HC Deb 11 March 1947 vol 434 cc1143-5
Mr. Eden

May I ask the Leader of the House if he will tell us about the Business of the House tonight, in view of the Motion on the Order Paper?

Mr. Arthur Greenwood

I propose that tonight, in continuance of the Economic Debate, we should sit for one hour after ten o'clock, as we did last night. We propose to move the Adjournment of the Debate about eleven o'clock, and afterwards we shall ask the House to agree to the revised Supplementary Estimate for the House of Commons, which relates to the late night transport scheme.

Mr. Swingler

Is the acting Leader of the House aware that in yesterday's Debate only eight back bench Members caught Mr. Speaker's eye, and will he consider, in view of the length of the speeches yesterday, giving more time, so that back benchers may have ample opportunity to take part in the Debate?

Mr. Greenwood

In Debates of this kind, there always have been, and I suppose there always will be, a large number of dissatisfied Members, who, Sir, have not caught your eye. On your own estimate as to the number of Members who would like to speak, even if we were to suspend all night, there would still be a number of dissatisfied Members. I should have thought myself that eleven o'clock was a convenient hour. In spite of the appeal made by Mr. Speaker yesterday, speeches were made of inordinate length, including those by Members of the Front Bench. We must not disguise that fact owing to the importance of the issue. I should have thought that less injustice would be done if we were to wind up this Debate at eleven o'clock, as I have already suggested.

Mr. James Callaghan

I am sure that my right hon. Friend will agree that it is a little unusual to have one Front Bench speech for every two back bench speeches. We had four speakers from the Front Benches yesterday. Is there any indication of how many Front Bench speakers we shall have during the next two days?

Mr. S. Silverman

May I ask my right hon. Friend to undertake that, in any arrangements he may make as to the conduct of this Debate, there are no disappointed Front Bench speakers?

Mr. Frank Byers

The acting Leader of the House said that there would be less injustice caused to Members if we closed at II o'clock tonight. May I ask him to reconsider his whole attitude to this problem? Is it not a fact that the Government want to hear from back benchers on these matters, and would it not have been far better to have given an extra week to this Debate?

Mr. Greenwood

I thought that I erred on the side of generosity when I agreed to a three days' Debate. However long we extend this Debate, even if we had three all night Sittings, it is perfectly clear that all the Members who desire to speak could not be called, and I am bound to say that the patience of the House would be exhausted. I should have thought that shorter speeches would have been better.

Mr. Bowles

With reference to the revised Supplementary Estimate in relation to Members travelling home late at night, for which the acting Leader of the House wants some money before 31st March, may I ask whether we shall have the transport before 31st March?

Mr. Greenwood

We cannot spend money in advance. As soon as we get the Consolidated Fund Bill through, before the end of March, arrangements will immediately be made for the provision of transport.

Mr. Henry Strauss

Will the right hon. Gentleman the acting Leader of the House reconsider his use of the word "generosity"? Does he really think that it is by the generosity of the Government that this House discusses the question of national survival?

Mr. Gallacher

Would the acting Leader of the House reconsider his position in regard to moving the Adjournment of the Debate at II o'clock tonight? Last Tuesday night we went to three o'clock in the morning on Polish resettlement. Is it not desirable that we should go to three in the morning on British resettlement?