Oral Answers to Questions — Questions to Ministers.

– in the House of Commons on 4th August 1942.

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Photo of Commander Sir Archibald Southby Commander Sir Archibald Southby , Epsom

On a point of Order, Mr. Speaker. May I ask for your guidance regarding the transfer of Questions after they have been handed in at the Table? I put a Question to the Secretary of State for War which appears on the Order Paper to his name. When the Question was reached it was answered by another Minister, the President of the Board of Trade. If arising out of the answer some matter came up on which a Supplementary Question could properly have been asked which had to deal with the Army—which was the point I had in mind when I put down the Question—the fact that the original Question was being answered by the President of the Board of Trade makes it impossible for that Supplementary Question to be answered. I received no notification that my Question was not to be answered by the Minister to whom I addressed it in the first place and I suggest that steps might be taken to inform Members in good time if the Minister to whom the Question was addressed is not replying but has in fact "passed the buck" to another Minister.

Photo of Mr Vernon Bartlett Mr Vernon Bartlett , Bridgwater

Further to that point of Order. I should like to ask what happens in the case of Question 21. I was not notified of the change. I do not think it would have made any difference if I had been notified, because in point of fact the Ministry of Agriculture cannot reach the decision as to when members of the Women's Land Army are to be admitted to the canteens. The matter was decided in principle weeks ago but there is still delay because, I understand, the War Office has instituted a whole lot of inquiries as to the whereabouts of the Women's Land Army before a decision can be given. Therefore, it seems to me that if the Question were transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture I could not get a satisfactory reply.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

I have received a note from the Board of Agriculture which says that the hon. Member had asked for the Question to be deferred from the first Sitting Day to the second Sitting Day.

Photo of Mr Vernon Bartlett Mr Vernon Bartlett , Bridgwater

I was notified by telephone when I was in the country that it would help the Minister of Agriculture if a Question which I had put down for to-day could be deferred, but I did not know for one moment that it was a Question which I had put down to the War Office.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

Hon. Members have sought my advice on this matter many times. I can never quite understand why, if Members put a Question to the wrong Department, they should object to its being transferred to the right Department.

Photo of Commander Sir Archibald Southby Commander Sir Archibald Southby , Epsom

May I point out that my Question has to do with the distribution of sports goods to the Army, and it seems to me that nothing could be more germane to the Army than that? How that Question could be best answered by the President of the Board of Trade instead of by the Army I do not understand.

Photo of Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy Lieut-General Edward Fitzroy , Daventry

As far as I can see, the Question deals with two different subjects, concerning both the War Office and the Board of Trade. It is very difficult for two Departments to answer the same question.

Photo of Commander Sir Archibald Southby Commander Sir Archibald Southby , Epsom

But my Question specifically refers to the distribution of sports goods to the Army.