HC Deb 22 November 1951 vol 494 cc574-6
Mr. Crookshank

I wish to make a statement about Questions on nationalised industries—

Mr. Manuel

On a point of order. I understood you to call further business, Mr. Speaker. Should not your Ruling, which applied to my hon. Friend the Member for Ayrshire, South (Mr. Emrys Hughes), and myself, also apply to the Leader of the House? I respectfully suggest that there seems to be a different Ruling because of a different personality.

Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

It is not a different Ruling at all. What has happened is that I got some notice that a statement was coming, but it was not definite. If it had been definite, I would have called the right hon. Gentleman. I understand that the Leader of the House wishes to make a statement about Questions for the enlightenment of the House as a whole, and I think it would be for the benefit of the House that we should have it.

Mr. Crookshank

I am much obliged. I am sorry, Mr. Speaker, if it is my fault in any way, but a Motion is to be put down on the Order Paper and I thought the House would like to be told how it arises.

As I informed the House on 12th November, the Government feel that sufficient experience has now been gained of the problem of how to deal with Parliamentary Questions regarding the nationalised industries to justify the setting up of a Select Committee; but I must make it plain that this is irrespective of the wider review of the nationalised industries which the Government intend to undertake. This will, of course, include a review of their relationship to Ministers and Departments and to this House, and will take time, since it will have regard to the particular needs and circumstances of the individual industries. Meanwhile, the Government consider that, pending this larger review, the immediate problem of the information which should be made available to Parliament should be remitted to a Select Committee; they will accordingly place a Motion on the Order Paper proposing the appointment by the House of a Select Committee with the following terms of reference: To consider the present methods by which the House of Commons is informed of the affairs of the nationalised industries and to report what changes, having regard to the provisions laid down by Parliament in the relevant statutes, may be desirable in these methods.

Mr. Morrison

We have no comment to make on the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman, of which he has given notice. I presume that it would be a reasonable assumption that in the course of the investigations by the Select Committee it would hear, or be willing to hear—one can assume that—both the Ministers concerned and the chairmen of the boards of the publicly-owned industries so that their views, together with other views, may be before the Committee.

Mr. Crookshank

When the Select Committee is set up it will be for it to decide whom it wants to see and when and how to proceed with its business.