§ Mr. Wigg
Mr. Speaker, on 12th July I asked for your Ruling on a statement which had been made by the Minister of Defence in which he had found it convenient to circulate about some 2,000 words in the OFFICIAL. REPORT. On examining the Minister's statement with closer attention, I discovered that his opening words were:Following General Qasim's announcement on 28th June, 1961."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th July. 1961; Vol. 644, c. 214.]I endeavoured to trace this statement. Although General Kassim makes lots of statements, it is perfectly clear that he made no statement on that day.
I therefore put a Question on the Order Paper, addressed to the Minister of Defence, asking him to give particulars of this announcement, and my Question made the reference to the fact that the statement had originally been made by the Minister of Defence. This morning I discovered on the Order Paper—again, for reasons of which I do not complain—that the reference to the Minister's statement had been deleted from the Question.
I telephoned the Minister's private office and drew the attention of his private secretary to the fact that my Question was related to the Minister's statement. I now find with some astonishment that the Minister of Defence has found it convenient to transfer the Question to the Foreign Office.
I wonder, Mr. Speaker, in what way an hon. Member can have some protection? What I am challenging here is not the content of the Question, but the fact that, once again, the Minister of Defence has made a statement which, on investigation, proves to be incorrect.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Gentleman says that he is not complaining about the change in the form of the Question. I know nothing about that; I should have to find out, if need be. The hon. Gentleman also knows, I am sure—and I have maintained the principle, which I must—that transfer is not a matter for which the Chair can accept responsibility.
§ Mr. Wigg
May I then address my question to the Leader of the House [HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—as this is a matter which concerns every hon. Member? May I ask the Leader of the House whether he will be good enough to use his influence with his right hon. Friend to ensure that the Question is answered by the Minister of Defence?
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. We cannot have an irregular question asked at an irregular time. I hope that it was possible to hear the hon. Gentleman, and that perhaps that will suffice.