§ MR. COHEN (Islington, E.)
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, seeing that the Select Committee of this House on Municipal Trading, appointed on the 6th April, 1900, has not been re-appointed, and in view of the increase in municipal debt and rates occasioned by municipal trading and other causes, he will consent to the appointment of a Royal Commission to inquire into the question of municipal trading, 1130 and into the causes which have resulted in the increase in municipal debt and rates.
§ MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
I should like to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman accepts the statement twice made in the Question that what is called municipal trading raises the rates; and, if not, whether he approves of such a suggestion in the form of a Question.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Really, it is not my business to criticise Questions. I am their victim, and not their critic. Any Gentleman who has any views on that point should address the Chair. As regards the Question put on the Paper by my hon. friend, I have to say that it is, I think, to be regretted that the Joint Committee was not re-appointed, and I hope there will be a possibility of reappointing it at no distant date. His suggestion for a Royal Commission might be entertained in the absence of the other alternative, but I should not like to give any definite answer to that question without more consideration than I have been able to give to the subject.
§ MR. SPEAKER
As a rule, argumentative statements of that kind are not admitted in a Question. I have not had my attention called to this Question, or considered its form.