Mr Speaker, I want to
assure Hon Members that I am committed to ensuring that Hon Ministers themselves come to answer Questions on the floor of this House. It is a commitment of this House and I want to assure Hon Colleagues
that all Hon Ministers are dedicated to doing just that -- to performing that role. It is only sometimes due to circumstances beyond their control that this thing happens that they send an Hon Deputy Minister.
Mr Speaker, we have had occasions to admit some Hon Deputy Ministers to answer Questions and particularly this is an Hon Deputy Minister who is a Member of this august House and knows the terrain very well.
Mr Speaker, these Questions are constituency-specific and they are very, very important to the Hon Members who have asked those Questions, so that the Ministry can address the issues of energy affecting their constituencies.
So, without prejudice to what my Hon Colleague, the Hon Minority Leader has said, I think it is in the interest of ourselves and particularly those who are asking the Questions today that we allow the Hon Deputy Minister to stand in for the Hon Minister to answer those Questions so that action can be taken in respect of those constituencies.
It is in the interest of the Hon Members who are asking the Questions, who might have left other assignments, maybe, committee work or trips to their constituencies, to be able to be available today to ask the Questions. Now, if we defer them, it might be to their disadvantage. If we defer them to another day, it might conflict with a programme they have arranged for themselves and they might not be available to ask the Questions.
So, Mr Speaker, I want to assure Hon Members that I would not countenance with any Hon Minister who intentionally avoids the House by way of coming to answer Questions. I would not countenance that. I can assure you that. And we would
make sure that all Hon Ministers who are programmed come to answer Questions.
As time and exigencies of the occasion demand, I crave the indulgence of Mr Speaker and my Hon Colleagues to accept the situation so that we can make use of Hon Deputy Ministers who are indeed Ministers-in-waiting. [Some Hon Members: Oh!] Yes, an Hon Deputy Minister can act when the Hon Minister is not there. That is what I mean by “Minister-in-waiting”. You know it.
Anyway, I am craving your indulgence to allow the Hon Deputy Minister to answer the Questions so that we can progress.