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Business Of The House

Volume 440: debated on Thursday 24 July 1947

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The Business for next week will be as follows.

Monday, 28th July—Supply allotted day), Committee. Debate on Housing. Conclusion of the Companies Bill [Lords] if not already disposed of.

Tuesday, 29th July—Supply (17th allotted day), Committee. Debate on Colonial Affairs. Committee and remaining stages of the Acquisition of Land (Authorisation Procedure) (Scotland) Bill [Lords], and Local Government (Scotland) Bill [Lords].

Wednesday, 30th July supply (18th allotted day), Committee. Debate on the Army until about 7 p.m Afterwards, Debate on the allocation of the Grantham Factories. Consideration of proposed Government of India and Burma Orders Motion to approve the Electoral Registration Regulations, and consideration of Lords Amendments to the Fire Services Bill.

Thursday, 31st July—Supply (19th allotted day), Committee. Debate on Education. At 9.30 p.m., the Committee stage of all outstanding Votes will be put from the Chair. Second Reading of the Isle of Man (Customs) Bill

Friday, 1st August—Consideration of Lords Amendments to the Town and Country Planning Bill. Further consideration of Government of India and Burma Orders.

The Lords Amendments to the Fire Services Bill and to the Town and Country Planning Bill are expected to toe received from another place today.

I should inform the House that the Government will find it necessary to suspend the Rule on Friday next, in order to complete the Business announced for that sitting.

In view of the approaching Recess, it may be convenient for me to state 'that the Government hope that all necessary Business will be completed by Friday, 8th August, or at latest by Saturday, 9th August. I believe that the House would generally find it inconvenient to sit into the following week, and I trust that we may count upon the co-operation of hon. Members in all parts of the House in our endeavour to avoid this. I will make a further statement next week

Perhaps it would be for the convenience of the House if I remarked, so far as the Opposition are concerned., that in choosing a Debate on the Army for the first half of Wednesday, we had it in mind that the Debate should have special reference to recruiting, training an I organisation of the Regular Army, as we dealt with the Territorial Army last week. May I ask, first, about the Suspension of the Rule for next Friday in respect of the Town and Country Planning Bill, for how long the right hon. Gentleman intends t suspend the Rule, and secondly, as regards the date when it is proposed that we should cease our labours here, I presume that the House will then adjourn?

With regard to Friday, the motive for moving the Suspension of the Rule is in order that consideration of their Lordships' Amendments to the Town and Country Planning Bill may be completed on that day. There are a considerable number of Amendments, but the number of really controversial ones is, I think, rather limited. I should have thought that we should get through in reasonable time. With regard to the procedure at the end of the Sittings of this Session, it is the intention of the Government to complete all the Business of the Session before we rise. The point has arisen—a perfectly fair point—whether we should prorogue or adjourn. If the House were to prorogue, there are means whereby the House could be called back on the representations of Mr. Speaker and the Lord Chancellor, if that were necessary, but in the particular circumstances—and I am dealing with the particular circumstances —of this Recess, I think it right that the form of the break should be Adjournment rather than Prorogation.

I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. If I may say so, I think that that decision is in accordance with the temper of the nation and the state of affairs at the present time. The right hon. Gentleman made reference to co-operation in finishing the Business. I wish to make the position of my hon Friends clear. There will not be, as, of course, there never is from this side of the House, any form of obstruction. On the other hand, the right hon. Gentle- man will realise that some of the Business we shall be discussing has been examined only very perfunctorily under the system of the Guillotine imposed by the Government. In these circumstance, while we shall certainly not obstruct the conclusion of the programme the right hon. Gentleman has embarked upon, he will not expect an assurance from us that it will be done.

I find it difficult to follow this round-about statement. The right hon. Gentleman gives me the sincere assurance that there will be no obstruction, which is almost an assurance that there will be co-operation. As to the Guillotine, that affects only the Town and Country Planning Bill in the Business before the House next week. As for the rest of what the right hon. Gentleman said, I gather that he merely said it so that the Opposition, according to their mood and how they are feeling, may be free to do what they like.

That is all right, so long as the light hon. Gentleman understands that we shall be free to do what we like as well.

Before the House adjourns for a comparatively long Recess, do the Government intend to make any further statement on the economic position, especially with regard to the progress which has been made in Paris?

If anything concrete should arise regarding the Paris Conference, no doubt consideration would be given to making a statement, but I did not contemplate, subject to what may arise, that any further Government statement would be made.

On the Business for Thursday, is the right hon. Gentleman aware that there has not been one full day's debate on Education since the Government came into Office?

No doubt that protest against the selectivity of the Opposition will be taken note of in the responsible quarter.

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that the recent Coal Debate was cut short at 7 p.m. owing to a Parliamentary accident, and in view of the fact that this country faces disaster unless coal production is raised, will he try to give an opportunity to debate this vital matter before Parliament adjourns for the Recess?

I am bound to say that I do not see much prospect of that, in view of the programme. While I sympathise with the feelings of my hon. Friend, he will appreciate that the Motion for the Adjournment under Standing Order No. 8 is entirely outside the scope of the Government.

In view of the known desire of the Opposition to facilitate good relations with Members on the Government Benches, perhaps I may be allowed to say that it is our hope, in so far as it lies within our control, to assist the House by creating an opportunity for a review of the economic situation before we adjourn.

In regard to the second half of Wednesday's Business, will the right hon. Gentleman suspend the Rule, as I am given to understand there are so many Members who wish to speak, and the points which have been raised in the past need a full and adequate reply? Will he consider suspending the Rule so that those of us who wish to help and assist in that respect can have time to do so?

I follow the point made by the hon. Gentleman and I know about his position, but I am in the difficulty that there are three other Orders, and I am afraid that I cannot very well suspend the Rule.

Will the right hon. Gentleman tell the House whether it is the Government's intention, in view of the grave deterioration in the economic situation since the publication of the White Paper, to prepare during the Recess another White Paper bringing the whole lamentable position up to date?

If the hon. and gallant Gentleman thinks that is a useful kind of approach to the difficulties of the nation, he is entitled to think so. I do not.

Will the Lord President give sympathetic consideration, in due course, to finding time for discussion of the contents of the Hobhouse Committee Report in relation to national parks, about which there is very great public interest?

In view of the fact that three months ago the Government thought it wise to tell the nation of the disastrous state of affairs that threatened it, and in view of the fact that they have admitted that the situation has worsened, why should it be deplorable on my part to suggest that the nation should be told the truth?

If the hon. and gallant Gentleman would think a little more of the nation and a little less about party politics—

I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman is being quite fair. Has he not seen the report in the newspapers this morning, including a newspaper supporting the Government, that the T.U.C. have asked actually for this information? Surely, there is nothing very shocking in asking that a document which is now of historic interest be brought up to date?

If the right hon. Gentleman will consult the newspapers about the approaching statement of the T.U.C., and compare it with the observations of his hon. Friend, he will find a great difference.