HC Deb 01 February 1979 vol 961 cc1685-6
Mr. Pavitt

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I seek your guidance on a question which from time to time we have had to deal with—the question of the transfer of questions for the Prime Minister. It is very well understood in this House that where a question clearly falls within the sphere of another Department it is quite proper for the Prime Minister to transfer it to the Secretary of State of the Department concerned. We now have a series of questions which are in order, and very few that escape that particular barrier, but when a question is put to the Prime Minister asking whether he, the Prime Minister, will meet a specific body within the country, if that question is transferred to, say, the Secretary of State for Education or Health, the answer is immediately given that the Secretary of State may well be prepared to meet the interests concerned. But the question is not posed to the Secretary of State, because the Secretary of State is already prepared to have that meeting. The question is put to the Prime Minister. Is it possible, therefore, for guidance to be given whether it is possible to put a question to the Prime Minister whether, in certain circumstances, he and not his departmental chief may be prepared to meet a certain section of the community?

Mr. Speaker

The House knows that I am not responsible when Ministers transfer questions. That has been explained many times. Perhaps I can repeat the advice that I gave earlier; the hon. Gentleman should have a word with his right hon. Friend.