In regard to Question No. 4 (which appeared in the orders of the day yesterday as Question No. 24), in the name of Mr. Barnard, I desire to make the following observations:
In my opinion, there are only two ways in which a question can be properly, withdrawn when once it has been presented for answer in the House, that is, first by written notice by the member, putting the question, to the Clerk of the House stating that the question is withdrawn, or by the member, in his place in the House, informing the Speaker that he desired the question to be dropped or withdrawn.
In the British House of Commons the practice is that no member can ask a question in the name of another member unless upon the request of the member in whose name the question stands. (May 11th edit. p. 251.) The practice, however, in this House has hitherto not been so rigid as this, inasmuch as members have asked questions for other members under the assumption of an implied request, at least, and, in my opinion, it is not desirable that this practice should be changed.
On the subject of answers to questions the following is the practice of the British House. (See May, 251) :
A minister may, if he thinks fit, on the ground of public interest, answer a question appealing on the notice paper, although it is not asked. A minister may also, on the ground of public interest, or some other gronmd, decline to answer a question.
Having this practice in view, I think the hon. minister would be at liberty to answer the question of the hon. member even although the member did not call the same.