§ The Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Eden)
The suggestion made by the Prime Minister yesterday that my right hon. Friends the Home Secretary, the Secretary of State for Air, and other Ministers who are most concerned, should meet Members of the House whose constituencies are directly affected by the flying-bomb attacks, so that hon. Members can bring to their notice any suggestions or any criticisms, seems, so far as I have been able to make soundings, to meet with pretty general approval in the House. I am glad to be able to tell the House that the Government have decided to adopt that suggestion, and the Home Secretary has arranged for the meeting to take place on Tuesday next. Hon. Members will be notified of the time and place in due course.
§ Mr. Tinker
May I suggest that, after we have met together, if satisfaction is not given and there is a necessity for a Debate, that such Debate should be in Secret Session?
§ Sir Herbert Williams
The Prime Minister made another suggestion, if I recollect aright: namely, that there should be one particular Minister detailed, to be at the disposal of Members with regard to suggestions, perhaps more on civil aspects than on defence aspects. Has my right hon. Friend any statement to make with regard to the other proposal?
§ Sir H. Williams
Which Parliamentary Secretary—on the Home Office side, or on the Home Security side?
§ Mr. Arthur Greenwood
Would it not be wise for my right hon. Friend to say—because it is not quite clear from his statement—whether it is intended to hold regular meetings on the matter for the time being? I say that because, personally, I should be sorry to have a Debate in Secret Session, since all the good that the Prime Minister's statement did yesterday would then be undone. It would create alarm here and misrepresentation in enemy countries.
§ Major Sir Jocelyn Lucas
May Members who live in London attend this meeting, as well as the Members for London constituencies?
§ Mr. Greenwood
I hope that this will not become a new House of Commons practice; but there are Members representing reception areas, who have their problems, and I think that they ought to be allowed to go to the meeting, and put their problems to the Home Secretary.
§ Mr. R. C. Morrison
Will the right hon. Gentleman make it clear whether these meetings will be entirely private and confidential, or whether any statement will be issued on the matters discussed?
Lieut.-Colonel Sir Ian Fraser
I would like to follow the question of the hon. Member for South Croydon (Sir H. Williams), by asking which particular Minister should be approached with a view to ascertaining whether Parliamentary Questions should be put dawn or not. There are, sometimes questions which a Member may feel are of great public interest, or which may contribute something, but he hesitates to put them down in case there should be some security angle involved of which he cannot be aware.
§ Mr. Buchanan
Will there be a public announcement stating which Minister is being appointed to deal with this matter, so that all Members of the House may be able to communicate with him?
§ Mr. Buchanan
I do not want to attend the meeting, and I think that it should be confined to Members for the London area or for reception areas, who have their own problems. I have no such problems. But we who have connections with London trade union offices want to have some communication with them, and we 'may wish to communicate with the person who is appointed.
§ Captain Plugge
On the point raised by my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Lonsdale (Sir I. Fraser), may I say that I put down on the Order Paper some eight Questions, which were turned down on security grounds. The Parliamentary Secretary, who has been specially appointed by the Minister of Home Security to deal with this matter, will be concerned specifically with protection measures. Can hon. Members then approach the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Supply, who is chairman of the special committee on countermeasures, with any question which they 1432 may wish to put on scientific methods for combating the flying bomb on original lines?
§ Mr. Manningham-Buller
I understand that the meeting on Tuesday is intended to be a meeting of those whose constituencies are affected by the enemy at present. Some of us are connected with reception areas. It seems to me that that is a matter for the Minister of Health. Would it be possible, if the occasion arises, for us to have a similar meeting with the Minister of Health, and not' attend on Tuesday?
§ Commander Sir Archibald Southby
I take it that the meeting on Tuesday is really intended to cover as much ground as possible, and to devise the best means by which representations from affected areas can be brought to the Government's notice, and that there can be either another sitting of this same meeting, or separate meetings with one of the Ministers concerned?
§ Major C. S. Taylor
I take it that that meeting is not confined to London Members, because other constituencies in Southern England are definitely affected?