HC Deb 13 February 1922 vol 150 cc583-5
31. Sir W. DAVISON

asked the Prime Minister whether his attention has been called to the statement made by the Liverpool coroner on 3rd February at the conclusion of an inquest on the bodies of four members of a family named Craig, who were found to have died from poisoning by carbon monoxide due to a defect in the gas fittings of their bedroom, to the effect that so long as this poisonous substance was allowed to remain in the supply of gas for illuminating and heating purposes it was dangerous for anyone to have a gas fire in his bedroom; and whether he will introduce such legislation as may be necessary to protect the public from this serious though avoidable risk?


I have been asked to answer this question. I am aware of the case to which my hon. Friend refers, but I have not seen any report of the pro- ceedings which contains the statement mentioned. The draft of a Special Order proposed to be made by the Board of Trade, the effect of which is to prohibit the supply of any gas containing carbon monoxide unless it has a distinctive pungent smell, has been already approved by a Resolution of this House, and the Order will be made as soon as the necessary Resolution has been passed in another place.


When is it expected that that Resolution will be passed, as this is a very urgent public matter?


On a point of Order. Is this a question which ought to be addressed to the Prime Minister or to the Minister of Health?


I think the hon. and gallant Gentleman has raised a very proper point. Clearly it is a question for the Board of Trade. There is a custom growing up of trying to put all questions to the Prime Minister. In the interests of the House and of administration generally, many of them should be addressed to the Ministers in charge of the Departments concerned.


This question appears in my name. I always understood that questions asking whether legislation would be introduced were properly addressed to the Prime Minister?


I am responsible for gas.


May I suggest that that the Clerks at the Table ought to see that questions addressed to the Prime Minister are really questions for him, and, if they are not questions for the Prime Minister, to transfer them to the proper Departments?


Before a reply be given, may I say that on the first day this House met I carefully counted the questions put to the Prime Minister. There were 27, and there were only seven answered by the Prime Minister. It appears to me that some hon. Members put down questions to the Prime Minister in order to get priority.


I think that the hon. and gallant Member has performed a useful function in drawing attention to the matter. The responsibility is mine. Through my assistants, I will see that the rule is more strictly adhered to.


It is very difficult for Members to find out who is the responsible Minister to whom questions should be put.


There are Clerks at the Table to give advice on that point.