HC Deb 15 February 1945 vol 408 cc399-403
Mr. Arthur Greenwood

May I ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether he can state the Business for next week?

The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. Attlee)

The Business for next week will be as follows:

Tuesday, 20th February—Report and Third Reading of the Local Authorities Loans Bill; Committee and Third Reading of the Northern Ireland (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill and India (Estate Duty) Bill [Lords]. Afterwards, there will be an opportunity, on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House, for a Debate on teachers' salaries.

Wednesday, 21st February—Second Reading of the Water Bill and Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

Thursday, 22nd February—Second Reading of the Law Reform (Contributory Negligence) Bill [Lords]; Committee and remaining stages of the Road Transport Lighting (Cycles) Bill [Lords]. And, if there is time, Report and Third Reading of the Licensing Planning (Temporary Provisions) Bill.

Friday, 23rd February—Second Reading of the Ministry of Fuel and Power Bill and Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution; further progress with the Colonial Development and Welfare Bill, if not already disposed of; Motions to approve the Government of India (Family Pension Funds) (Amendment) Order and (Governor's Allowances and Privileges) (Amendment) Order.

Mr. Greenwood

If it becomes desirable to change the Business for next week, will notice be given at the earliest possible moment, for the convenience of Members?

Mr. Attlee

Yes, Sir, certainly. If there should be an occasion for a statement or a Debate, the earliest opportunity will be taken to give notice.

Mr. Erskine-Hill

Is the Deputy Prime Minister aware that the Ministry of Fuel and Power Bill, which is put down for Second Reading next week, was introduced only this week and, in view of the fact that, prima facie, it contains some wide issues, of which some might be controversial, will he delay the Second Reading of the Bill to a later time?

Mr. Attlee

I suggest to my hon. and learned Friend that this Bill is purely a machinery Bill—El-lox. MEMBERS: "No."] if hon. Members will look at it they will see that it is so—for continuing the Ministry of Fuel and Power. It does not deal with the transference of powers of any sort. The present war-time powers will lapse, of course, at the end of the war. I should have thought that the principle of bringing together, under one Ministry, these various functions which were formerly separated, was a fairly simple one, and that the Bill is uncomplicated, and I should have thought, therefore, a week was sufficient time for hon. Members to deal with its Second Reading.

Colonel Sir Arthur Evans

In view of the fact that the President of the United States has asked Congress to ratify the Bretton Woods Agreement and that the necessary Bills are being introduced in both Houses of Congress to-day, might I ask the Deputy Prime Minister when this House will have an opportunity of dealing with the matter?

Mr. Attlee

I was not under the impression that the procedure was quite so rapid as my hon. and gallant Friend has suggested; but, certainly, as I have said, the House will be given an opportunity.

Earl Winterton

In view of the conditional or contingent promise which the right hon. Gentleman gave in reply to the question whether we could have a Debate on the all-important matter of the economic condition of Western Europe—rather more important than some of the Bills which have been referred to—would he give very favourable consideration to providing that opportunity for Debate on an early day in the following week?

Mr. Attlee

As I informed my noble Friend, we will give a day. I will consult him and other hon. Members to see which is the most convenient time to take it, and how best we can do it.

Mr. Tinker

Has the Deputy Prime Minister now given consideration to the point of my question to him about war gratuities? He said he was going to make a statement on Business; can he now tell us something definite?

Mr. Attlee

I have said that I will certainly give it consideration. Then my hon. Friend asked me if it would be considered next week. I have stated the Business for next week, and that subject is not included. We will give consideration to an early date, but I cannot say that it will be next week.

Sir A. Southby

Reverting to the matter raised by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for North Edinburgh (Mr. Erskine-Hill), will the right hon. Gentleman reconsider taking the Ministry of Fuel and Power Bill on Friday, in view of the fact that it is impossible to suspend the Rule on that day? The Deputy Prime Minister appears to take the view that the Bill is a mere triviality, but it is a Bill which will have very far reaching results. Will he bear in mind that the Government are now turning out Bills like sausages out of a machine, and that it is utterly impossible for either Members of Parliament or the public to digest them?

Mr. Attlee

I do not agree with my hon. and gallant Friend in his general observation with regard to sausage machines, and so forth. If he will look at the Bill, I think he will see that there is ample time, before Friday of next week, to enable Members to deal with the general prin- ciples on the Second Reading of this Bill. There is, of course, a possibility of putting down Amendments which may be Committee points, but the general principle of the Bill is really a simple one.

Miss Rathbone

In view of the importance of the Family Allowances Bill, and as many controversial points are likely to arise on it, can the right hon. Gentleman give us some idea when the Second Reading is likely to be taken, and how soon after that the Committee stage will be?

Mr. Attlee

The hon. Lady will realise that, as my hon. and gallant Friend has said, it is necessary to give hon. Members ample time to study Bills, and this is a more complicated and difficult Bill. Therefore we do not intend to rush it on the House, before Members have had time to consider it.

Sir H, Williams

Having regard to the proceedings on the Lighting (Cycles) Bill last week, does not the right hon. Gentleman think it desirable that we should deal with the Committee stage of the Law Reform (Contributory Negligence) Bill before we further consider the Lighting (Cycles) Bill?

Mr. Attlee

I should doubt it. We can see how it goes. I should have thought that by the time we reached the Second Reading of that Bill, we should have managed to connect it with the points that arise on the Lighting (Cycles) Bill. I will endeavour to meet hon. Members as much as possible, but I do not think there should be any difficulty.

Mr. Higgs

Can the right hon. Gentleman inform the House when he expects to introduce the Bill dealing with the location of industry?

Mr. Attlee

Not at present. It will not he next week.

Mr. Gallacher

Can the right hon. Gentleman. tell us when the Education (Scotland) Bill will be brought forward, and when we shall get the Second Reading? We were promised it in a month, and the month has nearly passed, but there is no mention of a date for it yet. There is a very serious neglect of Scottish affairs.

Mr. Attlee

That Bill is fairly well advanced, and will be introduced pretty shortly.

Wing-Commander James

Reverting to the Ministry of Fuel and Power Bill, will the Deputy Prime Minister realise the difficulty in which the House is placed? We are faced with a demand for the Second Reading, at short notice, of a highly controversial Bill, and are told we can amend it in the Committee stage, but once a Bill is given a Second Reading it is very difficult for us to controvert—

Mr. Speaker

That would be a very good argument to put during a Second Reading Debate.

Mr. McNeil

In regard to the matter raised by the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher), may I ask my right hon. Friend to be more definite, as five weeks ago I was given an almost similar answer by the Leader of the House?

Mr. Attlee

I cannot be more definite. These Bills take time to draft. I cannot confine myself to a day or two; that is quite impossible.

Captain Duncan

Will the right hon. Gentleman give the House an assurance that the Committee stage of the Requisitioned Land and War Works Bill will be put off until local authorities have had time to study this Bill, with the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Amendments, which we hope to see on the Order Paper, and to give them time for the necessary consultations?

Mr. Attlee

I will endeavour to give adequate time, but, as I say, I cannot confine myself to a day or two.

Mr. Snadden

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether time will be given to discuss the Motion relating to the imposition of double summer time?

[That in the opinion of this House the imposition of double summer time is detrimental to vital food production and other national interests and it is therefore desirable that this measure should not be reimposed upon the country this summer.]