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Business Of The House

Volume 393: debated on Wednesday 3 November 1943

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May I ask the Deputy Prime Minister to state the Business for the fourth Sitting Day?

On the fourth Sitting Day we propose to conclude the Committee stage of the Workmen's Compensation Bill and take the remaining stages, so that the Measure may be sent to another place for consideration. We shall also take the Committee and remaining stages of the Price Control (Regulation of Disposal of Stocks) Bill [Lords]. It is not proposed to proceed further with the Water Undertakings Bill [Lords] this Session.

May I ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the Motion on the Order Paper in which I seek to get the old age pensioners the opportunity of speaking at the Bar of the House; and whether he is prepared on behalf of the Government to say that time will be found for its discussion?

[ That Mr. H. W. Tyrrell and Mr. A. Gelder, of the Old Age Pensioners' Association, be heard at the Bar of this House, on Thursday, 4 th November, in order to urge their claim for an increase of pensions and a reduction in the age when such pension is granted.]

The practice of instituting Debates on the presentation of Petitions has, in modern times, fallen into desuetude, and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister does not recommend at the present time that it should be revived.

I do not know how far it has fallen into desuetude, but does the right hon. Gentleman think that it is right and proper that, when an important section of the citizens of this country ask to appear personally at the Bar of this House to plead their case, they should be treated in that off-hand manner, and will he get the Prime Minister to reconsider it with a view to having two representatives of the huge number of old age pensioners in this country who have presented their case decently and in order to have a further opportunity of stating their case?

The petition has been presented and of course will be considered, but I have given my hon. Friend the Prime Minister's view with regard to this matter of speaking at the Bar by petitioners. He has not, in the interests of Parliament, thought it advisable.

Is not this really a matter for the House of Commons? This is something which they have a right to insist upon. The answer was that it has fallen into desuetude. I would say the thing is done away with altogether. If the House of Commons think it should be done away with, then they ought to say so.

The right hon. Gentleman has just referred to the right of every citizen in the United Kingdom to appear at the Bar of the House. That was always the right of the individual.

May I ask the Deputy Prime Minister a question on Business for the next Sitting Day?

I have called Dr. Russell Thomas, and he has the ear of the House unless he chooses to give way.

May I ask a question on the Business for the next Sitting Day? There is a debate on India, and there is also a Vote of Credit of £1,000,000,000. May I take it that ample opportunity will be given for discussion on the Vote of Credit, because the last time a Vote of Credit was put down similar circumstances occurred and consequently there was practically no discussion on the Vote of Credit?

That is a matter which is in the hands of the House. When the matter comes before the House, it is a matter how far the House wishes to go on with it.

May I ask, further to the point with regard to the appearance of the deputation at the Bar, would the Deputy Prime Minister ask the Prime Minister, in view of the importance of this occasion, while not agreeing to all trivial affairs being brought here, that this urgent and important matter should be presented? Surely if two Houses of Representatives in America can hear the Prime Minister, then the Prime Minister can hear the old age pensioners and their views.

I am quite sure the Prime Minister will give these considerations due weight.

On a point of Order. May I ask your leave to move the Adjournment of the House to call attention to a matter of urgent public importance, namely, that the Government should provide an opportunity for the House to receive a deputation, representing over 4,000,000 petitioners, on behalf of the old people of this country, and that they may be heard at the Bar of this House in support of their Petition?

I am afraid I cannot give my assent to that. It must be perfectly obvious to everyone that an opportunity will be afforded the House before very long when all these matters can be discussed.

Might I ask you to consider, Sir, whether, in view of the fact that it is of the utmost importance that this question should be put before the House by the old age pensioners in order that the Government might have the opportunity of considering it, there will be new legislation in order to satisfy the demands of the old age pensioners? Is it not therefore a matter of urgency that their representatives should have this opportunity of putting the case for all those millions of people in this House?