I have to inform the House that it will be necessary for the Government to ask for an urgent Bill to be passed through all its stages on the First Sitting Day in the next series of Sittings before we proceed with other Business. I refer to the United States of America (Visiting Forces) Bill, which is expected to be received from another place during the course of to-day's Sitting. The Bill gives effect to an agreement recorded in Notes exchanged between His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom and the Government of the United States relating to jurisdiction over members of Military and Naval Forces of the United States of America. The agreement will in substance provide that criminal jurisdiction over American troops in this-country, including Northern Ireland, will be exercised by American military courts sitting here and not by our own criminal courts. There may be exceptions in cases where the American authorities ask our courts to deal with a case, and that is provided for in the Bill. Copies of the Bill are now available in the Vote Office for the convenience of Members. I feel sure that the House will realise the urgency for passing the Bill into law as early as possible.
On the Third Sitting Day, in addition to the Business already announced, we propose to ask the House to agree to Motions to approve the Clearing Office (Spain) Amendment Order and the Coal Charges (Amendment) Order.
Does the agreement with the United States refer to offences under military law committed by members of the United States Forces or to offences against the civil law?
The difficulty at the moment is that the evidence has not yet been printed or is not available. I do not think it would be wise to have any discussion until that evidence is available
Is it not undesirable that as soon as the evidence is printed this charge, whether right or wrong, should be hanging over an hon. Member of this House and the Ministry without a discussion? Could the Lord Privy Seal consider giving an undertaking that after the evidence is printed, possibly immediately we resume Business after the Recess, we should have a Debate? It is an important constitutional point.
It is clearly desirable it hon. Members wish it that there should be a Debate on this Report at an early stage, and the Government will take into consideration the desires of the House in the matter.
Colonel Arthur Evans:
In view of the many subjects that Members wish to raise on the Motion for the Adjournment, will the Government consider taking the first two Orders which the Lord Privy Seal mentioned at some other time in order to give Private Members the fullest opportunities? May I take this opportunity of saying that I am anxious to raise the question of visits of Congress Members of America to this country and of Members of Parliament to America?
May I ask a question about the Debate to-day? It is of some help to Members to know at what stage in the Debate the Minister will speak. With regard to the Adjournment Motion, it is well known that the opportunities of Private Members are not now so numerous as in normal times. On the last Adjournment Debate Government speakers intervened, and I would like to ask the Lord Privy Seal whether in the next Adjournment Debate he will see that no other business is taken except Questions, so that the day is left for Private Members?
In reply to the first question, it was anticipated or hoped that the Government speaker to-day, my right hon. Friend the Minister of Labour, would be able to speak after five or six hours' Debate. That will not necessarily terminate the Debate. As regards the second Question, the question as to who speaks is one for Mr. Speaker. As far as the Government are concerned, they are always anxious that the Adjournment should be used to give Private Members opportunities to raise the points they desire to raise.