Order which was made by the Privy Concil on 11th March last and published to this House only two days ago?

Mr. Eden

The hon. Gentleman was good enough to give me notice of this Question, but unfortunately the Colonial Secretary is indisposed and I have not had a chance to consult with him. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will put a Question down or repeat it next week, and I will give him a further answer.

Commander Sir Archibald Southby

In view of the fact that the principle of delegated legislation is running through many of the Bills we are now discussing, will the Government consider giving time to a Motion on the Order Paper on the subject in the name of the hon. Member for Kidderminster (Sir J. Wardlaw-Milne), as it is desirable to have a Debate on the principle at the earliest possible date?

[That this House desires the setting up now of a Standing Committee of all parties to examine the delegated legislative powers conferred upon the Executive for war purposes and to report which of these powers should be terminated when hostilities with Germany cease.]

Mr. Eden

I will look at that and consider whether anything can be done.

Mr. Gallacher

Will the Leader of the House consider seriously the necessity of the Prime Minister making a statement on the serious situation that confronts the people of this country in view of the great cynicism that has been aroused as a result of the Prime Minister's intervention in a by-election squabble?

Lieut.-Commander Gurney Braithwaite

Will my right hon. Friend, in order to meet a practical difficulty arising out of the war, give rather longer than the normal notice when the various Service Estimates are to be taken, so that Members serving in the Forces may have ample opportunity of being present?

Mr. Eden

I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman has a point there, and I will see whether something can be done about it.

Captain Duncan

In view of the fact that the Minutes of the Proceedings of this House which I received last week-end stated the day to which the House was adjourned, will the right hon. Gentleman, in future, cease using the words "First, Second and Third Sitting Days"?

Mr. Eden

That has been gone into several times and the position has been fully explained by my right hon. Friend.

Mr. Silverman

Has not the situation changed a little since we began sitting on four days a week? Since everybody knows or can guess what are the Sitting Days, what is the point of going on with this mockery of not mentioning the days of the week?

Mr. Eden

The hon. Gentleman is as capable of making that conclusion as I am.

Mr. Reakes

Is the right hon. Gentleman now in a position to indicate the probable date of the introduction of the promised Bill dealing with the pensions of State pensioners?

Mr. Eden

The Bill presents certain drafting difficulties because account has to be taken of the differing positions of local authorities up and down the country, but we hope to be in a position to present it in about a fortnight's time.

Mr. Buchanan

Are the Government seriously going to continue sitting on a fourth day each week when everybody knows that an hour extra on the other days would save a meeting on the fourth day? It does not redound to the credit of Parliament when there is hardly anybody here, because nobody is taking the fourth day seriously.

Mr. Eden

I really do not accept the hon. Gentleman's description of the fourth Sitting Day. We have a certain amount of business to do and we must, as far as I can see, meet on the fourth day to do it. I cannot find any other way out of it.

Mr. Maxton

May I add my voice to that of the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan)? As a faithful Member of the House I sat through the Sitting on the fourth Sitting Day of the last series, and there was a very select company. Some compression would have been possible. I think that if we were to have Questions on that day, it would, at least, give the majority of Members something to come for.

Mr. Eden

I, naturally, do not want to ask the House to sit longer than is absolutely necessary, but there is this legislative programme to be put through. I have done my best to meet the wishes of my hon. Friend. I even put Newfoundland on the programme on a fourth day, knowing his interest in that subject. We shall watch the position, but, as far as I can see, no further compression is in our power.

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Speaker

This is becoming a Debate. There is no Motion before the House.

Mr. Stokes

Will the Leader of the House explain why there is an objection to Questions on the fourth Sitting Day? Formerly we always had them on four days.

Mr. Eden

This House has never had Questions on that day, and I do not think it would be good to start the practice; in addition to which, we have been fortunate enough to complete the Order Paper more than once lately.