HC Deb 14 June 1951 vol 488 cc2523-4
Mr. Spence

I beg leave to ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether you can give a Ruling on the following matter: whether the order of rotation of Ministers answering Questions which were on the Order Paper for Tuesday, 12th June, when Question Time lapsed, may remain unaltered on Tuesday, 19th June?

Mr. Speaker

I am sorry, but I am afraid not. This is really impossible. If done in this case it would inflict hardship on all hon. Members who originally put down Questions for Tuesday, 19th June. Moreover, the same thing would apply on any day when Question Time is lost by the previous day's Sitting running on beyond 2.30. When such long Sittings occur, many difficulties arise and disappoint some hon. Members. That cannot be prevented without damnifying others. I am very sympathetic to that fact, but I think it would cause a precedent which would be undesirable.

Mrs. Jean Mann

Is it not the case, Mr. Speaker, that if it is not done it will cause great hardship to Scottish Members who had 44 Questions on the Order Paper? Is it not a great injustice to Scotland that these important Questions should not be dealt with on the Floor of the House at the earliest possible moment?

Mr. Speaker

I can assure the hon. Lady that I am very sorry myself. I was looking forward to those 44 Questions. [Laughter.] I have no doubt that Scotland would have set a good example in the way of supplementary questions, but I cannot alter my decision.

Lieut.-Colonel Elliot

Does this not emphasise the appeal made by the right hon. Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"] If the course adopted by the Leader of the House had not been adopted, it would have allowed those Questions to be put. Will you do your utmost, Mr. Speaker, to see that an opportunity is given in future for a break in Business to allow Questions to be taken?

Mr. Speaker

So far, I have no official knowledge of what happened. Until the Committee has reported to me, I am not supposed to know. I can assure right hon. and hon. Gentlemen and hon. Ladies that if I can do anything for Scotland in this way, I certainly will do it, because I do not want them to be treated hardly.

Sir I. Fraser

Are you aware, Sir, that there are more Members of Parliament for Lancashire than Scotland?

Mr. M. MacMillan

In view of the smothering of so many Scottish Questions in the early hours of last week, and while I am aware that the Secretary of Scotland does not surface to top priority for at least six weeks, can you, Mr. Speaker, give a slightly unconstitutional assurance that you will be tolerant over a large number of supplementary questions? There will be many Scottish Questions to other Ministries on the Order Paper next week.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Member ought not to ask me what I shall do in advance. All I can say is that I will try to cast a favourable eye, even though I come from just the wrong side of the Border from the Scottish point of view.

Mr. Colegate

We all sympathise with the Scottish Members. Could not the Secretary of State for Scotland be allowed to meet the Scottish Members in the Scottish Grand Committee and answer their Questions there?

Mr. Speaker

I wonder if we might close this discussion now, because there is an important statement coming.