Business of the House

– in the House of Commons on 9th September 1942.

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Photo of Mr Arthur Greenwood Mr Arthur Greenwood , Wakefield

Can my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Privy Seal make any statement about the Prime Minister's promised statement on India, and about the Debate on Army allowances?

Photo of Sir Stafford Cripps Sir Stafford Cripps , Bristol East

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will not be in a position to make his promised statement on India to-day, but will make the statement on the next Sitting Day. We understand that hon. Members desire more time for the Debate on Service pay on the next Sitting Day, and, therefore, we propose to suspend the Rule. We hope, however, that there will be a general agreement to conclude the Debate within two hours of the ordinary time.

Photo of Mr Arthur Greenwood Mr Arthur Greenwood , Wakefield

I assume that the statement on India on the next Sitting Day will not be debated, and that there will be an opportunity, if the House so desires, to debate the Indian situation on the fourth Sitting Day?

Photo of Sir Stafford Cripps Sir Stafford Cripps , Bristol East

The Debate on the fourth Sitting Day will be on the Adjournment, and, as my right hon. Friend knows, any hon. Member who catches Mr. Speaker's eye can speak on any subject he chooses.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

By what right did the right hon. and learned Gentleman rebuke hon. Members yesterday? Is that in accordance with the traditions of the House? He is well aware of the practice of this House, particularly since we entered upon the new arrangements for meeting, by which Members go out to the dining room for meals and, although he may not be very much concerned about meals himself, other Members do not feel that way. Apart from that, is it his duty, as Leader of the House, to rebuke hon. Members for not attacking the Government, when so frequently right hon. Gentlemen on that bench attack hon. Members for daring to criticise them?

Photo of Sir Stafford Cripps Sir Stafford Cripps , Bristol East

The right by which I made the remarks that I made yesterday was the right which every Member of this House has of saying frankly what he believes. I do not withdraw any of the statements I made yesterday.

Photo of Mr Emanuel Shinwell Mr Emanuel Shinwell , Seaham

If the Leader of the House is entitled to say what he thinks on matters that do not come within his province—because he, as Leader of the House, is responsible for the conduct of Business to a large extent, apart from the Speaker's prerogative, which is understood— and if he goes outside his province, are we not entitled to object? If he says what he feels about Members, why should not Members say what they feel about the Government?

Photo of Sir Stafford Cripps Sir Stafford Cripps , Bristol East

I have no objection whatever to the hon. Member saying what he feels about the Government, or about me. He is well within his rights in doing it. The hon. Member says that I am concerned with the Business of the House. The Business of the House cannot be carried on if Members are not present.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

Who were the parties in the House who informed the Government that two days were necessary for this particular Debate? With reference to the caning which the right hon. and learned Gentleman gave the House yesterday, he seemed to suggest that it was a particular crime to go out when a person whom he described as the Leader of the Opposition was speaking. I want to know whether that designation has been attached to the right hon. Gentleman above the Gangway. If it is attached to the right hon. Gentleman, is there some special onus on the House to be present on such occasions?

Photo of Sir Stafford Cripps Sir Stafford Cripps , Bristol East

The answer to the last part of the Question is "No," but in order to carry on the Business of the House, it is necessary to have a quorum of 40 Members present, and yesterday there was a count in order to get an audience of 40 Members.

Photo of Mr James Maxton Mr James Maxton , Glasgow Bridgeton

Is not the onus upon the right hon. and learned Gentleman him- self and his friends to see that they are present?

Photo of Sir Stafford Cripps Sir Stafford Cripps , Bristol East

The onus, I should think, is upon the Members of the House.

Photo of Sir Stafford Cripps Sir Stafford Cripps , Bristol East

I take a different view from that of the hon. Gentleman. As far as the question of the Leader of the Opposition is concerned, I was no doubt wrong in using that as a technical phrase; I should have referred to the Leader of the Labour party.

Photo of Sir Charles MacAndrew Sir Charles MacAndrew , Bute and Northern

Will the Lord Privy Seal take into consideration whether, in view of the fact that we now sit at a different hour, it would not be worth considering having no count at meal times, as we did in ordinary times?

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

Assuming that the Government were correct in thinking that a large number of Members wished to raise points on the war, may it not very well be that they were satisfied with the statement made by the Prime Minister and that therefore they did not want to debate points which they would otherwise like to have debated; and why should they be censured for not carrying on the Debate?

Photo of Sir Stafford Cripps Sir Stafford Cripps , Bristol East

I made that point yesterday.

Photo of Sir William Davison Sir William Davison , Kensington South

Are not ill-informed criticisms of this House likely to have a bad effect on the country?

Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South

May I put a question which has not yet been answered by the Leader of the House, namely, at whose request was the two days' Debate fixed?

Photo of Sir Stafford Cripps Sir Stafford Cripps , Bristol East

The soundings were taken in the ordinary way.

Hon. Members:

Through whom?

Photo of Sir Stafford Cripps Sir Stafford Cripps , Bristol East

Through the usual channel, which is a perfectly well-known expression, and as a result of that, it was estimated that the House would want two days.

Photo of Mr Charles Williams Mr Charles Williams , Torquay

May I ask the right hon. and learned Gentleman whether he thinks that it is in keeping with the dignity of the House that he, as Leader, should fling this sort of accusation about?