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Prison Commission (Medical Member)

Volume 17: debated on Monday 25 April 1910

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had given notice of the following Question (No. 31 on the Paper): To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, when the place on the Prison Commission, recently rendered vacant by the retirement of Dr. Donkin, was filled, regard was had to the official Minute which was placed on record in the Home Office, on the undertaking of the First Lord of the Treasury and of the Home Secretary when the Prisons Act of 1898 was under discussion, and at the urgent request of Members of the present Government, to the effect that one of the Prison Commissioners should, if possible, be a medical man; and why, in view of the Minute so placed on record by their own demand, the vacancy was filled by the gentleman who acted as private secretary to the late Home Secretary?

As this subject was discussed on Friday last, and such information as could be given was given, I do not propose to ask the question.

As the question contains some statements which are inaccurate, perhaps I might be permitted to read the answer.

Would it not have been better if the right hon. Gentleman had been present during the discussion on Friday? I have not put the question.

Subsequently—

May I, Mr. Speaker, with great respect, submit to you a point of Order with reference to question No. 31 on to-day's Order Paper, which stands in the name of the hon. Member for Glasgow University (Sir Henry Craik), but which was not asked by the hon. Member, and which, having regard to your ruling, could not be answered. May I, with great respect, submit to you the footnote to Rule of Procedure No. 57, which says:—

"A. Minister may, if he thinks fit, on the ground of public interest, answer a question appearing on the Notice Paper although it be not asked."
May I respectfully say that the public interest involved in this question is that it reflects upon the position of my Noble Friend, Lord Gladstone, my predecessor, and as that reflection appears upon the Paper, I was anxious that a proper answer should be given to it upon the same day. May I ask your ruling again?

We had a Debate of considerable length on this subject on Friday, when a full statement was made by the Under-Secretary, and I presume the Under-Secretary said everything that was to be said on that occasion. If he did not say all that could possibly be said it was his own fault. The House had a full opportunity of discussing it, and the Under-Secretary had a full opportunity of stating all the reasons, and nothing fresh has occurred since.

With great respect, Sir, what I draw your attention to is, the reiteration of statements which are directly—

The hon. Member's question must have been down upon the Paper before Friday. It must have been down last Thursday or it could not appear upon the paper to-day.