HC Deb 08 December 1971 vol 827 c1298
Mr. George Cunningham

On a point of order. I want to seek your assistance, Mr. Speaker, on a matter concerning the admissibility of certain Questions to Ministers. I realise that you cannot change the rules and practices of the House, but the point I am raising is, I suggest, within your discretion.

I recently tried to ask a Question of a Minister which the Table Office believed might have been already answered by a remark in a Minister's speech. To satisfy themselves whether or not that was so, the Table Office telephoned the Department concerned and asked for the Department's view on whether the by-the-way remarks of the Minister bad specifically answered the Question.

I suggest, Mr. Speaker, that when a Member of Parliament wants to put a Question to a Minister, if from the words in HANSARD on their own it is not clear to the Table Office that the Question has been answered, it is not right that an approach should be made to the Department to see whether the Member of Parliament can ask it. I ask you to consider giving instructions that that practice should be terminated.

Mr. Speaker

I want the assistance of the House on these matters. I am getting a series of points of order on Questions and on the Table Office. The correct procedure would be for the hon. Member to raise the matter first with the Table Office and then, if the hon. Member thinks the answer is unsatisfactory, to talk to me about it. If my answer is unsatisfactory, the hon. Member should then raise it as a matter for the House. I do not think the time of the House should be taken up with these matters initially. I will certainly look into the point the hon. Member has raised.