HC Deb 18 October 1944 vol 403 cc2387-90
Mr. Arthur Greenwood

May I ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he has any statement to make about the course of Business for the remainder of the week?

Mr. Attlee

The Government are most anxious to conclude the Town and Country Planning Bill this week, so that it may be sent to another place. We hope that this may prove possible, with the co-operation of hon. Members in all quarters of the House. We propose, however, to give additional time and to set apart Friday of this week for the consideration of the concluding stages of the Bill. We can postpone all the Business announced for Friday except the Committee stage of the Supplementary Vote of Credit for War Expenditure. In order that the whole of Friday's Sitting may be available for the Town and Country Planning Bill, I hope that the House will be agreeable to give us the Committee stage of the Vote of Credit formally, on the understanding that an opportunity will be given for debate on the Report stage. I hope that this arrangement will be acceptable to the House.

Mr. Greenwood

This raises three questions. How far is it proposed to go to-day, when will the Clauses reach the Committee for Second Reading; and what stage is it proposed to begin on Friday? I would enter this caveat, that, while I, personally, would do everything I could to help the House dispose of this Bill, and send it to another place, the Government must bear in mind the difficulties that there may be in finishing on Friday.

Mr. Attlee

The proposal is that we shall take only the Report stage to-day, and the Re-committal to-morrow. We hope that to-morrow and Friday we shall be able to dispose of the Clauses. That may sound too hopeful, but I know that hon. Members want to get on with this Bill, in view of its importance.

Mr. Greenwood

Does not my right hon. Friend think that the whole of today and to-morrow will have to be given to the Second Reading of the Clauses?

Mr. Attlee

It might be possible on the Second Reading to have a general Debate, which would clear up many matters. Of course, the House must have enough time to dispose of this important subject. I am only expressing the hope that we may get it. If not, we shall have to give more time.

Lieut.-Colonel Dower

These Clauses, which are very complicated indeed, have not yet come before us. How will it be possible to take them in Committee tomorrow?

Mr. Attlee

I explained that yesterday. We hope to circulate the other Clauses—which are being laid to-day—in the course of this afternoon. But those Clauses deal with separate matters from those dealt with in Clauses 45 and 46. I do not think that the House would be seriously hampered in beginning a discussion on the Clauses we have already got.

Sir Irving Albery

Will the Rule be suspended to-morrow and Friday?

Mr. Attlee

I should hope not on Friday, but it will be on Thursday.

Commander Galbraith

In view of the very great complexity of these matters and the fact that we have Clauses still to come before us, would the right hon. Gentleman not seriously consider putting off this discussion to next week?

Mr. Attlee

I should have thought that the general principle in these Clauses could be very well debated on Second Reading. The details are complex, but I really think that we could make progress; and I ask Members to try to make progress.

Sir John Mellor

Will the Deputy Prime Minister give an assurance that it is not proposed to go further than the Second Reading of the new Clauses tomorrow; because it is quite impossible for hon. Members, who will be in the Chamber the whole day, to draft Amendments and table them to-day, so that they can be on the Paper to-morrow?

Mr. Attlee

We shall have to see how we go. It is really a matter for the Chairman.

Mr. Bowles

Is it not clear that Conservative Members have made up their minds to table Amendments? It is running through all their questions.

Mr. Manningham-Buller

Will the right hon. Gentleman have regard to his statement of last Friday, that he would see that the House had proper time to conside these Amendments, which arc very technical and far-reaching?

Mr. Attlee

I have reiterated that the House should have adequate time. The fact that we are beginning on Thursday does not mean that we shall not have adequate time—in fact, a postponement might mean a curtailment of the time.

Major Lloyd

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that a number of humble backbenchers, like myself, feel resentful at being unduly rushed, to suit the convenience of the Government; and that that feeling may become manifest at a later stage?

Mr. Attlee

I think Members of the House thought it a good idea that we should discuss general principles on the Second Reading of the Clauses. I do not think it is an undue rushing to have such a Debate on the general principles, which were announced by me in the House some time ago. That is a different matter from the technical question of Amendments. I should have thought that the general principles could very well be discussed on the Second Reading.

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