The Business for the next series of Sitting Days is as follows:
First Sitting Day—Supply (19th Allotted Day); Committee. The Estimates for the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Food will be considered. Navy, Army and Air Expenditure, 1940; Committee. Second Reading of the National Service (Foreign Countries) Bill.
Second Sitting Day—Committee and remaining stages of the National Service (Foreign Countries) Bill. Motions to approve the draft Supplementary Pensions (Amendment) and draft Unemployment Assistance (Amendment) Regulations.
Third Sitting Day—Supply (20th Allotted Day); Report. A Debate on Civil Defence with particular reference to A.R.P. expenditure will take place. Navy, Army and Air Expenditure, 1940, Report. Consideration of Lords Amendments to the War Damage (Amendment) Bill. Motion for an Address for the continuance in force of the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act.
At the hour appointed on the First and Third Sitting Days the Committee and Report stages, respectively, of all outstanding Supply Votes will be put from the Chair. During the week, as opportunity offers, progress will be made with any outstanding Business.
If all outstanding Business has been disposed of on the last Sitting Day of the subsequent series, we propose to adjourn for the Summer Recess. As the House is aware, provision already exists for the House to be re-called at short notice, if circumstances should require an earlier meeting.
I understand that the Report has only been available this morning, and, naturally, neither Members of the Government nor Members of the House generally have yet had an opportunity of looking at it. If its import is as serious as the hon. Member suggests, then I think there will have to be more time than he has indicated to consider it.
I understand that it has not yet been found possible to arrange for a Debate on this subject matter, but it is hoped that it will be possible to fix a day when we meet after the Adjournment.
Will my right hon. and learned Friend consider the suspension of the Rule on the First Sitting Day in order that there may be adequate time for the Second Reading of the National Service (Foreign Countries) Bill? Otherwise, it does not appear, from the announcement which he has made, that there will be much time for it.
The trouble about that is that the Guillotine must fall at the appointed hour, when outstanding Supply Votes will be put, and it would be very difficult, I think, to have any form of suspension of the Rule which would allow of an extension of time, but I am prepared to consider that question with the proper authorities and to see whether anything can be done.
Would the Government not consider extending the length of our Session before the Adjournment in order to deal with two things concerning which there will be great feeling in the country if we do not discuss them before we adjourn? One is the question of Army pay and allowances and the other is the question of relief to old age pensioners.
I have just said in reply to another hon. Member as regards the question of Service pay that it is not possible to arrange a Debate on that subject matter before the Adjournment, but that we are hoping to arrange one shortly after we meet again. As regards the question of pensions, there will, of course, be a Debate on that subject matter when the new Regulations are considered.
In view of the demand from all sides of the House and the demand in the country also that this question of the private soldier's pay should be reconsidered, would the right hon. and learned Gentleman not ask the Government to adjourn one day later than the proposed date, so that an additional day in this Session could be devoted to this matter, which is of transcendent importance?
The Government have very carefully considered this question, and they do not think that it would be appropriate to have a Debate upon it until after the Adjournment.
Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman and the Government give their attention to a matter of very great importance indeed, namely, whether it is possible for the House to adjourn for the period proposed while the country and the newspapers are agitated about the military intentions of the Government; and whether it would be possible to have if necessary a Private Session of the House in order to discuss this matter? Does the right hon. and learned Gentleman realise that demonstrations are going on all over the country, that the workpeople everywhere are agitated and that newspaper propaganda is going on day by day? Surely there must be some way of reassuring the public mind.
I think the hon. Member will be the first to realise that whatever operations the Government might have in mind, it would be impossible for them to announce those operations, either publicly or in Secret Session.
I think the hon. Member will appreciate that in a matter of such vital importance for the safety of those engaged, it would not be right of the Government even to entrust the secret to 615 people.
Could we not have an opportunity of considering the matter of Service pay at an earlier date? These people have to live during the winter, and when we come back we shall be very nearly in the winter. In Scotland we shall be in it. Can we not have a Debate before we adjourn?
I could, of course, easily repeat that we will consider it again, but I should only be misleading the hon. Member, because we have arrived at the decision that the matter cannot be debated before we adjourn, but I think it will be possible to do it immediately we return in September, and I hope that even in Scotland the winter will not then have fallen.