Questions to Ministers

– in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd July 1981.

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Photo of Mr Alfred Dubs Mr Alfred Dubs , Wandsworth Battersea South 12:00 am, 23rd July 1981

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I raise with you a question concerning what happened yesterday evening in relation to the procedure for putting down questions for oral answer after the recess? Apparently, the Government put in a motion to the Table Office yesterday evening indicating the dates for the recess, with the result that any hon. Members who happened to be around and heard of it were able to put down oral questions for after the Summer Recess. The rest of us did not know about it. If that is to happen in future, there will be a temptation for hon. Members to hang about in the hope of getting hints of what the Government have in mind. I appreciate that this is not a point of earth-shattering importance, but a matter of principle is involved, and I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to be good enough to give it your attention.

Photo of Mr George Thomas Mr George Thomas , Cardiff West

I am obliged to the hon. Member, who gave me notice that he would seek to raise this point of order. It is the case that the Table Office was enabled to receive oral questions for after the recess last evening once the motion making the proposed date of return public was tabled.

Several hon. Members took advantage of their right to table such questions, and I directed that the random selection process should take place at 10 pm, which was the latest time to allow the questions to be printed.

It would be unfair to those hon. Members who knew about this opportunity if I were now to change my decision, but I have sympathy with the hon. Member's contention that the tabling of a motion is not a satisfactory way of making the recess dates generally known.

I now rule that, in future, if the intended dates are not announced in the House, as is usual, the day on which a motion appears on the Order Paper will be the first day on which questions can be received. That will, I think, meet the hon. Member's point.