HC Deb 01 May 1947 vol 436 cc2173-5
Mr. Churchill

May I ask the Leader of the House if he can make a statement on the Business for the coming week?

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

Yes, Sir.

Monday, 5th May.—Third Reading of the Transport Bill.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, 6th, 7th and 8th May.—Committee stage of the National Service Bill.

Friday, 9th May.—Conclusion of the Report stage and Third Reading of the Statistics of Trade Bill.

During the week we shall ask the House to take the Committee and Report stages of a new Financial Resolution which is required for the Town and Country Planning Bill.

Mr. Churchill

Under the Guillotine Motion of the House the Third Reading of the Transport Bill will be brought to an end at the comparatively early hour of 9.30 p.m. on Monday. As the right hon. Gentleman may be aware, the Committee stage was taken upstairs, thus excluding all but 50 Members of the House from taking any part in it, and large sections of the Bill—perhaps the right hon. Gentleman has kept himself informed on this point—were totally undiscussed. The Report stage also failed to deal with a great many of the provisions of this very far-reaching Measure. In view of this, will the right hon. Gentleman agree to prolong the Third Reading Debate until 11 p.m.? If the right hon. Gentleman should be good enough to agree to this, he must not suppose that that by any means satisfies our discontent.

Mr. Morrison

I am broadly familiar with the progress of this Bill through its various stages, and with the attitude which has been adopted by both sides of the House through those stages. This should be a happy day, it being the first time I have dealt with the Business of the House for some months, and I think I ought to try to be well behaved. I think the right hon. Gentleman's request for Monday is a reasonable one. It would rather curtail the Third Reading Debate if it came to an end at 9.30 p.m., and the Government are agreeable to meeting the right hon. Gentleman's request by suspending the Rule on Monday until 11 o'Clock.

Mr. Churchill

I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his additional contribution to the day's rejoicing, in giving us extra time for discussion of this important Measure on Monday night. I did not have any previous opportunity of welcoming the right hon. Gentleman back, though I gave him an informal wave across the Chamber. I should like, if I may, to say that we are all very glad to see that he has recovered from his serious illness. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear." We earnestly hope that the strain of his duties in the House will not be more than he can sustain—speaking in a physical and not in a political sense. Would the right hon. Gentleman let us know what are the Government's views about a Debate on foreign affairs, after the most important mission for which the Foreign Secretary went to Moscow? We understood from an answer to a Question yesterday that the right hon. Gentleman was not unwilling to make a statement at some convenient date. I do not suggest that next week's Business should be disturbed, but would consideration be given to setting aside two days thereafter, and could this matter be discussed through the usual channels? I may say, as far as the Opposition are concerned, we are quite willing to contribute one of our Supply Days towards the general discussion.

Mr. Morrison

I thank the right hon. Gentleman for his kindly personal references to myself, which I very much appreciate, as indeed I do the kindness that has been extended to me this week by hon. Members in all parts of the House. I am exceedingly grateful. With regard to any discussion on foreign affairs, it is not the case, of course, that every time my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary goes beyond, or returns from an area outside, the three-mile limit there should be a Parliamentary Debate. No doubt my right hon. Friend will—as, indeed, I understand he would wish to—report to the House in a statement. I understand the request of the right hon. Gentleman. I think the best way to deal with it will be to have it discussed through the usual channels, when we will seek to come to an amicable arrangement. However, I cannot commit myself as to the time or the period.

Mr. Rhys Davies

Will my right hon. Friend be good enough to give serious consideration to finding time for a Debate on that exceedingly important document the Report of the Gowers Committee on the closing hours of shops, which affects the whole of the population and about two million distributive workers?

Mr. Morrison

I will keep it in mind. I should have thought that perhaps some arrangement might be made for an Adjournment Debate at some time—although, of course, it involves legislation. It would be difficult to set aside a complete day for it, but we will see what we can do on an Adjournment.

Mr. Cocks

As this is to be a happy day, would the right hon. Gentleman consider postponing the Committee stage of the National Service Bill until after the Whitsun Recess?

Mr. Morrison

I am afraid we cannot do that. I should like to meet the wishes of my hon. Friend, but I think we had better face our troubles boldly and quickly.

Mrs. Wills

Has my right hon. Friend yet had time to consider the Motion on world federation, put down on 30th January:

[That in order to raise the standard of living of the peoples of the world and to maintain world peace, this House requests His Majesty's Government to, affirm Britain's readiness to federate with any other nations willing to do so on the basis of a federal constitution to be agreed by a representative constituent assembly.]

Could time be given for discussion of that Motion?

Mr. Morrison

To be quite frank, I have not had an opportunity of studying that Motion.