HC Deb 23 July 1970 vol 804 cc773-4
Mrs. Renée Short

On a point of order. I should like to ask for your guidance, Mr. Speaker, concerning the debate that took place on the Adjournment last night. I then had the privilege of raising a matter of enormous concern in my constituency since it involves the redundancy of 1,300 workers because of the closure of Courtaulds factory.

During the debate I raised several matters of substance and I asked certain questions of the Minister to which I sought answers. I asked for certain information, including, for example, whether the firm had asked for an increase in prices since the change of Government. I wanted to know what action the Government were prepared to take.

Although I put these points to the Minister of Technology through his Parliamentary Secretary, who replied to the debate, I received no answer on any point at all. This is most unsatisfactory to me as a Member of Parliament and it is highly unsatisfactory to those constituents of mine. [Interruption.] This is a matter of very great importance to all backbenchers, and certainly is of great concern to those my constituents who will be thrown on the scrap heap by the end of the month. The firm was due to close at the end of October, but it is now to close at the end of July.

I am asking what action Members of Parliament can take in those circumstances. [Interruption.] I ask for your protection, Mr. Speaker. Members of Parliament are not accustomed to sitting in the House in the early hours of the morning and not being paid the compliment of a courteous reply to all the points they have raised. They are not accustomed, and certainly were not accustomed during the previous Administration, to receiving disinterested replies from disinterested Ministers. I am now asking you, Mr. Speaker, for the protection you can give to Members of Parliament in these circumstances.

Mr. Speaker

The Chair cannot intervene in a debate which took place on a previous day. It is not unknown for hon. Members on either side of the House to be disappointed with Ministerial answers, either at Question Time or in debate. The hon. Lady asked for guidance, but there are other parliamentary ways in which she can pursue the matter. For example, she can raise it during Business Questions.

Mr. Arthur Lewis

Further to that point of order. In view of recent happenings, is not the hon. Lady very lucky to have had a Minister present at all? She should think herself fortunate.

Mrs. Renée Short

Further to that point of order. What I am saying is that not only should the Leader of the House make sure his boys are there, but he should make sure that Members of Parliament get replies from them when they are there.

Mr. Speaker

We gathered that was the object of the hon. Lady's remarks.