HC Deb 30 March 1944 vol 398 cc1564-8
Mr. Arthur Greenwood

May I ask the Leader of the House to state 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 and Second Sitting Days—Further progress will be made in Committee on the Education Bill. It is hoped that it will still be found possible to conclude the Committee stage before the Easter Adjournment.

Third' Sitting Day—Adjournment for the Easter Recess.

It may be for the convenience of the House if I now say that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will open his Budget on the first Sitting Day after 23rd April. I will make a later statement as to the proposed arrangements on that day.

As regards Business to-day, it may be the general desire of the House to take a decision on Clause 82 of the Education Bill at a fairly reasonable hour. If that be the case, I want to explain, Mr. Speaker, that I propose to move the suspension of the Rule only so that we may make further progress with the remaining Clauses of the Education Bill.

Mr. Shinwell

On future Business, may I now have a firm reply from my right hon. Friend as to when he proposes to allow us to have a Debate on Imperial policy; and will he bear in mind that it is very desirable that it should not be too long delayed?

Mr. Eden

Yes, Sir, it is my hope to arrange for two days in the first series of Sittings after Easter.

Mr. W. J. Brown

May I ask two questions of the Leader of the House? The first is when does he contemplate taking the remaining stages of the Pensions (Increase) Bill assuming that we do not complete it in this series of Sittings? The second is, will the Government after the Easter Recess provide us with a day for the discussion of the Motion on Equal Pay which stands in my name and that of about 160 Members of this House?

[That this House is in favour of the immediate application of the principle of equal pay as between men and women employed in those classes of the Civil Service where recruitment is open to men and women alike through the same examination, and/or where the men and women members of the class are liable for identical duties.]

Mr. Eden

As regards the first question, I hope we may make good progress with the Bill on the next Sitting Day. Our Business is now a little awry, and I shall have to think again if we have not done so. As regards the second question, I cannot make any statement about that at present.

Captain Cobb

May I ask whether there is any likelihood of having in the fairly near future a Debate on Foreign Affairs, confined solely to Foreign Affairs and not mixed up with the war situation?

Mr. Eden

I certainly think that some time fairly soon after we resume, an opportunity will need to be created. As regards the limits of the Debate, I would not like to pronounce definitively, because these matters have a habit of overlapping.

Mr. Maxton

Did I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that he was suspending the Rule to-day merely as a precautionary measure? Could he give us any indication as to what time he has in mind for reporting Progress? Without such information the whipping of a Party is very difficult.

Mr. Eden

I ask the hon. Gentleman to accept my sympathy in his difficulty. It is not our intention to ask the House to sit late.

Commander Sir Archibald Southby

Following on what was said by the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown), and in view of recent events, will the right hon. Gentleman consider the desirability of affording the House an early opportunity of discussing, on its merits, the question of equal pay?

Mr. Eden

I did say just now, quite definitely that for reasons which I thought the House would probably appreciate, I am not prepared to make any statement on that subject at present.

Mr. Bellenger

Will the right hon. Gentleman indicate when the Government will be in a position to inform the House of the conclusions reached on the deliberations which have taken place between Members of the War Cabinet and private Members of the House, on the question of Service pay and allowances?

Mr. Eden

I am afraid I cannot say that at this moment.

Sir H. Williams

In connection with a Debate on Empire affairs, will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of breaking it into two parts, one dealing with political and the other with economic matters?

Mr. Eden

I think that would be largely a matter for the Chair. As I explained, the Government desire to give hon. Members the widest opportunity to express their own views. The Government themselves will not have any far-reaching statement to make, for obvious reasons, since they are going to enter into consultations themselves.

Mr. Buchanan

In regard to the reply given to the hon. Member for Bassetlaw (Mr. Bellenger), since these negotiations have been carried on for several weeks, and seem likely to continue until after Easter, could the right hon. Gentleman not make a statement to the House informing those who are not on the committee whether the negotiations between the Committee and the Government are continuing? Would he consider, at least when we return after Easter, giving us the Government's conclusion on anything that is decided?

Mr. Eden

Yes, Sir. The hon. Members who were good enough to meet the Ministers have stated their views, and that part of the business is pretty well concluded. It remains for the Government to make their statement. I cannot say now when they will be able to do that but, naturally, we do not want to waste time and I hope it will not be long after we meet again after Easter.

Sir Richard Acland

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman what his ideas are about Business on the next Sitting Day, because I am a little in doubt?

Mr. Eden

As far as I can recollect, I said that on the next Sitting Day we shall go in to Secret Session on the hours of the Sittings of the House, and after that the House will take the remaining stages of the Army and Air Force (Annual) Bill.

Mr. Lipson

In regard to the decision about taking Clause 82 of the Education Bill to-day, will my right hon. Friend have regard to the fact that this is putting certain hon. Members in a difficult position? Will he see that no difficulty is put in the way of those hon. Members who wish to give some justification for their vote?

Mr. Granville

Will the Leader of the House clarify what he said to the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton)? Does he mean that a decision will be taken on Clause 82 at a late hour? Can he give any indication of the time at which he hopes to get a decision on Clause 82?

Mr. Eden

I said earlier that I thought the feeling of the House was that they would like to take a decision early on Clause 82.

Hon. Members


Mr. Eden

If I may be allowed to say so, it is not for the House but for the Chair to decide the exact time.

Commander King-Hall

May I ask for guidance on the question of whether it is permissible to use publicly outside the House the dates mentioned by the Leader of the House, such as the Budget date? Is it permissible for the Press to publish that date?

Mr. Eden

I shall have something to say about those matters on the next Sitting Day.

Mr. Bowles

On the Business for the next series of Sittings, may I have an assurance from the Leader of the House that, whatever happens, there will not be another "Salute the Government Week"?

Mr. Eden

That will depend upon the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Gallacher

I want to ask the Leader of the House whether in view of the feeling that has been expressed in the Army and the country on the subject of pay and allowances he will not arrange for a statement to be made immediately we meet after Easter. Surely during Easter the Government can make up their minds.

Mr. Eden

All I can say is that the Government are not going to delay the matter, but it is a complicated matter and we have a good many burdens on our shoulders just now. I do not want to pledge myself definitely, but we will do it as soon as we can.

Mr. Granville

On a point of Order. Will an ordinary back bencher be in Order if, at an early stage of the discussion upon Clause 82, he submits a Motion "That the Question be now put"?

Mr. Speaker

No: I do not see how that is possible seeing that I am not in the Chair when discussion in Committee takes place.

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