HC Deb 21 November 1951 vol 494 cc390-1
The Minister of Health (Mr. Harry Crookshank)

Discussions have taken place through the usual channels in regard to Scottish Questions. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland has responsibility for Scottish affairs covering a wide field and it is felt that special arrangements should be made to ensure that Scottish Questions are reached on one day before the House adjourns.

In the exceptional circumstances it has been agreed through the usual channels that Scottish Questions be brought to the top of the list on Tuesday, 4th December. Then, after the Recess, Scotland will resume its normal place in the list, and become second on the first Tuesday when we meet and first place on the following Tuesday.

I wish to stress that this is a special arrangement, made in unusual circumstances, and I hope that hon. Members in all parts of the House will be good enough to accept these proposals, which must not be considered in any way as a precedent.

Mr. A. Woodburn

I should like to express, on behalf of the Scottish Members, our thanks for this concession to the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Tradeston (Mr. Rankin). It was a very long interval, and this will certainly satisfy Scottish Members.

Mr. J. Rankin

May I say to the right hon. Gentleman that I appreciate the satisfactory way in which he has met the protests which were made from this side of the House?

Mr. John Wheatley

Bearing in mind that the Secretary of State for Scotland has the responsibility for four Departments, the counterparts of which are the responsibility of five Ministers in England who deal with Local Government, Planning, Housing, Agriculture, the Home Department, and Health, will the right hon. Gentleman give consideration to an arrangement for Questions to the Secretary of State for Scotland being put down on more than one day each week?

Mr. Crookshank

That is quite a different question. At the moment I am only dealing with facilities before Christmas. I am very much obliged to the right hon. Member for East Stirling (Mr. Woodburn) and to the hon. Member for Tradeston (Mr. Rankin) for the kind words they have used about our efforts to solve this problem.

Mr. S. O. Davies

Could the right hon. Gentleman inform the House when he proposes to make the same arrangements for Wales?

Mr. Wheatley

Does not the Leader of the House agree that the question which I put is inter-related to the matter with which he has dealt, and that it might be for the convenience not only of Scottish Members but of other Members if Scottish Questions were placed throughout the week? Will he be prepared to consider the matter, if need be, through the usual channels?

Mr. Speaker

These matters are usually arranged through the usual channels, and if any variation is desired the request is made through the usual channels.

Mr. T. Driberg

On a point of order. Even if these arrangements are made through the usual channels, is it not possible for back benchers to ask the Leader of the House questions about them, as they affect all Members of the House?

Mr. Speaker

I was trying to get the House to pass on to the next business, because these arrangements were come to through the usual channels and they can be varied if necessary. But if the hon. Member for Maldon (Mr. Driberg) has a question to put he can do so.

Mr. Driberg

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to ask the Leader of the House if he can say which Minister is likely to be displaced on Tuesday, 4th December, by this unusual arrangement, which may indeed be necessary, and if he will give an undertaking that no Minister will be displaced whom there will have been no opportunity of questioning orally before Christmas?

Mr. Crookshank

To the best of my recollection it is the Minister of Works who is passed over. He does, of course, take the place of the Secretary of State for Scotland on the same day, so that should time permit he will be available to answer such Questions as are on the Order Paper.