HC Deb 03 February 1949 vol 460 cc1834-6

The following Questions stood upon the Order Paper:


—To ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware that the Prime Minister of Eire has taken steps to interfere with the elections for the Parliament of Northern Ireland; and if he will protest against such interference with elections in a part of the United Kingdom by the Government of a country outside the British Commonwealth.


—TO ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware that the Prime Minister of Eire has taken steps to give active support to Republican candidates at the general election now being held in Northern Ireland; and whether he has protested to the Government of Eire, which is now a foreign country, against such interference in elections being held in a part of the United Kingdom.

Sir R. Ross

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. You will have noticed that on this occasion even the Questions to the Prime Minister were not reached. Would it be possible to do, what I know you, Sir, are very anxious to do, and curtail in any way some of the very large number of supplementary questions put to many of these Questions?

Mr. John Beattie

On a point of Order. May I ask you, Mr. Speaker, in view of the fact that Question No. 45 is not being taken here today, if there is any way in our Parliamentary procedure by which I could raise the position of Northern Ireland?

Mr. Speaker

No, I am afraid not. The question of whether Questions No. 45 or No. 48 were not reached has nothing to do with me. It has to do with the number of supplementaries which hon. Members choose to ask and I cannot control that. I do my best but one cannot raise the matter of Northern Ireland, merely because these Questions have not been reached.

Mr. Beattie

Is there any way in Parliamentary procedure by which I could induce this House to listen to what is now operating in Northern Ireland?

Mr. Speaker

No. Northern Ireland is responsible for its own procedure and we are not entitled to criticise that. Things which are done in Northern Ireland under powers conferred by this House on Northern Ireland, really are not matters for us to deal with and the hon. Member cannot transfer disputes from there on to the Floor of this House.

Mr. Gallacher

May I ask, Mr. Speaker, if it is not within the rights of a Member of this House whose life is threatened, wherever it may be, and in whatever country it may be, to raise the matter in a Private Notice Question as to the desirability of providing protection?

Mr. Speaker

It must be a responsibility of this Government. The responsibility of another Government is not a matter for us. Questions put at the Table must always refer to the responsibility of some Minister of the Government on this Front Bench and not of another Dominion Parliament or any other Parliament. That is a fundamental rule.

Mr. Beattie

Could I raise a question of Privilege as a Member of this House?

Mr. Speaker

A question of Privilege has to be put to me and I have to consider it. I cannot take a question of Privilege merely because an hon. Member says it is one. It is a very technical point and I have to have full notice of it.

Mr. Churchill

If the hon. Gentleman attended the House more regularly perhaps he would not have trouble over these matters.

Mr. Gallacher

Is it not the case that in regard to a Member of this House, were he in any country and subject to threats from a gang in that country, that this Government would be responsible, through the Government of that particular country, for seeing that adequate protection was given to that Member? May I further say that the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Beattie), although he is only an occasional attender, is no worse than the Leader of the Opposition in that respect, because after Questions the Leader of the Opposition generally disappears.

Mr. Speaker

I am sure that if any Member of this House complained of any threat to his life or property, or anything else, then this House would take notice, but naturally one has to have proof of that first.

Professor Savory

How can the police compel crowds to listen to the hon. Gentleman?

Mr. Speaker

I do not think that that is a point of Order.