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House of Commons Hansard
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Business Of The House
06 June 1946
Volume 423

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May I ask the Leader of the House if he will state the Business for the week after the Whitsun Recess?

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The Business for the week after the Whitsun Recess will be as follows:

Tuesday, 18th June․Supply (11th Allotted Day); Committee. Debate on Food Production.

Wednesday, 19th June, and Thursday, 20th June․Committee stage of the Finance Bill.

Friday, 21st June․Second Reading of the Burma Legislature Bill [Lords]; Committee and remaining stages of the Railways (Valuation for Rating) Bill; Second Reading of the Superannuation Bill; and, if there is time, Second Reading of the Diplomatic Privileges (Extension) Bill [Lords].

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When the right hon. Gentleman says Committee stage of the Finance Bill on the Wednesday and Thursday, I hope he does not mean that it is intended to complete it on those days, but merely to make a preliminary approach to it?

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I should be very glad if we could complete it. I was even optimistic enough to believe it possible, but I fully realise that we must see how far we go, and go as far as we can.

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Can the Lord President give us an assurance that the printing of a new Order of Questions up to the first fortnight in August does not mean that the House will sit until then?

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No, it does not follow. We hope that the House will continue to make such excellent progress with its work that it may not be necessary to sit as long as that, but that does not prejudge the issue.

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Is the right hon. Gentleman still considering the point I raised last week in regard to the request for a Debate on the White Paper about the call-up?

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I did suggest last week that, if it was to be debated, it would be convenient if it were done on a Supply day, because this is adminstrative action, but I am bound to say that that is primarily a matter for the Opposition, and no doubt they, as well as the Government, will be influenced by how far there is a general feeling in the House for the matter to be debated. I am not sure about it.

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On the question raised by the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies), in view of the well-known fact that the Conservative Party are much more keen on conscription than we are, why should it not be on a Supply day, which is in their province?

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I cannot give Supply days to the supporters of the Government, and I cannot readily give other days away. I am under the impression that there is no extensive alarm about the announcement which my right hon. Friend made as to the administrative action to be taken. After all, it is administrative action that he is taking within the existing law.

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If the right hon. Gentleman's supporters are so anxious to show that they are not keen on accepting the Government's proposals with regard to conscription, could not the Government provide them with an opportunity other than a Supply day?

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If the right hon. Gentleman will be so good as to leave my supporters and myself to argue it out between us, without his intervening, it would be better, but, if he wants to help the Government's supporters to criticise the Government, the course for him is open and clear. He could put it down for a Supply day.

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The right hon. Gentleman must 'be aware that there is strong feeling about this issue of conscription. [HON. MEMBERS:" No."] I am addressing the Government, not hon. Members on the other side. Will the right hon. Gentleman really consider this serious matter of debating conscription again?

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I will never refuse to consider anything again, but I must say that, on my own estimate, I did not gather that the feeling was sufficiently widespread to warrant that course.

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Could the Lord President indicate when the Debate, such as was promised, will take place on the Air agreement with Eire?

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I am afraid I have no idea. This, again, is a matter about which I do not think there is widespread alarm and despondency. [HON. MEMBERS: " Oh."] No, not widespread, but this, of course, would also be a matter which could be debated on a Supply day

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Would the right hon.Gentleman bear in mind the desirability of an early Debate on Colonial affairs, as it is some time since we had one?

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That would be acceptable to the Government It is another subject for a Supply day

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Can the right hon. Gentleman hold out any hope that the Government will be making an early statement on, or, alternatively, offering art opportunity for the House to discuss, the Report of the Anglo-American Committee on Palestine, and, particularly, its recommendations for urgent action? Does he realise that it is now, or will be by the time we meet again, nearly two months since the Report was issued, and that 100,000 people are waiting very anxiously for the Government's view?

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I am not in a position to make any statement on policy. That would be for the Minister concerned. We still do not think it would be wise, and I think this is the general feeling of the House, that we should seek to Debate it until the discussions in which we are engaged have reached some more definite stage.

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Would the right hon. Gentleman indicate to the House whether he is prepared to consider the possibility of a Debate on the increase in railway fares?

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This is what Supply days are for. They really are. It is not for the Government to choose them. It is for their critics. It is eminently in order on a Supply day, and I do not see why the Government ought to be asked, and I do-not think they can concede it, to give up special days for this purpose.

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Does the right hon. Gentleman seriously suggest that the Opposition should sacrifice Supply days in order to assist squabbles between the Government Front Bench and their supporters? As regards the question of the Eire Agreement, is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is a matter of great importance to all parts of the country which are affected by it, and that, therefore, we should be given an opportunity of discussing it?

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On the first point, it is not for me to decide the tactics of the Opposition. I am bound to say that, if I was in their place, and I thought there was a material possibility of a squabble or struggle between the Government and their supporters, I should put down a Motion for a Supply day quickly. But, coming to the other point, it is, again, administrative action taken by the Minister of Civil Aviation on the Air Agreement, and, therefore, it would be a proper matter to discuss on a Supply day, or on the Motion for the Adjournment on such a day as tomorrow, if there were time and Mr. Speaker were willing.

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On the question of the proposed Debate on Palestine, as the Arabs and Jews are to be consulted about the Anglo-American Committee's Report, does not the Leader of the House think it right that this House should be allowed to consider the matter before a final decision is taken?

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I had contemplated that, at some time, the House would wish to discuss the matter, and that that would not be an unreasonable request, but whether we should be at an advantage in discussing the matter before the Jews and Arabs discuss it, I am exceedingly doubtful.

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While everyone appreciates that it will be better to have a discussion in the House after the Government have made up their mind on what they are going to do about the unanimous recommendation of this Committee, does not my right hon. Friend realise that if it is going to take the Government a prolonged or indefinite time to make up their mind, that they must not expect the House to wait so long?

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I have not said anything about prolonging indefinitely; that is descriptive language imported into the discussion by my hon. Friend.

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The right hon. Gentleman will remember that we on this side of the House agreed with him that we should much prefer to postpone this Debate until the Government were in a position to say what line they propose to take. But we have now postponed it for something like six weeks and we hope, therefore, that the Government will shortly be able to make an announcement and enable us to have a Debate for which many people are anxiously waiting.

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Both the right hon. Gentleman and my hon. Friend have raised a-perfectly reasonable point, and there is no unwillingness on the part of the Government to meet it as soon as we can. But we must see how we go on. I would wish to meet the convenience of the House as soon as it is expedient and practicable to do so.