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Corporations (Amalgamation)

Volume 462: debated on Wednesday 16 March 1949

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, in view of the excessive losses accruing, what is the future policy of his Department regarding British South American Airways and the other two Government Corporations.


asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation if, in view of operating difficulties, he will amalgamate the British Overseas Airways Corporation and the British South American Airways; and to what extent legislation will be necessary for this purpose.

I would refer the hon. Members to the statement that I made yesterday.

Why did the hon. Gentleman make the statement yesterday? Why did we have to receive a premature statement here because a statement happened to be made in another place? These Questions were on the Order Paper for seven days, and it is generally the practice when Ministers have Questions put to them to answer them in this House. Are we subordinate to another place?

I am at the direction of Mr. Speaker whether a statement is made. If the hon. Gentleman has any supplementary question, I will deal with it.

Is it a fact that this amalgamation is taking place, and, if so, is the new corporation—B.O.A.C.—going to assume responsibility for B.S.A.A. as regards aircraft which have already been ordered by B.S.A.A.?

I answered both questions yesterday, and the answer again to both is,?Yes, Sir.?

On a point of Order. The hon. Gentleman has now said that whether or not he makes a statement is at your discretion, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday when a statement was made, and the matter was put to you on a point of Order, you, I think, said that it was not a matter for you, but it was entirely a matter for the Minister.

Further to that point of Order; when an occasion arises and we try to put down a particular Question on urgent private business, if a Question happens to be on the Order Paper relating to it, however remotely, we are not allowed to ask it as a Private Notice Question. On the other hand, a Minister can come in here and make a statement at any time.

It was surely obvious that when a statement was to be made in another place, as I gathered was the case yesterday, there would have been complaints if the statement had been made in another place and not made here as well. Therefore, in spite of the Question on the Order Paper, the Minister was entitled to make his statement. If a statement is to be made—and I am no judge on that— and it must be made in both places, I think it is only courteous to this House that it should have a statement at the same time as the statement in another place.

I am much obliged to you, Mr. Speaker, for that explanation, but that is not the point that I raised. The hon. Gentleman said just now that whether or not he made a statement was a matter for your decision. If I remember rightly, you said yesterday just the contrary, and that whether the Minister made a statement or not was for him to decide.

I was looking up Erskine May this morning, and actually the Minister who wants to make a statement has to ask my permission. I am informed that a statement is to be made. I cannot say whether it is a good or bad one, but unless it seems to me to be quite unreasonable, I have no reason for withholding my consent.

I have seen a lot of this happen in this House. A Minister can make a statement to the House by permission of the House. It is the House that has to give the permission, and the Minister yesterday did not even have the courtesy to ask the House for permission.

The hon. Gentleman is in error. The Minister has the right to make a statement, subject, as I have said, to my consent, but, apart from that, a Minister on domestic affairs or on foreign affairs has, I think—I am speaking from memory—the right to make a statement. I think that if Ministers abused that right, the House would soon let them know.