Questions to Ministers

Oral Answers to Questions — Ministry of Labour – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th July 1967.

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Photo of Mr Frank Allaun Mr Frank Allaun , Salford East

I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker. I realise that this puts you in a very difficult position, but there have been 17 interventions by the three very attractive, good-looking and altogether very pleasant Front Bench members of the Opposition, and it seems to us rather unfair to you that if a Front Bench Opposition speaker gets up you are in some difficulty in avoiding calling him. Would you not think it possible, for the guidance of others, that 17 was rather overdoing it?

Photo of Sir Arthur Harvey Sir Arthur Harvey , Macclesfield

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Before you reply, perhaps I may say that although the hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) is well intentioned in his question to you, he has taken into account the original Questions of my right hon. and hon Friends, and their supplementaries, which are included in that figure of 17.

Photo of Dr Horace King Dr Horace King , Southampton, Itchen

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) for putting his point of order in such a charming and disarming way. The Chair is never embarrassed, for the Chair must never take sides, and that is quite axiomatic.

The hon. Member for Macclesfield (Sir A. V. Harvey) has partly answered the point of order. It is only the leaders on the Opposition Front Bench who do not have the privilege of putting down Questions. The lesser members, if I may say so without any disrespect, of the "shadow" Front Bench have the right and privilege of putting down Questions, so that the total that the hon. Member for Salford, East gave included the Questions they put in their own capacity as back bench Members of Parliament, and the interventions they made, powerfully, on behalf of their Front Bench.

I should like to make the general observation that too many interventions from the Front Bench deprive back benchers of the right to take part in the cut and thrust of debate, but this is a point that the Front Bencher must weigh up for himself. It is his job to see whether, in the Question and Answer that has arisen, there is not an opportunity for a major Front Bench intervention. That question one must leave to the conscience and political wisdom of the "shadow" front-benchers.