Questions to Ministers

– in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 13th January 1988.

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Photo of Andrew MacKay Andrew MacKay , Berkshire East 3:31 pm, 13th January 1988

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The point of order arises directly out of questions today. You will have noted on the Order Paper that in the first 21 questions which were likely to be reached, four had been put down by hon. Members who belong to the Liberal party or the SDP. Not one of those hon. Members has been present. Do you agree that that is a gross discourtesy to you and to the House? Do you also agree that those who put down questions, and who were not fortunate to be high enough on the Order Paper but who have patiently waited, find it frustrating that those hon. Members cannot be bothered to turn up to ask their questions?

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

I am not certain that that is a matter for me.

Photo of Patrick McLoughlin Patrick McLoughlin , West Derbyshire

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. You have to keep a balance between the parties. On yesterday's statement by my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, 34 hon. Members were called. You called fifth in that session the hon. Member for Gordon (Mr. Bruce), who I believe is the Alliance spokesman on trade and industry, yet he has not had the decency or the courtesy to be in the House today for questions to the Department.

Several Hon. Members:


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

I think I can deal with this matter. It is a courtesy that if hon. Members cannot he present for questions they should let the Chair know so that those questions are not called. That happened in some cases today. As to the statement yesterday, I hope that hon. Members who were not called then got some happiness by having been called today, as I had promised.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Vice-Chair, Labour Party

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The Chair has been placed in some difficulty today. We all appreciate the problem of you having to check whether questions had been crossed off; some had and some had not. We understand the dilemma. It was put to me that in the merger the Liberals and the SDP were going through what is known as a negative care terminal episode. That is an American medical expression for death. I think you could resolve the problem, if you wanted to, by finding a name for them. I have got two. One is Lombard—I shall not tell you what it stands for. The other is PVC—plastic politics.

Photo of Mr Tony Marlow Mr Tony Marlow , Northampton North

Is it proper through you, Mr. Speaker, for me to help the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), who drew the House's attention to the fact that today has seen the birth of a new stillborn party? The hon. Gentleman was seeking to find out the title of that party. I understand that the chosen name is the SLD, which is an acronym for "sold down the river" party.