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.
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?
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?
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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?
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?