HC Deb 04 February 1960 vol 616 cc1224-5
Mr. F. Noel-Baker

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I seek your guidance on a matter which arises from answers given to me and to the hon. Member for Farnham (Sir G. Nicholson) by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury? I put down a Question to ask about the members of the area boards of British Railways. I was told by the Financial Secretary that, as this was a matter for the British Transport Commission and not for the Minister, he could not furnish the information. The hon. Member for Farnham then rose to ask a supplementary question and was referred to the Minister of Transport.

This is a clear example of the difficulty which hon. Members face in seeking information about some of the nationalised industries. Would it be possible for you, Sir, to give us some guidance about how we may obtain information on topics of this kind?

Mr. Speaker

As the hon. Gentleman knows, this is and has been for some time a plaguing problem. I should not like to have a shot at some sort of Ruling impromptu at this moment. I will consider, if I may, whether it is possible to do anything, as from the Chair, to improve present circumstances. I am not, however, hopeful of being able suddenly to find a solution to a problem which has baffled my predecessors for some time.

Mr. Mellish

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I was hoping to catch your eye to ask the Leader of the House my usual question on this matter.

Mr. Snow

Further to that rather mysterious supplementary point, Mr. Speaker, may I ask your guidance on another matter? This relates to questions to the Prime Minister about the higher direction of the nationalised industries. For instance, there is my Question No.51 today. It is becoming increasingly difficult to receive Oral Answers from the Prime Minister. I make no point against the Prime Minister about that, naturally, but already one has had to postpone Questions several times. Would it be possible to arrange that Questions to the Prime Minister should come on earlier, or that more provision should be made for Questions to him?

Mr. Speaker

I am not committing myself to seeing the hon. Member—that would he highly embarrassing all round—but there will be a debate on that and kindred subjects, so I understand, on Monday.