HC Deb 30 November 1933 vol 283 cc1030-1

The following question, stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Mr. TINKER:

15. To ask the Minister of Labour whether he has considered the report of a committee of nine doctors appointed by the British Medical Association, of which a copy has been sent to him, in which it is stated that the average unemployed family is not getting enough food to keep it in reasonable health; and whether, in view of the facts in the report, he will consider the necessity of making provision for more adequate allowances to unemployed persons and their dependants


Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I should like to ask for your Ruling upon this question. On Monday I handed in the question addressed to the Prime Minister. It was accepted by the Clerk at the Table, and it appeared on the Order Paper on Tuesday addressed to the Prime Minister. On that day, I received a letter from the Prime Minister, saying that he had handed the question to the Minister of Labour and that arrangements would be made for it to be answered. It is now addressed to the Minister of Labour, and I desire to know whether the Prime Minister has the right or the power to alter the proper address?


It is a recognised practice that if a question is put down addressed to a Minister it may, at the option of that Minister, be referred to the Minister responsible for the Department which is considered to be more specially concerned. I would also point out to the hon. Member that this is really for the convenience of Members asking questions, because if a question be asked of a Minister which he thinks should be replied to by another Minister, his reply would only be that the question should be addressed to such other Minister. The Prime Minister in this case could have replied that the question should be addressed to the Minister of Labour.


The report to which the hon. Member refers is at present under consideration by the Ministry of Health Advisory Committee on Nutrition. The hon. Member will perhaps allow me to point out that the report does not, as he suggests in his question, state that the average unemployed family is not getting enough food to keep it in reasonable health; on the contrary, it makes it clear that it was no part of its duty to determine any such point. The hon. Member has no doubt read the Annual Report for 1932 of the Chief Medical Officer of the Ministry of Health, published two months ago, which examines fully the state of health of the average unemployed and shows that at present there are no grounds for apprehension.


Is it not a fact that these allowances for children are entirely inadequate?