Business of the House

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 27th September 1944.

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Photo of Mr Herbert Williams Mr Herbert Williams , Croydon South 12:00 am, 27th September 1944

I should like to raise the question of the incident yesterday evening when the House was counted out at a time when Government Business had already proceeded for two hours and ten minutes longer than anticipated and when the black-out had already been running for 50 minutes. The count-out, I am certain from what has appeared in the Press, has caused great confusion in the mind of the public. They think that Members of Parliament have been idle. The Motion to suspend the Rule was not moved until 6 o'clock and a very large number of Members of Parliament had no idea whatever that it was proposed to extend the Sitting. Will the Leader of the House give an assurance that, when it is intended to make a Motion late in the Sitting, proper intimation will be given, so that Members will be aware of it?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

My hon. Friend is quite justified in what he says about not having been given previous notice of the continuation of the Sitting. It had been our hope, originally, that the Business would be finished by six o'clock. My hon. Friend will understand the difficulty in which the Government are placed when they have important Business to get through and there is a long list of subjects which the House is anxious to debate and which we want to fit in before the end of the Session. I agree however that we must be careful to give the maximum notice to the House of our intention. I am grateful for the opportunity of making plain that this was an exceptional occasion, and that the House had no long notice of what was contemplated. That may help to put right the erroneous impression given by the Press.

Photo of Sir Percy Harris Sir Percy Harris , Bethnal Green South West

About to-morrow's Business—for how long is it proposed, to suspend the Rule?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

I am not quite sure for how long the Prime Minister is going to speak. It may be that he will ask the House for the indulgence which was shown once before when a brief interval was allowed him but I think it is likely that he would be grateful if indulgence could be given to him. As regards the hours, I thought we would sit for an extra two hours tomorrow, to give the maximum time for Debate, and the normal time on Friday.

Photo of Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence Mr Frederick Pethick-Lawrence , Edinburgh East

I do not think the right hon. Gentleman's statement is quite clear. Assuming that we suspend the Sitting in accordance with what he says, does he mean that the House will sit for two hours longer, or that it will continue for two hours later, which will in fact mean that the House will sit for two hours less the period of the suspension of the Sitting?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

I do not know that I can follow the right hon. Gentleman in his mathematical elaborations but, if I simply say 8 o'clock, I think it will be clear.

Photo of Mr John McGovern Mr John McGovern , Glasgow Shettleston

Reverting to the previous question, whilst agreeing with the statements made, may I ask if it is not also true that it is the duty of the Government to keep a House for Government Business and that there are enough Parliamentary Private Secretaries to see that a House is kept?

Photo of Mr Anthony Eden Mr Anthony Eden , Warwick and Leamington

The hon. Member is entitled to any jubilation that he may feel, or any censorship that he wishes to express. This was a Scottish Bill. I regret what has happened because I think it will be misunderstood, but we will take what precautions we can to see that it does not happen again.

Photo of Mr Frederick Cocks Mr Frederick Cocks , Broxtowe

Is it not a fact that the Government have the advantage of having a Scotsman as Chief Whip?