Business of the House.

– in the House of Commons on 19th February 1942.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence , Edinburgh East

May I ask the Lord Privy Seal whether he has any statement to make on the reason for the proposal to suspend the Rule to-day, and upon the future Business of the House?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

The suspension of the Rule is a purely precautionary measure. Mr. Speaker is being moved out of the Chair to obtain Votes A and 1 of the Army Estimates and the Army Supplementary Estimate.

The forthcoming Business will be as follows:

First Sitting Day—A Debate on the War Situation, with special reference to the Far East, will take place on a Motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Second Sitting Day—The Debate will be concluded.

Third Sitting Day—We propose to move Mr. Speaker out of the Chair on going into Committee of Supply on the Navy Estimates, 1942, and to consider Votes A, 1 and Navy Supplementary Estimate in Committee.

Photo of Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence , Edinburgh East

No doubt the Lord Privy Seal realises that there is very great interest in the Debate proposed for the first and second Sitting Days. Many hon. Members think that the Government, with the permission of the House, might suspend the Rule on both the first two days.

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

I think we shall certainly suspend the Rule on the first Sitting Day. On the second Sitting Day it will be prolonged, in accordance with the course we have adopted according to the time of the year. We might well consider during the course of the Debate whether the Rule should be suspended. The Government desire to give every possible scope to the Debate.

Photo of Mr John Wardlaw-Milne Mr John Wardlaw-Milne , Kidderminster

Would the Government consider that it may be the desire of the House to have a three days' Debate? I appreciate the importance of the other Government Business, but it will be within the recollection of the House that, on the last occasion when we discussed the situation in the Far East and other events of the war, a great many Members did not have an opportunity' of speaking. I realise that the time may be extended for the second day, but I still think the Government may find it the desire of the House that there should be a three-day Debate, and I hope that my right hon. Friend will say that this is the desire of the House and that the Government will give it consideration.

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

I will convey to the Prime Minister what the hon. Member has said.

Photo of Mr Arthur Woodburn Mr Arthur Woodburn , Clackmannan and Eastern

May I suggest that it might be for the convenience of the House that, if the first two days are restricted to the Far Eastern situation—[HON. MEMBERS: "They are not."]—That was suggested—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—that the naval side of the war should be discussed on the third Sitting Day?

Photo of Major-General Sir Alfred Knox Major-General Sir Alfred Knox , Wycombe

Will the Lord Privy Seal take into consideration the fact that none of these Debates on the war situation takes place without giving very valuable information to the enemy?

Photo of Mr Austin Hopkinson Mr Austin Hopkinson , Mossley

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider that the procedure he has suggested is one by which the Government may make a speech for the defence in secret and then the jury, having been brought in, hears the other side of the case? It seems to me that the nation is not in a position to judge unless it hears both sides of the case all round.

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister suggested that it might be necessary to ask the House to go into Secret Session during the course of the Debate, and also that the Debate on the second day should be in open Session. I will convey the point to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, because obviously what the House desires is to receive the greatest possible amount of information without, as my hon. and gallant Friend says, giving away something which will be of advantage to the enemy. It is therefore a matter which is to be weighed very carefully by the Government. I quite agree that the public have a right to know the other side, and what the Government desire to do is to give the people of this country, and this House, the fullest possible information on which to form their judgment.

Photo of Sir Godfrey Nicholson Sir Godfrey Nicholson , Farnham

Will my right hon. Friend consider the desirability of a record being taken of speeches made in Secret Session, not for circulation to Members, but in order that they may be on record and that the Government may study them at leisure?

Photo of Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha Mr Leslie Hore-Belisha , Plymouth, Devonport

May I ask my right hon. Friend what arrangements will be made for the discussion of the Beveridge Committee's Report? It raises many important issues which are not completely covered by the Army Estimates, which are to be discussed to-day; other Departments are concerned.

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

We will consider that, but the right hon. Member will agree that the Debate which is to take place next week must necessarily have precedence. But I understand the matter can be raised on the Estimates to-day.

Photo of Mr Frederick Bellenger Mr Frederick Bellenger , Bassetlaw

Has the right hon. Gentleman considered that although the Beveridge Committee's Report does touch on Army matters, it also deals with two other Services as well, and raises highly controversial issues? Would it not be better, in view of the wide scope of the Army Debate to-day, to have a special day's Debate for that particular subject?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

I have indicated that we will give full consideration to that point, but I was pointing out that it can be raised to-day on the Army Estimates. I do not say that all the issues can be raised, but part of them can.

Photo of Sir Frank Sanderson Sir Frank Sanderson , Ealing

Does my right hon. Friend consider that the democracies can ever win the war if we spend so much Parliamentary time in discussing it?

Viscountess Astor:

Nor by speeches.

Photo of Sir Stanley Reed Sir Stanley Reed , Aylesbury

Will the right hon. Gentleman take into consideration that, during the last war Debate, in which the House expressed such a passionate interest, there were very often not a score of people in the House for considerable periods of time?

Photo of Mr Richard Acland Mr Richard Acland , Barnstaple

Will the right hon. Gentleman give instructions through the usual channels in case the House should wish to go into Public Session at some stage on the first Sitting Day rather than wait until the second Sitting Day?