Oral Answers to Questions — Questions to Ministers

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 31st January 1974.

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Photo of Mr John Biffen Mr John Biffen , Oswestry 12:00 am, 31st January 1974

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In the past 15 minutes we have had a most important statement by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on his letter to the CBI and to the TUC, an important statement, read from extensive notes, by the Leader of the Opposition and, to some extent, an important statement from the Leader of the Liberal Party. As Questions to the Prime Minister traditionally and, in my view, rightly are the occasion for back benchers to ask questions of him, would it not have been much more appropriate and within the traditions of the House if what we had discussed for the past 15 minutes had been the subject of a statement?

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

That is not a matter for me, but perhaps the hon. Gentleman's observations have been noted.

Photo of Sir Charles Taylor Sir Charles Taylor , Eastbourne

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Eventually the Prime Minister reached Question No. 2. I do not wish to waste the time of the House, but as the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Liberal Party hogged the time during Prime Minister's Questions, may I come to see you, Sir, to make representations that this sort of thing should not happen? Would you give a ruling on this matter tomorrow?

Photo of Mr Selwyn Lloyd Mr Selwyn Lloyd , Wirral

I should be delighted to see the hon. Gentleman at any time, but any idea that criticism about the length of supplementary questions should be limited to Front Bench Members is quite wrong.

While I have not been on duty in the House I have been studying in HANSARD what occurred some time ago and what has happened more recently. I find that all too often a supplementary question consists of two statements and three questions from back-bench Members on both sides. That is an abuse which the Chair has only limited power to deal with. It is for hon. Members to deal with the problem themselves, because every long supplementary question cuts out a supplementary question from another hon. Member.