HC Deb 26 October 1944 vol 404 cc354-8
Mr. Arthur Greenwood

May I ask the Prime Minister if he will state the Business of the House for next week?

The Prime Minister (Mr. Churchill)

Yes. Sir, the Business of the House for next week will be as follows:

On Tuesday, 31st.October, I will myself move the Second Reading of the Prolongation of Parliament Bill, after which the Committee and, if possible, the remaining stages of the Matrimonial Causes Bill [Lords] will be taken.

On Wednesday, 1st November, there will be a Debate on Shipping, which will take place on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House.

On Thursday and Friday, 2nd and 3rd November, there will be a Debate on the Social Insurance White Paper, which will arise on the Government Motion which is already on the Order Paper.

[That this House welcomes the intention of His Majesty's Government, declared in the White Paper presented to Parliament, to establish an enlarged and unified scheme of social insurance and a system of family allowances.]

Mr. Greenwood

May I assume that the Debate on Thursday and Friday will be on Part I of the White Paper, and not Part II?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir.

Sir P. Harris

As the right hon. Gentleman, instead of the Home Secretary, is to move the Second Reading of the Prolongation of Parliament Bill, is there any special significance in the statement which he proposes to make?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir, but naturally, in moving a Bill of such vital consequence to our lives, I should feel it my duty to make a few introductory remarks which may be of general interest.

Sir H. Williams

Is it intended to proceed this Session with the two Bills which were presented to-day?

The Prime Minister

No, Sir, we do not expect to pass those Bills this Session.

Mr. Bellenger

Does the Prime Minister anticipate that we shall be given an opportunity of discussing the Government's demobilisation plans, only part of which have been issued, namely, that relating to the Forces? The other part relating to civil industry has not yet appeared. Can we have a Debate this Session?

The Prime Minister

We hope the matter may be discussed a little later in the present Session.

Mr. Quintin Hogg

There is a Motion in my name, and the names of about 250 other Members of the House, relating to the period of overseas service in the Army. In view of the widespread interest in the House and elsewhere in this matter, would my right hon. Friend give us an opportunity of discussing it at greater length than we have had an opportunity to discuss it in the past?

[That this House urges His Majesty's Government to take the necessary measures to reduce the period of Overseas Service in the Army to three years at the earliest possible moment.]

The Prime Minister

I was very sorry to see that Motion on the Order Paper, because I think it might do definite harm to the war effort at the present time. I was a little surprised that my hon. Friend did not take a little counsel with the responsible Ministers before committing himself to this. We are at the most grim moment in the war, and while everybody wishes, and would like, to achieve what is the purpose of this Motion, I am certainly not in a position to make releases on that scale from the Army at this moment, without running the risk of prolonging the war and causing our efforts to fail or be weakened just when they must be maintained right up to the climax. Therefore, I regret that false hopes should be raised in the minds of soldiers by the appearance of this Motion. I hope many of my hon. Friends will dissociate themselves from it.

Mr. Tinker

Would the Prime Minister give consideration to suspending the Rule on one of the days set aside for discussion of the White Paper on Social Insurance? Many Members want to take part. Perhaps Thursday's time could be extended?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir, I think that on the first day of the Debate some consideration should be given to that.

Mr. A. Bevan

Would the Prime Minister take it for granted that all the considerations mentioned by him in his unnecessary admonition to the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) were taken into account by the 250 Members who signed the Motion? We have on several occasions tried to get a discussion in the House of Commons on this matter, and the only way open to us was to put a Motion on the Order Paper and ask for such a discussion. Will he, therefore, take it for granted that in bringing this matter to the attention of the House, we considered the state of mind of the troops in India and Burma?

Colonel Greenwell

May we take it that next Wednesday's Debate on Shipping will include an opportunity to discuss British shipbuilding?

The Prime Minister

Yes, Sir, I am advised that it certainly would.

Sir Edward Grigg

Since the justice of the admonition given earlier by the Prime Minister has been called in question, may I assure him that many Members are in accord with him?

Mr. Hogg


Mr. Speaker

Does the hon. Member want to ask a question? We cannot have a Debate.

Mr. Hogg

I want to ask another question, Mr. Speaker. Without in any way desiring to comment upon my right hon. Friend's statement, may I ask if he realises that what was desired was not to raise false hopes, but to get a further statement from the Government which would satisfy the relatives of the men concerned, and the men themselves?

The Prime Minister

That object has, at least in part, been attained.

Mr. Buchanan

Could not the Prime Minister have made himself aware of the deep feeling that existed on this matter and, before he lectured the people who put their names to the Motion relating to overseas service, could he not have seen that all this would have been avoided by a little tact and decency on the part of some of his fellow Cabinet Ministers?

The Prime Minister

Everyone's desire would be to give effect to this but I am advised that it would be quite impossible to do so without causing injuries which we are all united in desiring to avoid.

Mr. Buchanan

This need never have arisen if Cabinet Ministers had handled the matter differently.

The Prime Minister

I should be very reluctant to associate myself with blame of particular Ministers whose conduct on the occasion in question I was not personally able to witness.

Dr. Haden Guest

Has the right hon. Gentleman given further consideration to the request for a short Debate to-morrow when he makes his statement, as hon. Members may wish to offer suggestions as well as to ask a few questions?

The Prime Minister

We hope there will not be a Debate which will spoil the Debate on house repairs in London, but the statement will be made on the Adjournment, and I am in the hands of the House and of Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Stephen

Is it intended to sit late to-night?

The Prime Minister

We must get the Town and Country Planning Bill to-night.