Points of Order (Mr. Speaker's Ruling)

– in the House of Commons at 4:10 pm on 12th February 1987.

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Photo of Mr Andrew Faulds Mr Andrew Faulds , Warley East 4:10 pm, 12th February 1987

Further to a point of order which was raised a long time ago, Mr. Speaker. You are well aware of my warm predisposition towards you. You made a statement about the point of order procedures. You claimed to be reverting to an older practice. I have grown grey, if not white in parts, in the service and I remember 21 years ago, when I first graced the Back Benches, to be permanently on the Back Benches, that you were still a gallant soldier.

Photo of Mr Andrew Faulds Mr Andrew Faulds , Warley East

You had been a gallant soldier, and still are.

You have suggested, Sir, that all these points of order should be postponed until there is lump treatment of them after questions and statements. This means only one thing: if you postpone points of order, you break the continuity of argument to which the points of order referred. I doubt if that is advisable, because it might be interpreted that your intention is to dispossess hon. Members of a long-established tradition of arguing points of order relevant to the matter then under discussion. Were you to maintain this argument, it would mean — [Interruption.] Conservative Members need education. If it comes to a clash of voices, I might win.

If points of order are not acceded to when they are first raised, it seems to me that this lessens the rights of hon. Members to intervene there and then when points on which they wish to comment arise. You have had no trouble on this aspect, Sir, only because the Labour party is a very responsible party and because you have a compliant crowd of drips on the Conservative Benches.

Is it not true that you have become a somewhat radical Speaker, Sir? You have changed the practice on questions in two ways. You have allowed a situation to develop which you are now trying to rectify. Instead of Prime Minister's Question Time being relevant to the Prime Minister's activities of the day — you are trying to restore that—you have allowed that to lapse. Perhaps more important than that, you have allowed the practice to develop whereby hon. Members are allowed to quote in supplementary questions. When I was young, that was not allowed. I ask you carefully to reconsider your application of the rules of procedure on these matters, especially with relevance to the appositeness of points of order being raised the moment the discussion under way needs that intervention.

Photo of Mr Bernard Weatherill Mr Bernard Weatherill , Croydon North East

I thank the hon. Member for the first and final parts of his comments. I hope that I am sticking to the rules as operated by my predecessors. I did not go into this matter lightly. It was raised by the hon. Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) last Thursday. I have taken a whole week to reflect on it and have consulted widely. I have looked at the Hansard going hack to the beginning of my Speakership. I have noted that consistently there have been attempts to continue Question Time through the Chair and I have found myself constantly saying, "This is not a matter for me. This is a continuation of Question Time." By definition, a point of order must be a matter on which the Speaker can rule. The whole House knows that it is an abuse to seek, through the Chair, to continue Question Time.