Oral Answers to Questions — Ministerial Statements

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th October 1949.

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Photo of Sir Waldron Smithers Sir Waldron Smithers , Orpington 12:00 am, 24th October 1949

asked the Prime Minister if he will issue instructions to all Ministers of the Crown to make important announcements to the House of Commons before doing so to any other organisation.

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

In general, important announcements of policy are made to this House in the first instance whenever possible. The hon. Member will realise, however, that this is not always practicable; there are, for example, times of the year when the House is not sitting. In any event, as my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council stated last week, the communications which pass between the Government and representative bodies of citizens are within the discretion of the Government, subject always to their ultimate responsibility to this House.

Photo of Sir Waldron Smithers Sir Waldron Smithers , Orpington

Is the Prime Minister aware that Mr. Arthur Deakin, in his "Workers' Record," said that before going on the air the Chancellor of the Exchequer called on the General Council of the Trades Union Congress and gave them a preview of the Government's decision? Why was this done, and why was not the House informed? Are we to assume that he has to placate the trade unions? Will the right hon. Gentleman remember the old saying that he who calls the piper plays the tune?

Photo of Mr Clement Attlee Mr Clement Attlee , Stepney Limehouse

The last point seems to be rather confused, but there is certainly nothing to prevent Ministers from consulting with individuals before a statement is made in the House.

Photo of Sir Waldron Smithers Sir Waldron Smithers , Orpington

Of course, I should have said, "He who pays the piper."