May I ask the Prime Minister to state the Business of the House for the next Series of Sittings?
The Business for the next Series of Sittings will be as follows:First Sitting Day—Motions to approve the continuance in force of Proclamations made under the Government of India Act and the Governors' Allowances and Privileges (Amendment) Order. A Debate will take place on the general situation in India. Second and Third Sitting Days—We shall continue and, we hope, complete the Committee stage of the Catering Wages Bill. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will open his Budget on the first Sitting Day after 11th April. I give this information now for the convenience of the House and to give notice of the Government's intention to ask the House to sit on an additional day. We shall propose that the House should meet at a later hour than usual on Budget Day and that no Oral Questions should be taken, but the right of hon. Members to submit Private Notice Questions to Mr. Speaker will not be affected. This arrangement was found to be generally convenient to the House on previous occasions and to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has special considerations to bear in mind on Budget Day.
May I ask the Prime Minister whether he can explain how it is that the Business of the House for the next Series of Sittings appears in one of the daily papers this morning, and is it not rather an affront to this House that this has been made available to the Press before it is made available to the House?
I have not seen anything of that.
It was in the "Telegraph."
May I ask whether there is likely to be a prolonged discussion on the first Order on the Paper for to-day—"War Damage (Amendment) Bill; Consideration of Lords Amendments"?
I understand that these Amendments to the War Damage (Amendment) Bill are purely of a drafting character.
Has the right hon. Gentleman seen on the Order Paper the Motion on Workmen's Compensation in the names of a large number of hon. Members representing industrial constituencies, and will he consider giving an early date to a discussion of this Motion?
[ That this House is of opinion that the scales of payment to injured workmen under the Workmen's Compensation Act, 1925, deny a reasonable standard of living to the injured workman and his dependants and delays his restoration to full industrial employment, and calls upon the Government to take steps to raise the rates provided for in the 1925 Act by 50 per cent., and to adjust the method of calculating pre-accident earnings so that the injured workmen may be compensated on an equitable basis]
This is a matter which will have to be arranged through the usual channels.
Is not the allotment of three days for the Committee stage on the Catering Wages Bill, which, after all, is a very minor Measure in these times, a somewhat lavish allowance of time; and is not the Prime Minister taking any steps to bring his followers more into conformity with the discipline of the House of Commons?
I think there is a certain amount of misunderstanding over this Measure. We all want to work together as much as possible while the war is going on, and I believe that full time for debate will give opportunities for smoothing out differences and divergencies, and, at any rate, it will allay that bitterness which might have arisen if it were thought that people had not an opportunity of stating their case.
Will the right hon. Gentleman find time very shortly for a Debate on the Motion on Sunday Stage Performances standing in the name of many hon. Members?
[ That this House would welcome a Defence Regulation putting Sunday stage performances during the war on the same basis as other forms of Sunday entertainment.]
The House apparently does not wish it, but I was about to say that I regret that in the present state of Business, I see no possibility of offering time for a Debate on this Motion. Should there at any time appear to be a sufficient desire for such a Debate it might be that His Majesty's Government would leave the decision on principle to the judgment of the House.
Is it not a fact that a large number of Members have put their names to this Motion, and will the right hon. Gentleman not be deterred by those who are more vocal than reasoning?
Reverting to the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) on workmen's compensation, is the Prime Minister aware that great human considerations of a most urgent kind affecting working people are behind this? While allaying feeling on the Catering Wages Bill, which may be correct, would not the right hon. Gentleman also consider the deep feeling on this issue and from that point of view consider the provision of an early day for discussion of this matter?
In these matters the Government are largely in the hands of the House. I have no doubt that there is deep feeling. If it is of sufficient volume, no doubt it will find its outlet through the usual channels.
Would the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to consider the possibility of suspending the Rule on one of the Sitting Days which have been allotted to the Catering Wages Bill?
Could the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether it would be possible to find time in the next series of Sittings to deal with the Prayer which stands on the Order Paper in the name of myself and my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Silverman)?
[ That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty praying that the Order in Council dated 16 th December, 1942, made under the Emergency Powers Defence Acts, 1939 and 1940, amending Regulations 6A, 45A, 56AB, 6OAC, 62 and 70 of and adding Regulations 47D, 60DAA and 104A to, the Defence ( General) Regulations, 1939, a copy of which was presented to this House on 19 th January, be annulled.]
A Prayer is exempted Business.
But I was asked through the usual channels to ask the right hon. Gentleman.
Arising out of the Catering Wages Bill, will my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister accept my assurance that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Chorley Division of Lancashire is incapable of creating heat and bitterness in Debate, as suggested by him?
I certainly did not intend to hurt my right hon. Friend's feelings by a chance Supplementary. I deprecate bitterness and heat; I think we ought to try and get rid of that. I hope that by a little fair debate and interchange of views this matter may achieve its essentials without leaving behind any bitterness.
In view of the fact that we were promised a whole day on the Air Estimates Debate for a discussion on civil aviation, and now that the White Paper on the relationship between the British Airways Corporation and the Royal Air Force Transport Command has been issued, will the right hon. Gentleman consider giving us an early day for a full discussion of this subject?
Yes, Sir, but it will have to be a little later.
On a point of Order, In view of the fact that there is a large number of questions that Members of the House wish to discuss, will the Prime Minister consider giving us an extra Sitting Day?
We have not reached the point where we shall have to consider sitting an additional day.