The forthcoming Business will be as follows:
First Sitting Day—The Debate on the coal situation will be concluded.
Second Sitting Day—The Adjournment of the House will be moved in order to give an opportunity for a Debate upon the First Report from the Public Accounts Committee, dealing with contracts. At the end of the Debate we shall ask leave to withdraw the Motion for the Adjournment and take the Committee and remaining stages of the Prolongation of Parliament Bill and of the Local Elections Bill, if there is time.
Third Sitting Day-Second Reading of the India and Burma (Temporary and Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill.
I have given some consideration to this matter and can only say that as there have been two previous occasions when in similar circumstances a wider discussion was allowed than would have been strictly in Order, I propose therefore to allow a wide discussion in the Debate on the India Bill. I think, however, that the Minister in making his statement should connect as much as he can the proposals in the Bill with the history and the future government of India.
On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker, with regard to your Ruling about the discussion on the India and Burma Bill. Are we to take it that this slightly out of Order, almost in Order, Debate on this Bill about Indian administration and Burmese matters is to take the place of the Indian Debate which the Prime Minister promised the House, when there would be an opportunity for the House to cast a vote definitely for or against the new policy in India?
Is not the House to have an opportunity of debating the Motion in the name of the hon. Member for Abingdon (Sir R. Glyn), which will allow us to express a clear-cut view by a Division whether hon. Members approve of the Prime Minister's statement on India, or not? Is it not desirable that there should be a definite opportunity for the House to express its opinion?
The Bill which was introduced by the Secretary of State for India yesterday is an urgent Measure, which must he dealt with by the House within the course of the next few days, and it is not considered advisable, in view of the fact that there has already been one day's Debate on the Indian situation—[HON; MEMBERS: "No, it was on the Adjournment."] It was on the Adjournment, but it was on the Indian situation as well—to have a third Debate on the same subject matter. As Mr. Speaker has said, the Debate on the Bill will be a broad Debate, in which reference can be made to general matters with which hon. Members are concerned.
In view of the fact that the Prime Minister gave consent to certain hon. Members putting down a Motion supporting his statement on India, is it not desirable to proceed with it? Would it not be of interest to the House to know what the views of the right hon. and learned Gentleman are on the Prime Minister's statement?
Are we to understand that Government policy on India, which took such a sharp turn in the last few weeks, is not to be submitted to this House for approval? Are we to understand that the Prime Minister makes his own statement and his own policy and consults nobody at all?
Would it not be desirable for the House to have an opportunity to decide for or against the Motion put down by the hon. Member for Abingdon? It is a perfectly straight Motion. A great many of my hon. Friends would like to vote against it, and no doubt a number of hon. Gentlemen opposite wish to vote for it. Is the House afraid of showing whatever division of opinion there may be?
Would a reasoned Amendment to the Motion for the Second Reading of the Bill, protesting against the imprisonment of leaders of the Indian Congress Party and expressing regret that complete independence has not been granted to India, be regarded by you, Sir, as a competent Amendment to the Motion for the Second Reading of that Bill?
May I ask my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Privy Seal whether he saw a report in the Press about to-day's Debate which appeared to show that there has been an alteration in the procedure? The Debate was asked for by my hon. Friends on the Adjournment, and it was assumed that we should open it, but, according to a Press statement of last night, the Debate is to be opened by the Minister of Fuel and Power.
I understand that the arrangement which was contemplated was that the Minister should open the Debate with a record of his administration during the last few months and that then the House would have an opportunity of discussing it, in the light of the facts which he will have laid before us.
I should be very sorry if there had been any misunderstanding, but I think the usual channels were under the impression that there was an indication that it would be convenient to have the matter of coal debated, and as it had already been promised some time ago that the Minister should make a statement on the progress of events in his Department, it was thought that he should open the Debate by making a statement.
In view of what happened on a recent occasion, would it not be possible, after the Minister of Fuel and Power has opened the Debate, at a somewhat late hour which may impinge on the meal hour, for the House to suspend its Sittings for one hour after hearing his statement and then to resume the Debate?