§ 2.38 p.m.
§ LORD OGMORE
My Lords, I beg to ask Her Majesty's Government the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.
§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government what the latest situation is in Nyasaland, what action Her Majesty's Government propose to take to reassure African opinion in this colonial territory, and what effect the unrest in Nyasaland is having in Northern Rhodesia.]
§ THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR COLONIAL AFFAIRS (THE EARL OF PERTH)
My Lords, I hope that the noble Lord will not object if I postpone answering his Question for about an hour, when I expect to be able to make a statement on the subject-matter of his Question—on Nyasaland—similar to one which will be made in another place by my right honourable friend the Colonial Secretary.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, I should have thought that that Answer was a little unusual for a specific Question on the Paper. I do not know whether this information is the kind of thing which has been refused by the Speaker in another place because, I understand, there is to 648 be a full debate there to-morrow; but surely, in ordinary circumstances, we are entitled to a direct reply now.
§ THE EARL OF PERTH
My Lords, perhaps it is a little unusual, but, in the light of the circumstances, and with the assurance that within the hour, or approximately the hour, I shall be able to give a useful and full answer, I thought that that might be to the general convenience of the House.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
I think it is rather more to the convenience of the House that we should make a principle of this matter. If a Question like this—a specific Question—is put on the Paper, and the information is available, then surely we are entitled to an Answer now.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR COMMONWEALTH RELATIONS (THE EARL OF HOME)
My Lords, I should have thought that the noble Viscount, on consideration, would probably think it would be more convenient to have a rather longer statement at half past three than that which my noble friend could make in answer to a Question; and we adopted this procedure because we thought it would suit the noble Lord, Lord Ogmore, better and that there would be the chance of rather more supplementary questions after the statement than would be possible on the rather narrow Question now.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
My Lords, there is a procedural question here. Are our proceedings here to be regulated, and are we not to be allowed to ask Questions until the matter is dealt with elsewhere?
THE EARL OF HOME
What a fuss the noble Viscount would make if we answered this narrow Question now and did not make a statement at half past three! I should have thought it would be more convenient to combine the two.