HC Deb 11 May 1944 vol 399 cc2112-3

Ordered: That the Proceedings on Government Business be exempted, at this day's Sitting, from the provisions of the Standing Order (Sittings of the House)."—[Mr. Attlee.]

Mr. Shinwell (Seaham)

Off a point of Order. Is a Motion for the Adjournment of the House until Tuesday not to be moved? Apparently the Patronage Secretary has just declined to move now, in a full House, a Motion which the Government had intended to move. I am not certain whether this is a point of Order, but may I put it to the Government, or to you, Mr. Speaker, or to both, that if we are to have a Motion of that kind it ought to be submitted to the House at an opportune time and not on an occasion when most hon. Members may, perhaps, have gone.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. James Stuart)

I had not intended to move the Motion now, for the very good reason that we have not yet concluded the Report stage of the Education Bill. If I were to move that we should adjourn until Tuesday before we got the Education Bill, we might find ourselves having to deal with the Education Bill next week.

Mr. Shinwell

May I ask the Deputy Prime Minister, who is leading the House, whether he will agree, in all the circumstances and in view of the representations made by hon. Members, not to move the Motion to which I refer but to proceed with the Education Bill to-morrow if it is necessary, and if it is concluded let us take to-morrow as an Adjournment Day?

The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)

It is largely a matter of what is the general feeling of the House. If a substantial number of Members want to meet, no doubt we could meet. I was not quite sure whether that was the general wish of the House.

Mr. Bowles (Nuneaton)

Surely the position is this, that the right hon. Gentleman is obviously holding out as a bait to the House a free day to-morrow, if they get rid of the Education Bill to-day. Supposing the Education Bill is finished within the next five or six hours, will the Patronage Secretary then rush into the House and move that we adjourn until Tuesday next?

Mr. Attlee

There will be plenty of time for consideration of that point before it arises. That would be the normal thing, but it is obvious that the Patronage Secretary cannot decide until we know what progress we make with the Bill.

Sir Percy Harris (Bethnal Green, South-West)

Is it not a substantial reason for sitting to-morrow that a number of Members want a Debate on the Adjournment, and I cannot see that anyone would be inconvenienced except, perhaps, one or two Ministers?

Mr. Attlee

It is only right that my right hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary should not move the Motion now.

Mr. Stokes (Ipswich)

Let me put it to the Deputy Prime Minister that, quite clearly, the length of speeches to-day, and the number of Amendments on the Education Bill which we talk upon, will depend upon whether it is the Government's intention to let the House sit tomorrow. If the Government want a speedy passage for the Education Bill, they ought to let us sit to-morrow. Otherwise, I shall speak on every Amendment. Why should we not have an assurance from the Government now, that if the Education Bill is finished to-day we shall sit to-morrow and treat to-morrow as an Adjournment Day? What is the difficulty?

Mr. Attlee

There is no difficulty. It is only a question of meeting the convenience of Members, who have been fairly heavily pressed. If the House wants to sit to-morrow, by all means let it sit.

Mr. Bowles

Will the Deputy Prime Minister ask or instruct his right hon. Friend the Patronage Secretary when he comes in to move the Adjournment of the House till Tuesday, to tell some of us that he proposes to do so?

Mr. Attlee

If we sit to-morrow, the Motion will be moved to-morrow.

Mr. Keeling (Twickenham)

May I suggest this solution, that the Patronage Secretary should move now, that if the proceedings on the Education Bill are completed by a certain hour to-day, we shall adjourn until Tuesday, and let the House now decide whether we shall do that or not?