HC Deb 27 January 1944 vol 396 cc866-9
Mr. Greenwood

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

Mr. Eden

Yes, Sir. The Business will be as follows:

First and Second Sitting Days—The promised Debate on Electoral Reform will take place. It will arise on the Motion, which stands on the Paper in the name of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and other Ministers.

[That this House welcomes the proposal of His Majesty's Government to set up a Conference on Electoral Reform and Redistribution of Seats and to invite Mr. Speaker to preside.]

Third Sitting Day—Second Reading of the Reinstatement in Civil Employment Bill and the Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution. If there is time, the Second Reading of the Naval Forces (Extension of Service) Bill [Lords].

Fourth Sitting Day—Committee and remaining stages of the Supreme Court of Judicature (Amendment) Bill, and Report and Third Reading of the Disabled Persons (Employment) Bill, and if there is time, further progress will be made with the Landlord and Tenant (Requisitioned Land) Bill [Lords] and the Guardianship (Refugee Children) Bill [Lords].

Mr. Maxton

May I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman and the Patronage Secretary on the very attractive jumble sale which they have arranged for the Fourth Sitting Day?

Sir John Wardlaw-Milne

May I ask the Leader of the House whether, at a very early date, the Government will arrange to have a Debate on foreign affairs? I think he will probably be aware that there is a fairly widespread demand that a day should be given to a general Debate on foreign affairs, and I would ask the Government to consider whether that could be arranged.

Mr. Eden

Yes, Sir. Of course, we had two days on foreign affairs before the House rose for Christmas and, as the Prime Minister said the other day, he himself is going to make a statement on the war and on the international situation. When that statement is made—I cannot give an exact day, because it depends on other events—it will be in a wide form, to enable the House to debate the war and foreign affairs together. That, in my judgment, is the right way, because they are so closely linked.

Mr. Granville

If the right hon. Gentleman is hard up for subjects in future, for the Fourth Sitting Day, will he consider giving some time to a discussion of the problem of agriculture?

Mr. Eden

I can assure the hon. Member I am not hard up for subjects. The difficulty is to get the Business through, as he will find as the Session progresses.

Mr. W. J. Brown

When may we expect from the Government the Bill relating to the pensions of retired State servants?

Mr. Eden

I am afraid I cannot give a date.

Mr. Brown

May I ask the Leader of the House to remember that, while art is long, life is short, and some of the people we are talking about, are in process of dying while waiting for the Bill?

Mr. Eden

If the hon. Member will give notice of that, I will look into the matter.

Mr. Gallacher

In view of the very critical coal situation, could it not be arranged for the Prime Minister to make a statement on coal, to overcome the very bad effect of his recent sunshine speech?

Mr. Eden

I do not share the hon. Gentleman's diagnosis of my right hon. Friend's speech.

Mr. Parker

Can the right hon. Gentleman give an indication of when the Committee stage of the Education Bill will be taken?

Mr. Eden

Yes, Sir. I hope in the series of Sittings after next.

Mr. Buchanan

May I ask two questions, one of them on coal? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, in parts of the industrial community, the distribution of coal is causing great hardship amongst very poor people, and will he not look into that situation? The second concerns a report issued by Sir John Boyd Orr showing the terrible death-rate in Scotland—the highest, almost, of all European countries. Will the right hon. Gentleman consult with the Secretary of State for Scotland on these terrible figures and agree to a discussion of this Report, which affects a far wider area than Scotland?

Mr. Eden

So far as arrangements for a discussion of these matters are concerned, I should have thought that the point raised in the second part of the Question could well be taken on one day on the Vote of the Ministry of Health, but I will look into that and also into the other point made by the hon. Member.

Mr. Buchanan

May I impress upon the right hon. Gentleman that there are statements in this report that are appalling? It shows a terrible state of things in parts of Britain, and it is not a purely Scottish issue. This is becoming a first-class issue affecting the country as a whole.

Mr. Eden

I shall have to consult the Secretary of State for Scotland about it.