HC Deb 24 October 1944 vol 404 cc37-9
Mr. Arthur Greenwood

I would like to asked the Prime Minister a question about Business and, if I may be allowed, to welcome him back. With regard to the meetings in Moscow, when is it proposed that a statement, if any, should be made; and will the right hon. Gentleman also state the Business for Friday which was left undetermined last week?

The Prime Minister

The Business of the House on Friday will be as follows:

Further consideration of the Diplomatic Privileges (Extension) Bill [Lords], if not previously disposed of. Afterwards there will be an opportunity, on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House, for a Debate to take place on Housing Repairs in London and South-East England.

With regard to the first question which my right hon. Friend has asked me, I shall be quite ready to make a shortish statement to the House at the beginning of Business on Friday. It will not be of a controversial nature and, I trust, will not lead to a request for a Debate, because we had a Debate only a short time ago, and the King's Speech always lies ahead of us. But I shall be quite ready to make a statement, which in a way will be complementary to what I said the last time, and bring matters into it of which the House should be informed.

Mr. Greenwood

May I put this point to the right hon. Gentleman? I think the House would prefer a short statement on Friday without Debate, but there might be a statement made which hon. Members, on reflection, might think should give rise to a Debate. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not close his mind to that possibility.

The Prime Minister

It seems to me that I ought to close my mouth and not my mind.

Mr. Bellenger

What is the purpose of making a statement on the Prime Minister's visit to Moscow? Presumably it is not to tell us how well he enjoyed himself there, but to mention some matter of public interest and public importance that was dealt with there. If that be so, should not the House be given an opportunity of expressing their views?

The Prime Minister

I am very much in the hands of the House. If the general feeling is that I should not make a statement, I will not attempt to intrude myself.

Mr. McGovern

Why is the right hon. Gentleman postponing a short statement until Friday? May we take it that he has nothing to tell us of having achieved anything in Moscow?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir, I was considering how best I could impart the greatest amount of information without committing an indiscretion in any direction or trenching on controversial matters.

Sir Percy Harris

Is the Prime Minister aware that the vast majority of the House are most anxious to hear the result of his remarkable journey to Russia, and that we want to know as much as possible of his experiences?

Mr. A. Bevan

Do I understand that the right hon. Gentleman is proposing to make his statement on Friday in such a form that, if the House wishes to do so, it may be able to discuss it? It does not necessarily follow that the House will want to discuss it. It may agree with him that the statement is entirely non-controversial and purely informative. On the other hand, this being a controversial Chamber, they may not share his view, and will he therefore make it in a form so that the House can have a Debate if it wishes to do so?

The Prime Minister

I was not proposing to make a statement on the Adjournment, but to make it at the beginning of Business. Some question is often put on those occasions, but there is no Question before the House on which a Debate could be founded.

Mr. Shinwell

Will the right hon. Gentleman realise that there are some of us, in spite of the suggestions which have been made as to what he should do, and how he should curtail his observations, who are anxious that he should say exactly what he pleases about what took place in Moscow, and the more he says the better we shall like it? As to a Debate, that will depend on whether or not we like what the right hon. Gentleman says.