Business of the House.

– in the House of Commons on 6th October 1938.

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Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

Has the Prime Minister given consideration to the representation I made to him with regard to other business before this House was dismissed?

Photo of Mr Neville Chamberlain Mr Neville Chamberlain , Birmingham, Edgbaston

Yes, Sir. I presume that the right hon. Gentleman refers to what he said the other day when he protested against this House being adjourned to-day and not meeting again until the 1st of next month.

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

Certainly, I put certain points to the right hon. Gentleman. I said that no one knew much about this guarantee, as to how it was to operate, when it was to come into force, and exactly what our obligations were. I also asked with regard to the loan, and with regard to the expenditure during the crisis. I further asked about air-raid precautions and defence against aerial attack. I suggested to the Prime Minister that this House should not depart until we had discussed these matters, and I may add that to-day there is the question as to how affairs are going in Czechoslovakia at the present time.

Photo of Mr Neville Chamberlain Mr Neville Chamberlain , Birmingham, Edgbaston

I did consider all these points, and I came definitely to the conclusion that we could not usefully discuss them yet. In regard to the Guarantee, first, my right hon. Friend the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence has made a statement which, at any rate, clarifies the immediate position with regard to the Guarantee. With regard to the ultimate position of the Guarantee, which will not be reached, of course, until the guarantees of Germany and Italy have also been considered. Let me explain that that will have to be embodied in a clause or a treaty by the respective Governments giving the guarantees, and Czechoslovakia. As that clause has not been drafted, and as, indeed, there are several rather important considerations which have not yet been decided, I think we could not possibly usefully discuss the matter at this stage.

With regard to the loan, here again we are not in a position to say any more about the loan than what we have already said. What we said was that we thought it was essential to provide for the immediate needs in Czechoslovakia, and that we have done. As to what amount of help Czechoslovakia will want, for what purposes, under what conditions and how such money is to be distributed— all these things are matters which require further investigation. Having provided, as I say, for the immediate needs, we cannot possibly give the House any further information until these further inquiries and investigations have been made. As to Supplementary Estimates, there is no question of urgency. What Supplementary Estimates have to be presented can be so presented after the House meets on 1st November. Air-raid precautions, again, require a survey, as my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has already mentioned, and when the House meets we shall be in a very much better position to tell what conclusions we have been able to draw from our experiences during the recent emergency and what further steps we may think it necessary to ask the country to take.

Photo of Sir Archibald Sinclair Sir Archibald Sinclair , Caithness and Sutherland

I believe that it will be the opinion of the whole House, and certainly it is the opinion of my hon. Friends and myself, that Ministers who have been bearing this tremendous load and responsibility, and especially the Prime Minister, ought to be released for a period of, perhaps, rest and, certainly, reflection on the changing scene. It is particularly important in my opinion and in the opinion of my hon. Friends, that Ministers at the heads of Departments concerned with our relations with foreign Powers, and with the Dominions, and also with the fighting services, should have time to adjust themselves and the immediate policies of their Departments to the tremendous changes which have taken place so rapidly in Europe and those which are still going on.

Photo of Mr Harold Macmillan Mr Harold Macmillan , Stockton-on-Tees

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. Are we not now—

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I was about to intervene. There is nothing before the House.

Photo of Sir Archibald Sinclair Sir Archibald Sinclair , Caithness and Sutherland

May I, on a point of Order, submit this to you?

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

The right hon. Member the Leader of the Liberal Party must realise that there is no question before the House. The question which the Leader of the Opposition asked was on business.

Photo of Sir Archibald Sinclair Sir Archibald Sinclair , Caithness and Sutherland

May I submit this to you? Are we to have the possibility of debating this question of Adjournment at all and the question of how long the Adjournment should be.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

That rests with the House. The Motion on the Paper is debatable.

Photo of Captain William Benn Captain William Benn , Manchester, Gorton

On the question of business, may I put a question to the Prime Minister? We all desire that this money should be given to Czechoslovakia, but the right hon. Gentleman must be aware that the present arrangement is entirely extra statutory. In fact, if the money has been granted by the Bank, I believe it is a breach of Section 30 of the Charter Statute. Could not the Prime Minister give time to get some token approval by the House of Commons, otherwise this grant is no more than a personal responsibility of the Chancellor and is, however much we sympathise with it, a serious infringement of the financial control of this House?

Photo of Mr Morgan Jones Mr Morgan Jones , Caerphilly

Does the Government contemplate that it will be necessary to have a separate agreement between this country and Germany to give effect to the private arrangement between Herr Hitler and the Prime Minister that in future they will submit all questions of dispute to arbitration rather than to force?