The talks have not begun, and the responsibility for this lies entirely with us, because we are going in some depth into the issues which have been raised, and are considering suggestions which have been made since the debate on the Gracious Speech.
The strengthening of staffs is something to which we are giving a lot of thought, and we hope to be ready to talk to Opposition leaders in the very near future.
Is the Prime Minister aware that it is now three weeks to the day since he announced in his speech on the Address that he was going to ask us to take part in consultations—and of course we welcome these proposals—but so far there has not even been a suggestion as to when the discussions might start? Does not this indicate that this was again an ill-thought-out proposal by the Prime Minister, put into his speech to cover the barrenness of the Queen's Speech?
I should have thought that that was rather a churlish approach to this problem. I am aware of the date calculations which the right hon. Gentleman has worked out for himself, but it is the fact that when the talks start we should have these things worked out in some detail. There has not been very much time since the election, which occupied us all quite considerably, to work out new proposals for the new Parliament. There has been very little time in which to do that, and I thought it right to get the matter aired during the debate on the Address.