§ 3.15 p.m.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
My Lords, I desire, with the permission of the House, to say that at 3.45 p.m. our proceedings this afternoon will be interrupted in order to enable my noble friend Lord Henderson to read a copy of a Statement to be made in another place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs at the conclusion of Questions. May I also say that it has been agreed through the usual channels that the Second Reading of the Supplies and Services (Defence Purposes) Bill, now on the Order Paper for tomorrow, April 12, shall be taken instead on April 17, and that the Second Reading of the Sea Fish Industry Bill, which is down on the Order Paper for the latter date, shall be postponed until Thursday, April 19.
§ LORD SHEPHERD
I think it has regard to certain events that have occurred. I cannot give the details.
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
It relates to matters arising in Korea, to General MacArthur's Command being given up, and matters related thereto.
Before we initiate something of that sort, I should like here and now to inquire whether it is intended that this important Statement which my noble friend is to make shall be debated this afternoon. I very much hope that it will not be. It is a matter which should be carefully considered first. In view of recent experience in your Lordships' House, I think that if we are to have discussions initiated by the Leader of the Opposition and the noble Earl who speaks for the Liberal Party, we ought to know in advance, and try to keep at any rate to some Rules of Order on these matters.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I really do not know what the noble Lord's complaint is. I have not asked for this Statement, nor has the noble Earl, Lord Perth; we heard of it only this afternoon. It is the Government who are making the 239 Statement, and on their own initiative. Therefore I do not think that the idea that we have asked for a Statement in order to initiate a debate without any previous warning to other noble Lords, has any substance whatever. Further, I would say to the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, that I entirely agree with him in saying that it would be most unsuitable for us to start on a debate without proper consideration of the Statement. At the same time, I hope that it will be possible for a debate to be initiated at an early date.
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
Perhaps I, being the one responsible for the intrusion, may say a word. I understand that it is the wish of noble Lords that when an important Statement is made in another place this House shall be furnished by the appropriate Minister, at approximately the same time, with a copy of the Statement. It was only in fulfilment of that general understanding which is due to the House that this arrangement was made. I entirely agree with the noble Marquess and my noble friend behind me that it would be a great pity to spoil our other proceedings by debates on these Statements, and I sincerely hope that there will be no attempt at a debate to-day, because we shall be awaiting a Statement from my noble friend the First Lord of the Admiralty on the debate which is now before us. This arrangement is due entirely to the fact that I know the House like to have these Statements.
THE EARL OF PERTH
I hope the Leader of the House will remember that it has been the custom, when an important. Statement is made, that the Leaders of the Opposition and of the Liberal Party are permitted to make a very short comment, if it is thought necessary. I hope that procedure will be followed.