HC Deb 21 May 1946 vol 423 cc198-200
The Lord Privy Seal (Mr. Arthur Greenwood)

Arising out of questions on Business yesterday, conversations have taken place through the usual channels and we think there is a reasonable chance of concluding the Report stage of the National Insurance Bill by Thursday night. I would again express the hope that hon. Members in all parts of the House will cooperate to make this possible. On Friday a Debate on Egypt will take place in Committee of Supply.

Mr. Churchill

We will certainly cooperate as much as possible to finish the National Insurance Bill in these two days, but we cannot be quite certain. We hope the Government will take the view that, if it is found really necessary for the proper debating of this all-important and not essentially controversial Measure, we can have a little more time next week. I do not want the Debate on Egypt on Friday to be a cause for mutilating proper discussion of the National Insurance Bill. Rather than that, we will have the Debate on Egypt one day next week. I agree that, Friday having been fixed, it is better to stick to it. I hope a little ease may be allowed on the discussion on the National Insurance Bill if necessary.

Mr. Greenwood

I think I said twice yesterday that I understood the position of the right hon. Gentleman, and that it was impossible for him to give a firm undertaking. If it should be necessary, then we must make some other arrangement. I did ask yesterday for the cooperation of the House, and I hope that will be given, in order that the Debate on Egypt may take place as arranged on Friday.

Mr. Lipson

May I ask the acting Leader of the House for a further assurance that the Government will not attempt either to complete the Report stage of the National Insurance Bill within two days or to make a great deal of progress by asking the House to sit unduly late so that very important aspects of the Bill would have to be considered in the middle of the night, which is not conducive to good legislation?

Mr. Greenwood

I am one of those who, 20 years ago, never minded sitting late at night.. However, as 20 years have passed I take a more reasonable view about it. I can assure the House we will take into consideration the feelings of the House, the health and temper of the House, and the prospect of getting all the progress we can, and we will not keep the House unreasonably long if hon. Members will adopt the cooperative attitude which I have invited them to do.

Mr. K. Lindsay

Can I ask the acting Leader of the House whether the Debate on Friday is on Egypt or whether it is on Egypt in relation to the whole question of Dominion consultation? I understood that the acting Leader of the Opposition originally asked for a Debate on the whole question of Dominion consultation, and received considerable support from these benches for such a Debate. I gather the Debate on Friday is on Egypt alone.

Mr. Greenwood

Having regard to what the right hon. Gentleman asked us to do last week I would have thought he was concerned with the whole issue: (a) the question of evacuation, and (b) consultation with the Dominions. I have no desire whatever to try to limit the Debate, because I think it is fair to the House that it should be as wide as possible.

Mr. S. Silverman

Reverting to the question of Wednesday and Thursday, would my right hon. Friend bear in mind that those of us on this side of the House who intervened yesterday have in mind two anxieties? One is to get the Bill as quickly as possible, and the other is that this great and historic, even epoch making, Measure should not be dealt with on the Report stage in a slipshod or hasty fashion?

Mr. Greenwood

In a sense, Mr. Speaker, that is really a matter for you. We had prolonged discussion on the Committee stage of the Bill. We do not want to shirk any issues at all on the Report stage. In view of the present mood of the House, which I think is rather better than it was yesterday, I hope we can achieve the maximum results with the minimum of delay.

Mr. Eden

May I ask the acting Leader of the House if he has any statement to make on the two Government defeats in Standing Committee on the Civil Aviation Bill this morning, and what action he proposes to take in the matter?

Mr. Greenwood

I am sorry to see the right hon. Gentleman in such a frivolous mood—

Mr. Eden

Not at all.

Mr. Greenwood

I have not given the matter consideration up to the moment.

Sir Wavell Wakefield

Will the right hon. Gentleman give it consideration, because, as I understand it, there are to be considerable difficulties for him?

Mr. Speaker

I would remind the House that the Standing Committee has not yet reported. Therefore, the House has not been made aware officially that the right hon. Gentleman has to face these difficulties.