HC Deb 17 March 1949 vol 462 cc2280-1
55. Mr. William Shepherd

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer the amount paid to London hotels for room reservations by Government Funds during the past 12 months.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

£8,400 has been paid from the Government Hospitality Fund for rooms for Government guests during the 12 months to the end of February, 1949.

Mr. Shepherd

How does the Financial Secretary justify this reservation money when the Chancellor told us the other day that less than 50 per cent. of Park Street had been occupied during the last 12 months?

Hon. Members


Mr. Glenvil Hall

If the hon. Member wants an answer and will put a Question down, I will give him an answer in due course. I should have thought, however, that the reply is quite obvious; it has been made more than once from this Box. It has never been denied that there are off months, both for the hotels and for 2, Park Street. Where Park Street could be used, it has been used.

Mr. Shepherd

But is it not a fact that the answer of the Chancellor indicated that the average per week was slightly over 50 per cent. sometimes and slightly below at others, and is there any justification, when the Government have all this vacant accommodation, for paying reservation money to London hotels for rooms which they do not use?

Captain Crookshank

May I ask the right hon. Gentleman to bear in mind that we shall be discussing this Vote later on today, when I hope he will come supplied with the necessary information?

Mr. Glenvil Hall

It would be a good thing, too, Mr. Speaker, if Members who put down Questions knew the facts before they put them.

Mr. Stanley

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. Shall we be in order in future, first knowing the facts, in putting down a Question to ask what they are? I had understood up to now that the point of putting a Question to a Minister was to ascertain the facts although, of course, we are beginning to understand that no longer applies.

Mr. Sydney Silverman

Is it not also the case that it has always been assumed in this House that when a Member puts down a Question to a Minister on the Order Paper he takes responsibility for any facts stated in that Question?

Mr. Shepherd

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker, I made no statement at all in my Question. I merely and properly asked for information, and what really seems to be the case is that Ministers ought to come to that Box prepared and knowing the answer.

Mr. Glenvil Hall

I was referring to a supplementary put by the hon. Member who made assertions, and on those assertions based questions.