The Government propose to move the Adjournment of the House to-day in order to have a Debate on the international situation, which is the cause of the earlier meeting of Parliament. My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary will open the Debate and give the House a full statement of Government policy. The Debate will be continued to-morrow and on Thursday. I shall make a further statement as to the future course of business later in the week. As regards the latter part of the right hon. Gentleman's question, I shall be taking part in the Debate later, when I will deal fully with this matter.
I do not think the right hon. Gentleman is quite fair to me in saying that I made an announcement to my constituents. The reason I made that announcement publicly that afternoon was that I felt that, having come to a decision as to the date, I ought to let the country know immediately, and I think the country has a very shrewd idea from its Press of the exact date.
I quite agree. That is why I said that the statement as to the precise date must be made from this Box. I propose to make it tomorrow. I may tell the right hon. Gentleman that I had intended to speak later, but I do not wish to delay the announcement any longer than I can help. I propose early in the Debate to-morrow to give the date and the reasons that have actuated me in making the recommendation.
The right hon. Gentleman will realise that the date of the election is vital to the consideration of the business of the House. We are told that we are to have a Debate on foreign affairs. We have also matters which we wish to raise, notably on the question of the unemployed and the question of unemployment. I am asking the right hon. Gentleman whether we shall have time for the discussion of these subjects before the House is prorogued. We intend to put down a Vote of Censure in order that this may be discussed before the House rises. It is clear that if the right hon. Gentleman's date, which is not disclosed yet, is to be at the end of this week, we are likely to be shut out of any consideration of these matters.
I much regret that at the moment I cannot say more. It is obvious that the Debate on foreign affairs will take the whole of the period, as I understand that a large number of Members in all parts of the House are anxious to speak. The right hon. Gentleman will be advised in ample time to-morrow for a discussion to take place as to what may be done after the time of the election is announced. That is what I meant when I said in the latter part of my reply, that I would make a further statement on business to-morrow.
Does the Prime Minister realise that if matters are left as they are the Debate to-day will be thrown into confusion? Is the Debate to be limited to foreign affairs, or will it range over matters of domestic interest? Will the Opposition be expected to confine their speeches to foreign affairs, or will they be justified in dealing with such matters as unemployment and other questions of much interest to hon. Members and their constituents? Hon. Members who speak to-day will apparently be excluded from dealing with any of these matters before the Dissolution. That is quite improper, and therefore it seems to me that if the Debate is to be confined to foreign affairs it is most necessary that the Prime Minister should say now that there will be another opportunity for hon. Members to deal with these other matters.
The Debate on foreign affairs was put down at the request of the Opposition. The right hon. Gentleman is aware, and most hon. Members are aware, that in a Debate on the Adjournment other subjects can be discussed under the direction of Mr. Speaker, but that is a matter entirely out of my hands. The Debate, however, was put down for a specific purpose at the request of the Opposition.
If we are to have three days for discussion, ought not the Opposition to be informed to-day what subsequent subjects can be discussed, apart from foreign affairs, so that in case the foreign affairs Debate should conclude to-morrow night there will be ample time to arrange for a Debate on Thursday on some other questions? Does not the Prime Minister see the difficulty in which he places the Opposition? The Opposition asked for a discussion on foreign affairs and invariably two days is as much as we can expect. Now we get three days. The right hon. Gentleman should give us some indication as to whether on Thursday an opportunity will be provided for an alternative Debate.
I am quite prepared to answer that question. I do not know how great may be the interest taken in the Debate, but I have no objection to debating any subject the House may desire to discuss. It is impossible at this moment to say more. I must watch the course of the Debate, but there will be plenty of time for negotiations to take place between the Opposition and the Government to decide the course of action we shall take. The House may be sure that I shall do my utmost for the general convenience of the House.
Will the Prime Minister bear in mind the fact that the question of the unemployed and unemployment is of the gravest importance to great areas of the country? Does he not think that this is a matter of first-class importance which really should receive consideration before the House rises?