asked the Minister of Food what action he is now taking to secure an increase in supplies of cheese.
I would refer the hon. Member to the statement I made in the House on Wednesday, 11th April.
Has the right hon. Gentleman consulted the precedents as to the position of a Minister who feels unable to carry out the expressed wish of the House?
There are other Questions on the Paper on this subject on which I shall make a full statement later.
Has the Minister made full inquiries and taken full consideration of the fact that there are 25 million lb. of cheese in store in Canada? Could he say what efforts he has made to secure some of that for our ration?
asked the Minister of Food whether the cheese ration was treated by him as being two ounces or three ounces during the week ending 14th April; and whether he has taken any proceedings against those traders who supplied three ounces of rationed cheese to consumers.
If, as I assume, the Question means, did I take steps to enforce a two ounce or a three ounce ration, the answer is that I did neither. No proceedings have been or will be taken against any trader who supplied three ounces during the three days between the Resolution of the House praying for annulment of the order, and the coming into operation of the new order, again fixing the ration at two ounces.
In view of that answer, may I ask why, on Wednesday last, according to column 1041 of the OFFICIAL REPORT, the right hon. Gentleman disputed my suggestion that traders were perfectly free to sell three ounces of cheese?
I do not think I did dispute that.
Would the right hon. Gentleman read it?
Does not my right hon. Friend agree that the whole matter could safely be left to the patriotism and common sense of the grocers, who are not influenced by petty party stunts in this House?
Does not the right hon. Gentleman recall that during the debate on the Statutory Instruments Bill five years ago the Solicitor-General stated that the effect of a successful Prayer would be to bring the order to an end? As the Minister employs hundreds of people to enforce the law, should he not set a good example himself?
I think there is an answer to a later Question on the same subject.
In view of the inconsistency of the right hon. Gentleman's answer with his statement on Wednesday last, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.
asked the Minister of Food who are the members of the cheese buying mission he is sending to Canada; and how long each member has been engaged in the cheese trade.
The negotiations for the purchase of Canadian cheese will be conducted by Sir Andrew Jones and Mr. J. W. Rodden. Sir Andrew is my Department's representative in Canada. Mr. Rodden is the Director of the Milk Products Division and has been engaged in the cheese trade for 27 years.
Would not the right hon. Gentleman consider sending over for this job some private traders who are at present in the cheese trade rather than sending his own officials?
I have full confidence in these two gentlemen.
Would the Minister instruct them to go first to the Department of Agriculture of Canada House, in Trafalgar Square, where they will be informed, as I was that there are 25 million tons of cheese in store in Canada?
Both these officials will, no doubt, read HANSARD and will have their attention directed to that.
At the end of Questions—
On a point of order. May I remind you, Mr. Speaker, that in reply to Question No. 25 the Minister of Food said he would be answering other Questions on cheese later, and that he gave a similar answer to my supplementary on Question No. 32. In those circumstances, would you give the Minister of Food an opportunity to redeem that promise?
It has nothing to do with me. I have no control over that at all.
With great respect, Sir, might it not be pointed out to the Minister of Food that the Questions to which he promised a later statement are legal and constitutional in implication, and that there is, therefore, a certain urgent public importance in having an answer?
I have no power to order Ministers to answer Questions.
What redress has an hon. Member got if his Question is not answered on the ground that a subsequent Question is to be answered, Sir? Are we not reasonably entitled to an answer to the original Question? What redress has an hon. Member at anybody's hands for Ministerial replies of that kind?
After the hour for Questions nobody is entitled to an answer. That is the answer to that. All I can say is that had there not been so many supplementary questions we might have got on to these later Questions.
With great respect, Sir, the point I was making is not that it is after Question Time and that the hon. Member cannot get an answer now. I was trying to elucidate what remedy an hon. Member has got at the time when he puts the Question and is told that it will be answered subsequently.
That is a question I cannot answer, because I do not know the answer to it.
With great respect, Sir, the Minister was quite distinct in saying that he intended to make a statement, and thereby got away without supplementary questions which otherwise would have been asked.
I have already said that that has nothing to do with me. What a Minister says is nothing to do with me, and I think it is a little unfortunate that we should have this wrangle now.