HC Deb 29 November 1944 vol 406 cc56-8

5.18 p.m.

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

I beg to move, That during the present Session, until this House otherwise orders— (1) Standing Orders Nos. 1, 6, 7, 8 and 14 shall have effect as if, for any reference to a time mentioned in the first column of the following Table, there were substituted a reference to the time respectively mentioned in the second column of that Table:

Time mentioned in Standing Orders. Time to be substituted.
2.45 p.m. 11 a.m.
3 p.m. 11.15 a.m.
3.45 p.m. 12 noon
7.30 p.m. 3 p.m.
9.30 p.m. 4.30 p.m.
10 p.m. 5 p.m.
11 p.m. 6 p.m.
11.30 p.m. 6.30 p.m.
(2) Whenever the House sits on a Friday, Standing Orders Nos. 1 and 14 shall, notwithstanding anything in Standing Order No. 2 or paragraph (10) of Standing Order No. 14, apply as if the House were sitting on a Tuesday, but with the substitution, for any reference to a time mentioned in the first column of the following Table, of a reference to the time respectively mentioned in the second column of that Table:
Time mentioned in Standing Orders Time to be substituted. (Fridays).
2.45 p.m. 11 a.m.
10 p.m. 4 p.m.
11 p.m. 5 p.m.
11.30 p.m. 5.30 p.m.
(3) On any day on which the House sits, Standing Order No. 25 shall have effect as if, for the reference to a Quarter past Eight and a Quarter past Nine of the Clock, there were substituted references to a Quarter past One and a Quarter past Two of the Clock. I have by our Rules to move to alter the hours of Sittings. This has to be done at the beginning of every Session, as the House knows. We propose to continue the arrangements which have been in operation recently and which were agreed to by the House after a full discussion. Therefore, that means that we consider it desirable to continue to meet at 11 a.m. and to rise at 6 or 6.30 p.m. until Christmas, except Friday, and for a period when we meet again in the New Year. How long that period in the New Year is must depend upon circumstances, about which I can perhaps say a word. As the House will be aware from what my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said earlier, there is a heavy legislative programme and that programme will very probably involve setting up Standing Committees in the New Year. I cannot say exactly when; it depends on the progress we make with the Second Readings, but we anticipate that may happen. If so, it is our view that that will entail an alteration in our present arrangement in regard to our hours of Sittings. The House might be in favour of meeting at 2 p.m. and adjourning at nine or half-past nine, I do not know. That will have to be considered. The point I have to make is that, if we have to set up Standing Committees, I anticipate the Government will wish to suggest a change in our present hours of Sitting. We shall keep it under review and come again with our proposals to the House in due course after the Christmas Adjournment, and all I am saying now is that we intend to carry on until then. The Motion is not limited in operation to any specific date and we will consult the House again later on. I move the Motion without prejudice to the decision to which the House may come at a later date, if and when Standing Committees have to be set up.

5.21 p.m.

Earl Winterton (Horsham and Worthing)

I have to be rather careful not to make any breach of Order, or to say if and when I have held the views expressed by my right hon. Friend in the course of his observations. The House will be aware that we have discussed these matters in Secret Session, but I am entitled to say on behalf of a number of hon. Friends of mine interested in this matter, that we are very glad to hear the Government have promised, if and when they set up Standing Committees, that the present hours will be altered, and I understand the House will be given an opportunity of considering whether the new hours shall be from 2 o'clock in the afternoon or some other time. We regard it as a principle that when Standing Committees are in operation in this House, it would be impossible for the House to sit, as general rule, during the hours in which it now sits. It is very important that that principle should be established, otherwise we consider that the interests of debate and attendance at the House would be greatly injured. Therefore we are very glad to hear the announcement made by the Leader of the House and the promise that we shall have an opportunity of discussing the actual hours when the time comes.

Question put, and agreed to.