HC Deb 28 September 1915 vol 74 cc804-5

Standing Order (Questions) No. 9:—

(5) If any Member does not distinguish his Question by an asterisk, or if he or any other Member deputed by him is not present to ask it, or if it is not reached by a quarter before four of the clock, the Minister to whom it is addressed shall cause an answer to be printed and circulated with the Votes, unless the Member has signified his desire to postpone the Question.

Mr. GULLAND (Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury)

I beg to move to leave out the words, "and circulated with the Votes," and to insert instead thereof the words "in the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Parliamentary Debates."

May I just say a word in favour of amending the Standing Order in the way here proposed. This proposal has been several times before the Publications Committee of this House, of which the hon. Member for Bury (Sir George Toulmin) is Chairman, and I think he himself has brought it forward several times. It is now repeated by the Retrenchment Committee, presided over by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The present practice of dealing with unstarred questions is to print and circulate the answer with the Votes, and also to print the answer in the OFFICIAL REPORT. This involves two separate printings. The type is different, and, in an ordinary Session, the Parliamentary Committee reckon that this process entails an unnecessary expense of about £1,000. If the House agree to this Amendment of Standing Orders, the non-oral answers will not in future be printed with the Votes, but only in the OFFICIAL REPORT. The matter has been debated in Committee of Supply, I believe, several times, and the only objection, if I am not mistaken, was that Members liked to have the printed answers in order to send them to their constituents, or to the correspondent at whose instance the question was put. As a matter of fact, the Department to which the question is addressed supplies a copy of the answer to the Member, who also will have it printed in the OFFICIAL REPORT. I hope that, under the special circumstances, the House will agree unanimously to this small measure of economy, which, so far as I can see, will harm no one.

Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and negatived.

Words, "in the OFFICIAL REPORT of the Parliamentary Debates," there inserted.