§ 12.49 p.m.
§ Mr. Orbach (Willesden, East)
On a point of Order. Would it be convenient for me now to put the Question I asked by Private Notice earlier, namely, whether the Minister of Supply will cancel the sale by auction of the surplus generators and diesel engines which has been advertised, and as an emergency measure loan without delay these power producing plants to industrial establishments on a priority basis?
§ The Minister of Supply (Mr. John Wilmot)
I regret that owing to a misunderstanding I was not in my place to answer the Private Notice Question which the hon. Member for East Willesden (Mr. Orbach) put to me earlier in the day, and with your permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a statement in answer to it.
The generators in question are 250 trailer mounted sets included in an auction of some 5,000 motor vehicles and cycles, which began on 3rd February at Spanhoe, near Kettering, and will continue until 10th March. These generators were due to be sold in March. In view of the fuel situation it was decided to sell them next Monday and the following days. I have consulted my right hon. Friend the Minister of Fuel and Power and we are satisfied that this is the best way to bring the generators into immediate use.
§ Mr. Eden (Warwick and Leamington)
May I ask for your guidance, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, on a point of Order? While the House will readily accept the right hon. Gentleman's desire to answer this Question and nobody makes complaint about the circumstances that arose, I do not think, with respect, that there is any precedent for answering a Private Notice Question at the end of Business. I lo not know whether we should not safeguard the position in that respect for the future.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)
I agree with the right hon. Gentleman. I understood that the Minister was proposing to make his statement forthwith, which would have been the proper course.