HC Deb 26 February 1947 vol 433 cc2075-7
Mr. Bowles

Mr. Speaker, you did me the honour of appointing me the Chairman of Standing Committee E which is considering the Electricity Bill, and we sat once in Room No. 8. I am not going to refer to anything that happened at that Committee because that would be out of Order, and I am not making a report to the House. I want, however, to point out that the accommodation is completely inadequate, and I am sure that that view is shared by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the Committee. I doubt very much whether even some slight moving of the chairs would give that comfort that I am sure hon. Members feel that they should have when they are making their speeches. I was wondering if you, Mr. Speaker, would have any objection to us sitting in the mornings in this Chamber. We have no desire to exclude the public, and I do not see why the public should not listen to the proceedings from the other side of the Bar. I wonder whether you have given the matter your consideration, or will do so?

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot

I should like to reinforce the claim made by the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles), who is Chairman of the Committee. Those of us who are working in the Committee have found the conditions most congested. There is not even sitting room for all the Members actually in the Committee Room.

Mr. R. S. Hudson

May I be allowed to support the hon. Member for Nuneaton:(Mr. Bowles)?

Mr. Speaker

I only heard of this last night, and I instructed the Serjeant at Arms to look into the matter this morning, and I propose to continue to look into it to see if any other arrangement can be made. Quite frankly, it would be rather a novel innovation to use this Chamber for the purpose of Standing Committees, and it might be rather difficult to clear it before we came here in the afternoon, while the atmosphere might not be all it should be when people have been sitting here all the morning. I would rather find some alternative to this Chamber. If the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles) chooses to put down a Question for next week I may be able to answer him, and perhaps in the meantime I will let him know of any arrangements I can make which I hope will be satisfactory.

Mr. Bowles

While I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for considering this matter, I might add that so great was the crowd that even the HANSARD reporter, who was replacing the reporter just finishing his turn, had such difficulty in getting to her place that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Southport (Mr. R. S. Hudson) had to move back out of his seat tc let her pass.

Mr. Gallacher

Is it not possible to heat up and use the most commodious hall in the whole building—Westminster Hall?

Mr. Speaker

I think I must refer the answer to that question to the Minister of Fuel and Power.

Mr. Eden

Is this not further evidence of the point which I have urged on the acting Leader of the House many times that major Bills ought to he taken on the Floor of the House?

Mr. Arthur Greenwood

I must repeat the answer that I have made before, that there is not the time to take all these large Bills on the Floor of the House. The King's Speech is the Session's work and the Session's work is going to be completed. If, in order to complete it, we have to increase the number of Standing Committees, that must be done to fulfil our pledges.

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot

Does not the right hon. Gentleman think that new considerations have arisen since the programme was issued, especially in the case of the Electricity Bill, and that a more urgent problem is before the Minister of Fuel and Power than the consideration of some abstract Bill?

Mr. Rankin

If any consideration is to be given to a reallocation of Committee rooms involving the use of this Chamber, would it not be more in keeping with the dignity of the Scottish Grand Committee that they should occupy this Chamber and other Committees should occupy Westminster Hall?

Colonel Ropner

There are now one or two, or perhaps three, Committee rooms off the Committee corridor which are used for other purposes than for Committees, and I suggest that consideration should be given to restoring the Committee rooms to their particular purpose.

Mr. Speaker

I will look into all these matters and I thank the hon. and gallant Member for his suggestion.

Mr. M. Lindsay

Is it not the inalienable right of the people of this country to visit this Chamber, and is not that privilege enjoyed by hundreds and thousands of people in the course of the year during the mornings when the House is not sitting, and would it not be the greatest possible pity if this Chamber was occupied for legislative purposes in the morning?

Mr. Speaker

That was also in my mind when I gave the answer.