HC Deb 07 December 1954 vol 535 cc774-6
48. Mr. Ross

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of recent and proposed transfers of responsibility from United Kingdom Ministers to the Secretary of State for Scotland, he will arrange for the Secretary of State to answer Questions on more than one day each week.

The Prime Minister

The allocation of days for Questions to particular Ministers is decided by the Leader of the House after consultation through the usual channels with the Leader of the Opposition and with you, Sir. The Secretary of State for Scotland has for a long time answered Questions on Tuesdays.

The proposal to take Scottish Questions for oral answer on more than one day a week has been raised from time to time in the past. Further time for Scottish Questions could, however, only be provided at the expense of the time at present allocated to other subjects, and there is no indication that this would meet with the general approval of the House. I do not therefore consider that the proposed transfers of responsibility will make it necessary to allocate another day for Scottish Questions.

Mr. Ross

Surely the Prime Minister will realise that the action of his Government, both in the past Session and the present one, has been to transfer to the Secretary of State for Scotland control over electricity in Scotland and now over roads. The result is that the Secretary of State has responsibility for seven different Departments which, in England, are the responsibilities of different Ministers. We have only one hour each Tuesday, which is also shared by six other Departments. That is completely inadequate, and, if the Prime Minister wishes to give justice to Scotland, her voice upon Questions relating to these matters must be heard in this House.

Mr. Woodburn

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that if too many Scottish Questions occasionally arise on one day and so exclude all the other Members of the House from participation in that day's Questions, it does cause a certain amount of irritation, which is disturbing to Scottish Members as well as to English Members? We feel that the work of the House would be better distributed if some of these Questions were transferred to other days.

The Prime Minister

All these matters are internal matters of the business of the House and may well be made the subject of continuous interchange through the usual channels or, if need be, through exceptional channels.

Colonel Gomme-Duncan

Is my right hon. Friend aware that we have the fullest possible confidence in the present Secretary of State for Scotland and that this is a question of presentation rather than the difficulties of individual Ministers?

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Can the Prime Minister say whether the mysterious silence of the Secretary of State for Scotland is due to the fact that he does not know what is going on in this House because he no longer receives the Tory Whip?

The Prime Minister

I am afraid that I am uninformed on that aspect of the question.