HC Deb 21 June 1944 vol 401 cc199-200
Mr. Pethick-Lawrence

I would like to ask the Leader of the House whether he has considered the question of extending the time for to-day's Debate on the White Paper on Employment? There is a very large amount of interest in this question and possibly he might consider whether to-morrow—the middle day of the Debate—he could allow an extension of time, in order to give an opportunity to a very large number of Members to take part in the Debate who otherwise will not be able to do so?

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

I am always ready to consider these matters but I rather hope it will not be necessary. We have allotted three days to this discussion, and there is only one Ministerial speech on each day, which hon. Members who are conversant with our peace-time habits may consider to be an innovation, perhaps even a welcome innovation. There is a great deal of time allotted and I think we should see how we get on to-day, and then I will consider the matter.

Mr. Tinker

On our side especially, the question of unemployment is important. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why your side? "] Because it has been our chief interest for a long time. Other people have not been affected like we have.

Mr. Kirkwood

Unemployment means starvation to our people.

Mr. Tinker

Will the right hon. Gentleman give due consideration to satisfying as many hon. Members as possible who want to speak?

Mr. Pethick-Lawrence

Will the right hon. Gentleman not commit himself against the proposal at the moment, until he has taken advice through the usual channels?

Mr. Eden

I said I would like to see how we get on to-day. I fully understand that hon. Members, on all sides of the House, are very deeply interested in the subject, none more than another.

Mr. Shinwell

Does my right hon. Friend realise that this is not like a Bill presented in the House, which goes through various subsequent stages?. We have been assured that the Government are anxious to ascertain the views of the House on the important proposals, contained in the document. Will he therefore give the matter very careful consideration?

Mr. Eden

Certainly, Sir. It was with that in mind that we gave three days and arranged that there should be only one Ministerial speech each day. It is not like a Bill, and we want the views of the House on this matter.

Mr. A. Bevan

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind the special practice now of calling a Minister, then a person from this side and then a person from the other side, so that each day, although we have no Amendment on the Order Paper except one, we have in fact three people each day, who can only be described as making Ministerial statements?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member appears to be making a reflection on the Chair.

Mr. Bevan

No, Sir. I beg pardon, but I think I am within the recollection of the House. I was referring to what, in fact, has happened on previous occasions, and when the right hon. Gentleman says that only one Ministerial speech is to be made each day, as there is no Amendment on the Order Paper it is difficult to see where the opposition is coming from. I was hoping that perhaps some consideration could be given to back benchers.

Mr. Gallacher

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he would get Members to study yesterday's OFFICIAL REPORT and base their speeches on the length of time taken yesterday? In that case, all Members who wish to do so will have an opportunity of speaking.