Oral Answers to Questions — Service Estimates (Debate).

– in the House of Commons on 12th February 1942.

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Photo of Colonel Ralph Glyn Colonel Ralph Glyn , Abingdon

asked the Prime Minister whether it is intended to continue the practice, when Service Estimates come before the House, to enable a Debate on the three Services to take place, as well as the consideration of the Army, Navy and Air Force Estimates, separately?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

No, Sir. While these Debates were of great value in peace-time, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister considers that, in the altered circumstances caused by the war, the opportunities afforded to this House for discussion of general defence matters in the Debates on the war situation would render inappropriate the revival of this practice to-day.

Photo of Colonel Ralph Glyn Colonel Ralph Glyn , Abingdon

Will my right hon. Friend give consideration to the importance of this House having an opportunity of debating the question of co-operation between the three Services on an appropriate occasion, and the means to be used to bring about that desired result?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

My hon. Friend will realise that it is always possible to put down the Vote for the Minister of Defence and raise a Debate on that particular matter. Otherwise, it can be raised in general debates on the war situation.

Photo of Wing Commander Archibald James Wing Commander Archibald James , Wellingborough

Is it not unfortunate that, whereas before the war the House was able to have a Debate on defence as a whole when we had a Minister for the Co-ordination of Defence, we should not now have the same opportunity when the Prime Minister is Minister of Defence?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

As I have pointed out, there is an opportunity of having such a Debate on the appropriate Estimates, but in fact, the opportunity occurs very often in Debates on the general war situation.

Photo of Colonel Ralph Glyn Colonel Ralph Glyn , Abingdon

Will my right hon. Friend tell me how such a Debate can take place on the Votes, as there is no Ministry of Defence and no salary for the Minister of Defence?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

I am informed that the Debate could take place on the appropriate Vote of the Treasury Estimates.

Photo of Mr Somerset De Chair Mr Somerset De Chair , Norfolk South Western

Is my right hon. Friend aware that this matter is a very pressing one, and that hon. Members in all parties want the Government to give a lead on the subject? Would a Debate be possible at an early date?