May I ask the Leader of the House to state the Business for the next Sitting Days, and at the same time to explain the. purpose of suspending the Rule to-day?
The Business for the next series of Sitting Days will be as follows:First Sitting Day—We shall ask the House to agree to pass a special Consolidated Fund Bill for the Vote of Credit through all its stages. A Debate on Civil Aviation will take place on the Third Reading of the Bill. Second and Third Sitting Days—Committee stage of the Finance Bill. During these Sittings we hope to make further progress with the Railway Freight Rebates Bill [Lords] and the Telegraph Bill. To-day we would like the Report and Third Reading of the Hydro-Electric Development (Scotland) Bill. We also want to get the Second Reading of the Nurses (Scotland) Bill. For that reason we propose to move the suspension of the Rule, as a precautionary measure.
Yesterday there were a large number of Questions about the distribution of ration cards, about which there is some anxiety in the country. It is an urgent matter, and an hon. Member gave notice to raise it on the Adjournment. Getting the Adjournment, however, is a problem, either because of exempted Business, or because the Rule is suspended, or because some other Member has priority. As this matter is more urgent than the usual questions raised on the Adjournment, could the right hon. Gentleman arrange, if the Questions to the Minister of Food on the Second Sitting Day do not meet the position satisfactorily, giving an opportunity for the matter to be raised in Debate?
I heard the answers of my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food yesterday, and I thought he had gone a long way to allay the anxiety of some hon. Members. I think the best procedure would be, as my hon. Friend suggests, to see what happens on the Second Sitting Day and see whether the position between now and then is further clarified. If our hopes are disappointed, we can consider the position then.
With regard to the suspension of the Rule, the majority of Members are all for increasing the time of Debate, but I am wondering whether my right hon. Friend is aware of the fact that by suspending the Rule it often happens that the Privileges of Private Members are curtailed. In view of the fact that during the war those Privileges have been taken away to such an extent, would the right hon. Gentleman consider the possibility of allowing Adjournment Debates to come on whenever ordinary Business ends? After all, it is only halfan-hour, and it would be much appreciated by many Members who have been waiting for weeks to get in on the Adjournment.
The hon. and gallant Gentleman's suggestion is not compatible with the Standing Orders.
In view of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has made no mention of the Pensions Bill, can we take it that he has been responsive to the feeling of the House and is going to withdraw the Bill and bring in another Bill to raise old age pensions?
>: We all try to be responsive to the feeling of the House, but the hon. Gentleman and I do not always gauge it in the same way.
With regard to the discussion on civil aviation, is it intended to permit personalities to be discussed, in view of the fact that such discussion has a detrimental effect on the Government's securing the services of the type of man they so frequently require in the war effort?
Can my right hon. Friend say when the Settled Land Bill will be taken? Several hon. Members are interested in Amendments and would like to know.
Certainly not in the next series of Sittings. Perhaps my hon. Friend will repeat his question on the third Sitting Day.
When may we expect the promised statement by the Home Secretary about electoral arrangements?
I cannot say for certain, but I hope soon.
Will there be a substantial opportunity for debating the right hon. Gentleman's statement, and will the statement be published some time before such a Debate?
Let us see what the statement is and whether the hon. Gentleman himself still feels eloquent after it has been made.
If my right hon. Friend cannot reply to my question, will he state whether it is the Government's policy to discourage personalities being discussed in the House?
The hon. Gentleman is asking a question which concerns me and not the Leader of the House.