HC Deb 21 November 1946 vol 430 cc1029-33
Mr. Churchill

May I ask whether the Leader of the House has any statement to make on the course of Business next week?

The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert Morrison)

Yes, Sir. The Business for next week will be as follows:

Monday, 25th November—Second Reading of the Agricultural Wages (Regulation) Bill, and Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

Tuesday, 26th November—Second Reading of the Exchange Control Bill and Commitee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

Wednesday, 27th November—Second Reading of the Road Traffic (Driving Licences) Bill; and Motion to approve the Potatoes (1946 Crop) (Charges) Order.

Thursday, 28th November—Second Reading of the Civic Restaurants Bill; and consideration of the draft India (Governor's Allowances and Privileges) Order and the Burma (Adaptation of Acts of Parliament) Order.

Friday, 29th November—Committee and remaining stages of the Ministry of Defence Bill; the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill; and the Unemployment and Family Allowances (Northern Ireland) Agreement Bill.

Mrs. Middleton

Will my right hon. Friend grant facilities for an early Debate upon the question of war damage compensation, in view of the fact that Members for blitzed towns desired to raise this matter during the Debate on the Address but were unsuccessful in their attempt; and, further, because of the fact that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, on 1st August, stated that he hoped to discuss the matter with the House during October? It is now nearly the end of November, and some of us are very anxious concerning the matter.

Mr. Morrison

I am surprised that the subject did not come up during the Debate on the King's Speech, which I found to be a very varied series of discussions. I cannot accept the principle that what was not reached during the Debate on the Address is something for which we have to find time. If there is any way, without special provision, by which my hon. Friend's ideas can be met, we shall see what we can do.

Mr. George Hicks

Is my right hon. Friend aware that, in view of the statement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, a number of hon. Members refrained from bringing this matter forward during the Debate on the Address? Will he, therefore, take an early opportunity of affording the House a discussion on this important matter?

Mr. Morrison

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer tells me that there will be a statement in due course. It is not ready yet. It may be that it will satisfy the House.

Mr. Molson

Will the Leader of the House give an undertaking that when the statement is made, there will be ample opportunity for Debate upon it, because the subject is one of the very greatest importance affecting very specially all the blitzed areas in the country?

Mr. Morrison

That is a quite unreasonable request. Had we not better see what the statement is? It may be that everybody will be happy when they have heard it.

Mr. Snadden

With regard to the Agricultural Wages Bill, can the right hon. Gentleman say whether a Scottish Minister will take part in that Debate?

Mr. Morrison

Yes, Sir, one of the Scottish Ministers will take part.

Mr. Callaghan

Will my right hon. Friend consider the prospects of a Debate upon demobilisation, in order to clear up many anxieties and misunderstandings which are communicated to us in our postbags?

Mr. Morrison

I should have thought that this matter might have been included in the miscellaneous Debate on the Address. I very much doubt whether a special Debate is useful and necessary at this moment. In any case, the Prime Minister said that he would be making a statement shortly in respect of the three Services. I think it would be better to wait until that statement is made.

Mr. C. S. Taylor

May I ask the Leader of the House whether it is intended that we should have a Debate in the near future on the Army, with special consideration of the statement made a few days ago by the Secretary of State for War upon the future of the Territorial Army?

Mr. Morrison

The Army Estimates will come up in due course. I think it is really a bit premature, when we have had nearly a week's Debate in which many matters were referred to for us to be pressed to find time for special Debates. There is a big legislative programme to go through, and it must go through. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]

Mr. Taylor

Will not the right hon. Gentleman agree that the statement on the Territorial Army was made only two days ago by the Secretary of State for War, and that it included some very important matters related to reorganisation?

Mr. Morrison

That is quite true, but the Army Estimated Debate is precisely the occasion for this kind of topic.

Mr. Oliver Stanley

The right hon. Gentleman will, of course, realise that these matters of Army organisation have a great bearing on the question of conscription which, we understand, is to form the subject of a Bill. Can he, at least, assure us that when the time comes, either before or after that time, we shall have the fullest opportunity for debating Army organisation?

Mr. Morrison

I should have thought, if the right hon. Gentleman is right in saying that this has a close relationship to conscription, that it might be in Order on the Second Reading of the Bill for National Service. I think the right hon. Gentleman has answered himself.

Mr. Shurmer

May I press my right hon. Friend to consider what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for South Cardiff (Mr. Callaghan)? We cannot burke the fact that there is complete dissatisfaction among wives and mothers of the men whom we have retained in the Forces, and that the time has come when we should debate that matter, and ask why they are being kept in for so long a time.

Mr. Morrison

My hon. Friend had better wait until the Prime Minister makes his statement before he assumes that everything is black.

Sir Ralph Glyn

; Is it not a fact that the Bill in question will be one for the Ministry of Health? Will it be in Order in that case to discuss the question of Army organisation?

Mr. Morrison

I cannot say. That is a matter for the Chair, and will be considered when the Bill comes before the House. No doubt Mr. Speaker will give consideration to the aspects of the matter that have been raised.

Mr. W. J. Brown

In view of the fact that the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill will not, this year, cover the Pensions (Increase) Act, 1944, may I ask the Leader of the House if he will indicate when a Measure to extend that Act, which expires fairly shortly, will be introduced?

Mr. Morrison

I understand that legislation is intended. Separate legislation will be brought in in respect of that matter.

Mr. Brown

When will that be?

Mr. Morrison

It will not be long.

Mrs. Ayrton Gould

Can the Leader of the House indicate when it may be possible to have a Debate on the report on equal pay for women?

Mr. Morrison

I do not feel in the mood for that at this moment.

Sir T. Moore

As the Leader of the House is no doubt aware, there is a Motion on the Order Paper signed by 150 hon. Members asking for the removal of the restrictions on the purchase of petrol.

[That in the opinion of this House the present system of motor fuel rations should be abolished, because it imposes a needless restriction on the proper use of motor-vehicles for business and private purposes, is a hindrance to the post-war recovery of trade and industry, encourages widespread dishonesty and illicit dealing in petrol coupons and is not justified by considerations of national economy or public necessity.]

In view of today's Questions, which showed how wide is the feeling of uncertainty in the minds of hon. Members in all parts of the House about the reasons why the Minister will not remove these restrictions, will the Leader of the House give an opportunity for debating this matter so that we may get at the truth?

Mr. Morrison

I do not see any prospects of being able to give time for that. I am sorry. If we can do anything in connection with the Adjournment Debates, I am sure the usual channels will be willing to do what they can.