HC Deb 08 April 1968 vol 762 cc885-7

The following Question stood upon the Order Paper:

63. Mr. BIFFEN

To ask the Minister of Housing and Local Government, by what percentage the price of houses is estimated to have increased between the second half of 1966 and the corresponding period for 1967; and what is the expected rise during the current year.

Mr. Biffen

No. 63 to the Minister of Housing and Local Government.

Mr. Whitelaw

Where is he?

Sir Knox-Cunningham

On a point of order. In view of the unsatisfactory situation—

Mr. Speaker

Order. A point of order—Mr. Biffen.

Mr. Biffen

On a point of order. May I ask your guidance, Mr. Speaker? What now happens to my Question No. 63? Is the whole business of the House to be held in suspense until such time as a Minister arrives?

Sir G. Nabarro

Or until the Leader of the House answers it.

Mr. Ioan L. Evans (Comptroller of Her Majesty's Household)

The Minister is not present as we did not anticipate that this Question would be reached. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh"] We are sending for him.

Mr. Maudling

Further to that point of order. Is it not a fact that Ministers should not anticipate; they should be here?

Mr. Edwin M. Taylor

As my Question No. 64 deals with mortgage interest, to be discussed tomorrow, which will affect millions of householders in this country, have I protection against a delay which will stop my Question being answered as otherwise it would be?

Mr. Speaker

I cannot move from Question No. 63 to Question No. 64 which is in exactly the same position.

Mr. English

Further to that point of order. In these circumstances, is it not the custom to proceed through the other Minister's Questions and to revert to this at a later stage? [HON. MEMBERS: "No."]

Sir A. V. Harvey

As the country is now being administered by the Mark II Government, would the new Leader of the House like to make a statement about how this matter can be rectified?

Mr. Peart

I will certainly see that this never happens again. I have already sent for the Ministers concerned. If it is half-past three by the time they arrive, I will see them privately.

Sir Knox Cunningham

Would it not be possible for the Patronage Secretary tional Commission cannot be much longer to read the Answer, in place of the Minister concerned?

Mr. Speaker

The point of order is an important one. For the information of the House, I have been reminded that, per Standing Order No. 8(3): No questions shall be taken after half-past three of the clock, except questions which have not been answered in consequence of the absence of the Minister to whom they are addressed… I shall, therefore, see that hon. Members are protected.

Mr. English

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Would you now like to get an apology from the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) who, when I suggested this, said that it was not the case?

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