HC Deb 23 January 1957 vol 563 cc182-4
12. Mr. Skeffington

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies when it is proposed to introduce the legislative measure providing for the integration of Malta with the United Kingdom.

Mr. Profumo

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given yesterday by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister to the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. J. Johnson).

Mr. Skeffington

Is the Under-Secretary of State aware that the Prime Minister of Malta and leaders of public opinion in Malta are very anxious to test public opinion there, particularly those who hold to the principle of integration, but that that cannot be done until the proposals are introduced into this House? Can we have an assurance that the proposals will be introduced at the earliest possible moment?

Mr. Profumo

I cannot give any assurance as to when they will be introduced, but I can give the assurance that they will be introduced as soon as the Government are able to do so.

Mr. Callaghan

Can the hon. Gentleman go a little further? Was there not an understanding that these proposals would be introduced during the current Session, and may we ask if that promise still holds good?

Mr. Profumo

I cannot give an undertaking that they will be introduced in the current Session. As the hon. Gentleman knows, there is still a great deal more to be done. My right hon. Friend will be meeting Mr. Mintoff in February, and is very hopeful that he will be able to solve some of the outstanding problems. As soon thereafter as possible we intend to introduce legislation.

Mr. Dudley Williams

Will my right hon. Friend, when having discussions about the integration of Malta with the United Kingdom, also have discussions with the leaders of the Christian Churches in this country on the subject?

Hon, Members


Mr. Speaker

Mr. Moss. Question No. 16.

Mr. Moss

Question No. 16.

Mr. Maclay rose

Mr. Rankin

On a point of order. Will you give me guidance, Mr. Speaker? Has it not been ruled repeatedly in the House that a Minister is not responsible for answering for a Department for which he has no accountability? Is that rule on this occasion not being broken by the right hon. Gentleman who now proposes to speak?

Mr. Speaker

The contrary has been ruled on several occasions—that one Minister is entitled to answer for another. I see that the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker) has come to his place. He was not here when I first called him to ask Question No. 13. Mr. Parker.

Mr. Rankin

Further to my point of order. Questions which I have submitted in the House have not been accepted because the Minister had no responsibility for the subject matter that I was raising. What responsibility has the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Scotland for the subject matter of Question No. 16?

Mr. Speaker

It is not in order to address a Question to a Minister who is not responsible for the matter but it is quite in order for a Minister to answer for another.

Mr. E. Fletcher

Arising out of that point of order, surely it would not be in order in the House for the Secretary of State for the Colonies to answer a Question addressed to the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Mr. Speaker

Yes, it would be perfectly in order, though it might arouse some adverse comment.

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