May I ask the Leader of the House if he has a statement to make about the course of our Business?
Yes, Sir. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will move the Motion relating to Defence of which notice has been given in the Order Paper made available this morning. The Debate will be continued tomorrow and brought to a conclusion on Thursday. In view of the urgent matters which brought about the recall of Parliament, we feel that it will be the desire of hon. Members in all parts of the House that there should be a general Debate on the whole situation lasting for three days.On the conclusion of the Debate on Thursday, we shall move for leave to bring in the Bill to amend the National Service Acts. The House is aware that for the general convenience a draft of this Bill has been published as a White Paper and we hope that it will be agreeable to the House to pass the Bill through all its stages on Friday, 15th September. The House will meet on Monday next, 18th September, and while the Bill is under consideration in another place a Debate will take place in this House, to be initiated by the Opposition, on a subject to be announced later. It is hoped that the Royal Assent will be given to the Measure during the course of Monday, and the House will adjourn on that day until the original date, namely, Tuesday, 17th October. It will, I am sure, be the wish of the House to pay tribute to the memory of the late Field Marshal Smuts. With your permission, Mr. Speaker, arrangements will be made accordingly at the beginning of Business tomorrow.
Is there any reason why the House could not sit on Saturday?
That has been considered, but I gather that it would be inconvenient to a number of hon. Members.
I am not sure that I am bound to give all the private business of hon. Members or their public business but there are—
Could the right hon. Gentleman tell me—
It really is not essential in the public interest that we should meet on Saturday and I think that on the whole it will meet the general convenience better if we come back on Monday. I am sure that hon. Members will not mind coming back on Monday.
The House must, of course, consider its own convenience and any points which arise. If, on reflection, the right hon. Gentleman thought Saturday convenient we should be perfectly prepared to agree to that instead of Monday if it was thought right.
I am much obliged. I will keep that in mind if anything unexpected should arise.
May I ask you, Mr. Speaker, why no Questions are allowed this week and whether, if the House sits on Monday of next week, Questions would be allowed on that day?
I think that Monday would be all right. If the hon. Member would look at the Ruling of last year and Standing Order 112, he will see that under our Standing Orders it is impossible for Questions to be put down this week, but as the House will be on other Business on Monday, Questions will then be in order.
I only thought it was an attempt on the part of the Government to undermine Private Members' rights.
May I ask the Leader of the House whether he would consider amending Standing Order 112, which is ambiguously phrased? I cannot argue that, Mr. Speaker, because you interpreted it last year, but it seems to me quite monstrous that on an occasion like this when we are entitled to ask Questions in advance, a Standing Order should deprive backbenchers of an opportunity of interrogating Ministers, as the existing Order does. The Order ought to be amended so that in future, when we have an emergency meeting, it will be possible for Members who have sent in Questions in advance to have the opportunity of getting answers to them.
That is a matter for the House and not for me.
I ask the Leader of the House whether he could kindly give an answer?
The hon. Member will not expect me to commit myself on the spur of the moment. There is, of course, good reason why Ministers should have adequate notice, but I see the point of the hon. Member's question. I will look into it, but it will be understood that I cannot be committed in any way.
Do I understand from the Leader of the House that it is his intention next Monday to propose a Motion, as was done on 29th September last year, giving the date to which Parliament should be adjourned?
I will look into that point. I am not sure whether the Motion fixing 17th October still operates or not, but if necessary I will certainly put down another Motion.