HC Deb 20 August 1945 vol 413 cc277-9

Proceedings on the Local Elections (Service Abroad) Bill exempted, at this day's Sitting, from the provisions of the Standing Order (Sittings of the House).—[The Prime Minister.]

Mr. Speaker

Perhaps I might announce now, that to-day, as I said, we shall debate foreign affairs and to-morrow will be-the last day of the Debate on the Address. Had the Ball which is on the Paper to-day not been introduced, we could have talked for a short time on the first Amendment on the Order Paper in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for Penrith (Lieut.-Colonel Dower)—

[But humbly regret that the Gracious Speech contains no assurance that all controls and restrictions except those essential for national reconstruction should, at the earliest possible opportunity, be removed in order to restore to individuals that freedom for which the war was waged.]

Now that the Bill to which I refer is on the Order Paper, the Amendment is out of Order, but the subject can equally well be debated during to-morrow, when, I understand, finance and industry generally will be the subjects which hon. Members will wish to raise.

Sir John Mellor

On a point of Order. May I have your guidance, Mr. Speaker, as to whether this would be the appropriate moment for me to ask the Government a question on Business, concerning the time allocated for the Debate on the Address?

Mr. Speaker

That was announced last Thursday, and it is now too late to raise that question.

Sir J. Mellor

With great respect, when one raises a matter as early as that, one is often told to wait and see how we progress. Having regard to the course which the Debate has taken, and the fact that a large number of hon. Members, including those who desire to make maiden speeches, wish to address the House, I should like to put it to the Government that, bearing in mind that during the whole of the last Parliament never less than six days and on one occasion eleven days were allocated to the Debate on the Address, surely we ought to have something more than the three and a half days now allocated.

Mr. Speaker

I do not think we can go into that question again. That was raised when the Business was announced. We knew then that there were only to be four days, and the question should have been raised then.

Sir J. Mellor

May I, then, ask if the Government will be prepared to suspend the Rule in order to allow a longer time for discussion to-day and to-morrow?

The Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)

We are already suspending the Rule to-day for other Business.

Sir J. Mellor

What about to-morrow?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Member had better wait until to-morrow.

Lieut.-Colonel Dower

You were good enough, Mr. Speaker, to say that an Amendment in the name of myself and other hon. Members would have been called but for a matter of Business. May I take it that as a considerable number of Members are interested in this Amendment, they will have some opportunity of putting forward their views?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. and gallant Member must not try to bind me in that way. It is a matter of which Member catches my eye, and I hope I shall be fair to all.

Mr. Churchill

It can readily be seen that giving a shorter time to the Debate on the Address will, on this occasion, be a general convenience. I should like however to know that this abridgement of time will not be considered a precedent governing future Addresses, which will certainly require to be debated at much greater length.

The Prime Minister

I shall not consider it a precedent, but my right hon. Friend is aware that the number of days allocated over a period of years has been very much in accordance with the state of Business, and the state of affairs generally.