HC Deb 02 April 1953 vol 513 cc1335-6

The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:


TO ask the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence, what recent information he has received from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation on plans to co-ordinate the defence of the West; and whether he is satisfied that these plans are adequate.

Mr. A. Henderson

On a point of order. Following the speech made two days ago by Field Marshal Lord Montgomery, in which he severely criticised N.A.T.O., I addressed a Question to the Prime Minister for answer today in view of the fact that the House is going into Recess. It has now been transferred to the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and is Question No. 68. It is most unlikely that It will be reached in the normal course of events, and I wonder whether, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, a reply could be given at the end of Questions.

Mr. Speaker

As I have previously stated, the transfer of Questions has nothing to do with me or with the Clerks at the Table, Only Ministers themselves can be the judges of their own spheres of responsibility. As to answering Questions after Question time, I think we should proceed and see how we get on. We may reach No. 68.

Mr. Shinwell

As this is an important Question and calls for an answer from somebody in the Government, can we have an assurance that, if a Minister is willing to answer the Question at the end of Questions, on the assumption that we do not reach it, you, Mr. Speaker, will not withhold your permission?

Mr. Speaker

The proper procedure is that if the Minister desires to answer such a Question he asks my permission. I will say that if my permission is asked I will not withhold it.