22 MARCH 1946, Page 4


THE half-hour allowed for the adjournment at the end of business in the House of Commons every day is, in present circumstances, the only opportunity private Members have (except for motions on the Estimates) of taking any initiative at all, and on the whole it is used to good purpose. Last Friday's discussion on the inordinate time taken by Ministers—which means Government Departments— to answer Members' letters was one of the best of its kind. It was intiated by Mr. Edward Carson (promising son of a notable father), who has taken the trouble to arm himself with some hard facts. His own experience, he said, show&1 that the War Office took on an average six weeks to answer letters, the Air Ministry eight weeks, the Ministry of Food five weeks, the Ministry of Health four, and the Ministry of Education three and a-half. Mr. Anthony Hurd, who spoke later, was even more amply equipped. He expressed the delay in days, and found that in the case of the Air Ministry the average was 5o, of the Ministry of Pensions 41, of the War Office 4o, of the Board of Trade 3o, of the Ministry of Labour 26, and so on. When all allowance is made for shortage of staffs and the investiga- tion which many inquiries call for, this simply is not good enough. If this happens to Members of Parliament, whose letters naturally get priority, what happens to letters from the general public?

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