§ Mr. C. BELLAIRS
I desire to ask your ruling, Sir, on a question of procedure in connection with questions to-day. The First Lord of the Admiralty, on a question which raised a very grave issue, said he would refuse to answer any further supplementary questions.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is in error in saying that. The right hon. Gentleman said that he would not reply to any further supplementary questions from the hon. Member for Andover.
§ Mr. BELLAIRS
My question equally applies. I submit that it is not within the discretion of a Minister to refuse to answer questions which he has never heard; that he can only refuse to answer questions on the ground that they are not in the public interest, and that whether a question shall or shall not be answered rests with you, Sir.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
If an hon. Member asks a question, and then, when he receives an answer, jeers at it, he cannot expect to be very courteously treated by the Minister. If he wishes to be courteously treated by the Minister he should equally treat the Minister with courtesy.
I feel I ought to say a word in consequence of the ruling from the Chair. The last thing I should wish to do would be to jeer at a Minister on any subject.
I did not mean to jeer at any Minister, and if it was thought I did so I unreservedly say that I am very 419 sorry. I am afraid that I displayed some sign of amusement, because I could not help being amused at the reply, but I certainly did not mean to jeer.