HC Deb 09 March 1944 vol 397 cc2200-3
Mr. Arthur Greenwood

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

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

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

First Sitting Day (2nd Allotted Supply Day)—Report stage of the Air, Army and Navy Estimates, and of outstanding Civil Supplementary Estimates. Committee and remaining stages of the India (Attachment of States) Bill [Lords] and, if there is time, Second Reading of the Police and Firemen (War Service) Bill.

Second Sitting Day (3rd Allotted Supply Day)—Report stage of the Civil and Revenue Departments Vote on Account. A Debate on Housing will take place. As a Debate on this subject in Supply will be limited, I suggest that we should take the Report stage of the Vote on Account formally, and then consider a Motion on Housing which the Government will table.

Third and Fourth Sitting Days—A Debate will take place on a Government Motion relating to the National Health Service.

It may be for the convenience of the House if I tell hon. Members now that we are in process of sending out invitations for the informal discussion about Services pay and allowances, and it is the intention of the Government that my right hon. Friend the Lord President, my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and myself should meet the hon. Members concerned, and we hope that it will be possible to do so in the course of the next series of Sittings.

Mr. Greenwood

Can my right hon. Friend inform the House of the terms of the Housing Motion for the Debate on the Second Sitting Day?

Mr. Eden

I will put it on the Paper. I have not got it actually ready now, but the object in my mind is to allow the Debate to range widely on the legislation proposed, which is what hon. Members have asked for.

Mr. Erskine-Hill

In view of the undesirability of the House being committed in advance by the Government either on housing or on any other question, would the Leader of the House arrange for a Debate as soon as possible on the question of delegated legislation?

Mr. Eden

I cannot give an undertaking to do that before Easter. I do not know why my hon. and learned Friend should say "committed in advance" in respect of housing. I should have thought that it was plain to everybody that the course the Government suggested was to give every possible opportunity to express opinions before legislation is decided.

Mr. Erskine-Hill

Is my right hon. Friend aware that a speech was recently made which appeared to commit the Government to a certain extent?

Mr. Shinwell

May I ask whether, in view of the situation in the coalfields, the right hon. Gentleman will consider putting down the Vote for the Ministry of Fuel and Power and allow the House to discuss the matter?

Mr. Eden

I would have to consider that very carefully. It is not a subject upon which I would like to give an answer without careful consideration.

Mr. Thorne

May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will, at the earliest opportunity, make a statement with regard to the Finland and Russian discussions which are now going on?

Mr. Eden

When we have information to give, we will gladly give it, but my hon. Friend will realise that that is a matter with which others are concerned besides ourselves.

Major C. S. Taylor

Last September, I think it was, we were promised a Debate as soon as possible on the subject of medals. Can the Leader of the House say when we are to have that Debate; and is it necessary that we should debate the White Paper on National Health Services on the Third and Fourth Sitting days of the next series of Sittings? Cannot we have one of those days set aside for the medal Debate?

Mr. Eden

I think it is desirable we should debate this very important issue of the National Health Service as I have suggested. I have been in consultation with my right hon. Friend about the medal Debate. The situation is a complicated one, but I think I can assure the House that it will have a Debate during the series of Sittings after the next series of Sittings.

Earl Winterton

Can my right hon. Friend give any hope that there will be an opportunity for the Debate so persistently and consistently requested by the hon. Member for Seaham (Mr. Shinwell), my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham (Sir E. Grigg) and my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich (Sir G. Shakespeare) and myself on the subject of Empire unity? Could he arrange for that Debate at a very early date?

Mr. Eden

I have that in mind and I hope to suggest a day before Easter.

Mr. Shinwell

The right hon. Gentleman has said that he hopes to suggest a day. Has he not received representations for a two days' Debate, and will he consider, if it is not possible to have a two days' Debate before Easter, whether it might not be better to delay the Debate on the understanding that such a Debate takes place before the Empire Ministers' Conference?

Mr. Eden

I have just received such a suggestion. I am prepared to consider it because. Business is pretty congested between now and Easter, but I would not like to give an answer now.

Mr. Stokes

Is the right hon. Gentleman able to give an indication when the promised Debate on tanks will take place? Last week the right hon. Gentleman said that he would arrange for time before Easter.

Mr. Eden

I still contemplate that it will take place before Easter.

Mr. Maxton

With regard to the next series of Sittings, I understand that the Debate on the Health Services is to be on a Government Motion. Does that mean that there will be the likelihood, or at least the possibility, of a Division at the end of the proceedings on the Fourth Sitting Day? Will the proceedings be extended on that day, or will the Division take place at the appointed hour?

Mr. Eden

Certainly, any Division would take place at that time. I do not propose that there should be any extension of time on the Fourth Sitting Day

Sir H. Williams

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when it is proposed to terminate the arrangement whereby it becomes an offence to disclose the days of the week on which we sit? Every week, by the order of the House, a document is printed which discloses the fact to the world, and as the Lobbies reveal it every day, the general public who wish to know are acquainted with the fact of our proceedings. Therefore, is it not a farce to speak of "Sitting Days" instead of naming the days of the week?

Mr. Eden

My right hon. Friend dealt with that point some time ago, and I have nothing more to say.

Mr. De la Bère

Delegated commonsense.