§ Mr. Bowles
I wonder whether, Mr. Speaker, during the interval before the commencement of the coming Session, you will consider the whole question of Ministerial statements without any Motion. Obviously, hon. Members are restricted in asking questions, because, as I have heard you say on various occasions, "There is no Motion before the House. I must close this particular business."
This practice started during the war, when the Prime Minister made statements on the war which were often un-debatable. Last week we had a statement by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, which was un-debatable, and the same thing has happened today. I wonder whether during the weekend you could come to some conclusion and give a Ruling as to whether the Minister concerned should move the Adjournment of the House in order to make his statement, and then leave could be asked to withdraw the Motion.
It is a problem which was in existence long before my time. Ministerial statements present a difficulty because, there being no Question before the House, they cannot be discussed. They can, however, be regarded as a useful 2806 means of giving to the House information on which a later debate can be staged. I think they must be considered, perhaps, as in some circumstances a necessary evil. I have given careful thought to this matter, but I do not know the answer to it.
§ Mr. Bowles
What we have had today is an ex parte statement by the Government to justify, I think, what they are doing. It might not be accepted by anybody else in the House, but you would stop a debate upon it immediately, Mr. Speaker, because no Motion is before the House. Will you not think the matter over again during the weekend to see whether even a short statement, as we have had today on Kenya, should not be made on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House, after which leave could be asked to withdraw the Motion?
§ Mr. Lyttelton
Perhaps I may be permitted to say that the statement was made in reply to a number of questions on the Paper last week which could not then be satisfactorily answered. A great deal of time would have been occupied had I attempted to answer all the points individually. I thought, therefore, that it would be for the convenience of the House if I gave a full statement.
The position is as has been stated. These statements are a method of giving information to the House, very often in response to requests by hon. Members. The question of moving the Adjournment of the House on every occasion would lead, I think, to a debate on the statement to the prejudice of the Orders of the Day and the business which Members wished to discuss. Today, for example, as soon as we can, we are going on to a Motion for the Adjournment.
With regard to what the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles) said earlier, it is true that when the Foreign Secretary made a statement about Trieste, it was not then immediately debatable, but it is to be debated today. Very often the interval of a day or two affords hon. Members the opportunity to collect their thoughts on the subject.