HC Deb 01 April 1890 vol 343 cc400-1

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether all or any of the Government Offices in London are connected with the telephone erected for the use of Members within the House of Commons; and, if not, whether, considering the great convenience it would be to Members for making inquiries and appointments, he will have connections established?


Although telephonic communication with the Government Offices might be of some convenience to Members, I am afraid I cannot say the same with respect to Ministers. To them it would be very inconvenient. Suppose, for example, a Member wished to communicate with the Treasury upon some matter of business. There would probably be involved a communication from the Treasury to myself, and I would in all probability be in the House. Inasmuch, therefore, as the convenience would only be available to Members during the sitting of the House, and all the Government Offices are represented in the House, it would be more convenient that a communication, if urgent, should be made direct to the Member of the Government responsible for the Office with which communication is desired. All communications on Government business made to a Government Department should be subject to the authority and supervision of the head of that Department.

In reply to a further question by Mr. P. O'BRIEN,


said: My own personal view is that a clerk communicating upon Government business with a Government Department should only be subject to the supervision and authority of the head of that Department. No information would be obtained through the telephone in the absence of the head of the Department.


Might it not be absolutely beneficial to the Minister himself——


Order, order ! The hon. Member cannot argue the matter now.


I will raise the question on a future occasion.