§ The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:
§ 90. MR. DONNELLY
To ask the First Lord of the Admiralty, what instructions have been sent by Her Majesty's Government to Commanders of the Royal Naval units in the Far East, in view of the withdrawal of the 7th United States Fleet from Formosa.
§ Mr. Donnelly
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I have your help and guidance? My right hon. Friend the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Foot) yesterday submitted a Private Notice Question to you relating to the seizing of British ships by General Chiang Kai-shek's forces, based on a statement by General Bradley to the United States Congress. I understand that my hon. Friend's Question was not accepted by the Table, or by you—one or the other— and that this matter is being held over.
It is a very dangerous situation. At the moment a number of British ships are going about their lawful occasions on the high seas and there is considerable danger involved so far as our shipping is concerned. One of the advantages I have found since I have been a Member of this House is the elasticity of its rules of procedure. I have Question No. 90 on the Order Paper addressed to the First Lord of the Admiralty who, if he was prepared to answer it could, without holding up the business of the House, give an assurance protecting British shipping and letting people know where they stand.
§ Mr. Speaker
The Private Notice Question submitted to me related, so I am informed, to an incident which took place on 18th September last, and I did not think therefore that it could be of sufficient urgency to justify it being asked as a Private Notice Question. Regarding the general matter of Question No. 90, I have frequently stated that the rule is for a Minister to ask me for leave to answer a Question which is not reached. If that course is not taken an hon. Member must, like many other hon. Members when there are 101 Questions on the Order Paper, wait for his written reply.
§ Mr. Donnelly
Further to that point of order. The First Lord of the Admiralty is present and the thing could be settled in a minute—[Interruption.]