HC Deb 24 February 1944 vol 397 cc984-8
Mr. Arthur Greenwood

May I ask the Leader of the House the Business for the next series of Sittings?

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

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

First Sitting Day—It is proposed to move Mr. Speaker out of the Chair on going into Committee of Supply on the Air Estimates, and to consider Votes A, 1 and 8, and Air Supplementary Estimate in Committee.

Second Sitting Day—Consideration of the Lords Amendments to the Disabled Persons (Employment) Bill; Report and Third Reading of the Reinstatement in Civil Employment Bill; Committee stage of Civil Supplementary Estimates relating to the Foreign Office; Diplomatic and Consular Services, and Old Age Pensions; Report stage of outstanding Supplementary Estimates; and Second Reading of the India (Attachment of States) Bill [Lords].

Third Sitting Day—It is proposed to move Mr. Speaker out of the Chair on the Army Estimates, and to consider Votes A and 1 and Army Supplementary Estimate in Committee.

Fourth Sitting Day—Second Reading of the Pensions (Increase) Bill, and Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution; Committee and remaining stages of the Public Works Loans Bill; and, if there is time, we hope to make further progress with the Naval Forces (Extension of Service) Bill [Lords].

Perhaps I ought at this moment to mention that I propose shortly to ask the House to go into Secret Session, in order that I might make a statement about hours and Sittings of the House.

Mr. Shinwell

Has the right hon. Gentleman yet reached a decision on the proposition made to him regarding a Debate on Dominion economic policy, and, if so, will he say what the decision is?

Mr. Eden

I was asked for a day for Dominion affairs and I have been considering the matter. As the House knows, we expect that in the near future the meeting of Dominion Prime Ministers on inter-Imperial co-operation will take place. As the subject to be discussed is one for all five Governments, the House will understand that His Majesty's Government will not themselves want at this stage to make a considered statement on their account; but, as I understood the request the other day, the desire of hon. Members was that they should express their points of view on the matter. If it is understood that the Government cannot be expected to declare their position before going into this meeting, I will try to arrange the necessary facilities as soon as we reasonably can.

Mr. Turton

When will the Debate on medals, which was promised last November, take place? Will my right hon. Friend bear in mind the importance of giving early notice of that Debate, so that Members serving in the Forces may take part?

Mr. Eden

I will certainly do what my hon. Friend suggests in the second part of the question. With regard to the first part, he knows that the Prime Minister himself has taken a keen interest in the matter. I cannot give a date now when my right hon. Friend will be able to deal with the matter in the House.

Mr. Erskine-Hill

Can my right hon. Friend say anything about a day being given to deal with the question of delegated legislation?

Mr. Eden

We are considering the matter, but I am afraid I cannot give a date to-day.

Mr. R. C. Morrison

What is the policy of the Government in regard to the Education Bill? Is it intended to drag on throughout the whole Session, giving a day occasionally and half a day occasionally? Is there to be any definite proposal, so that we can make progress with the Bill?

Mr. Eden

I do not think my hon. Friend's description is quite accurate. We have been giving two days at a time. It is certainly our desire to make progress, but, as I told the House, I do not wish to resort to any other method of procedure. With a Bill of this kind, it is undesirable to do so if we can avoid it.

Miss Rathbone

Is it proposed in the Debate which my right hon. Friend announced for the second Sitting Day, on foreign affairs, to include the Vote on His Majesty's Government's contribution towards the work of the Inter-Governmental Committee on Refugees, and will ample opportunity be given to discuss the work of that important Committee, because it is a very long time since it has been discussed?

Mr. Eden

The Vote to which the hon. Lady refers is down for discussion.

Miss Rathbone

Is it not unlikely that there will be enough time for it on such a very busy day, with three or four other matters to be considered?

Mr. Eden

I think the hon. Lady can be assured that there will be time. We certainly do not want to burke discussion on this issue.

Mr. Thorne

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether he will be able to get through the Committee stage and Third reading of the Education Bill before Easter?

Mr. Eden

I should much like to, but I would not like to prophesy.

Sir Granville Gibson

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether any decision has been arrived at about a day for the discussion of the Civil List?

Mr. Eden

I cannot make an announcement upon that until the next series of Sittings.

Mr. Stokes

Regarding to-day's Business, would it not be for the convenience of the House if the Leader of the House told us how far he expects to get with the Committee stage of the Education Bill?

Mr. Eden

I think that is a matter on which I look for the co-operation of my hon. Friend. We hope to make reasonable progress, and to come back to the BM, if opportunity offers, after a certain interruption.

Mr. Buchanan

May I ask whether it is intended to sit any later than the normal time to-day?

Hon. Members

One hour.

Mr. Buchanan

Would it not be for the convenience of the House if the right hon. Gentleman were to tell us whether, on the Water Bills for which Business is to be interrupted to-day, any progress has been made in negotiation, and whether the discussion of the Education Bill is likely to be resumed?

Mr. Eden

I have suggested that we should sit for one extra hour, and it is our hope that we shall be able to resume the proceedings on the Education Bill.

Mr. Buchanan

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether, on the Water Bills, there have been any approaches, with a view to shortening the proceedings?

Mr. Eden

I have some hope that it will not take very long.

Mr. Boothby

In view of the fact that a comprehensive Debate on economic policy is taking place in another place, will the Government consider giving a day to a Debate on the Motion standing on the Order Paper in the name of the hon. Member for East Aberdeen?

[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 could not do that at present. We seem to have a pretty rich fare on the menu as it is.

Mr. Granville

On the question of the possibility of a day to discuss Empire economic questions, are we to understand from the right hon. Gentleman's reply that it is the intention of the Government to provide a day, although the Government do not intend to disclose their hand? This subject has been discussed in every Dominion but it has not been discussed in this House for many years. Are we to understand that, on the second Sitting Day in the next series of Sittings, the right hon. Gentleman intends to give another day for a foreign affairs Debate?

Mr. Eden

Regarding the first part of the question, the original request made to me was for a Debate on Dominion relations, in a pretty wide aspect. That was the object I had in mind, and, so long as it is known that the Government cannot make their official pronouncement, I will try to arrange a day in the near future, although I cannot give one now. Regarding the Supplementary Estimates, I do not think they raise very large questions.

Mr. McNeil

Is the right hon. Gentleman in a position to say when we may hope for a Debate on housing?

Mr. Eden

We have that in mind, but I cannot say at present when such a Debate can be arranged.

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