I am grateful, Madam Speaker. The Minister of State, the right hon. and learned Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg), refused to answer a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galloway) on some spurious grounds. Would he, on the same grounds, refuse to answer a question from the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Sir E. Heath)? Would he refuse to answer—
Order. I did say I did not want a bogus point of order. The hon. Gentleman might have something to say about the manner in which questions are answered, but that does not constitute a point of order.
Order. That does not constitute a point of order. If there is a point of order, I will listen to it. I have to deal with the point of order. It has to be something that I can deal with.
On a point of order, Madam Speaker. The ballot for motions and the box and book are kept in the No Lobby from half-past 2 and the normal closing time should be half-past 3. Do you not think that the latecomers' queue that forms in front of you and obscures our view of you should now be ruled out of order because it also militates against the more assiduous of us who get in there and put our names down earlier?
That is the most— [Interruption.] I must answer that because it is the best point of order I have had for a very long time. I have always been annoyed when Members like this— [Interruption.]— interfere in the business in the Chamber. I believe very firmly that the box should remain out until half-past 3, and at half-past 3 the procedure should be finished with. As those are the procedures at the moment, I have to allow Members to do this, but I certainly deprecate what is happening at the present time. I understand I can now stop it. In that case, I am going to. Finished.
On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I was standing for virtually every question during Question Time. I was the only Conservative Member standing at the last question and you had not called an end to Question Time before the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) got up on a point of order. Is that correct parliamentary procedure?
Yes, I watch the clock very carefully. I know that the hon. Gentleman is very assiduous at Question Time. It is not possible for me to call all Members, but I know how keen he is. It had reached half-past 3. There was nothing further that I could do.
Does it not say in "Erskine May" that a Minister has a responsibility to give an answer, and did not the junior Minister at the Foreign Office give the impression to the House that he would not answer my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galloway)? Surely he has to provide an answer. Some people may not like that answer, but I think that he has a duty to provide one.
On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I know that you will not comment on the rudeness and the lack of parliamentary manners shown by the Minister of State, which is legendary among Members on both sides of the House. However, if you consult the record you will see that the answer that the Minister of State gave was a stricture that I should abstain from asking questions in the House. Will you confirm that I have as much right as any other hon. Member to ask any question that is in order on behalf of my constituents? Leaving aside the question of manners, will you confirm that I have that parliamentary right and that you will uphold it?
The hon. Gentleman certainly has that right and that is why I call him on what may be regarded as a number of contentious issues—I want to hear all points of view expressed in the House.
Invariably, Madam Speaker. There is another aspect. By what right does the Minister claim that he can refuse to answer a question because he disagrees with an hon. Member's views? In the House of Commons that is wholly unacceptable and although, of course, you cannot reprimand this little Minister, perhaps he will have heard what I have to say and listen to my wise advice.
On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I want to get back to this box. The box for the ballot for motions is always placed in the No Lobby. That might give an unfair advantage to Labour Members because at least some of them enter the Chamber via the No Lobby whereas we on the Government Benches enter through the Aye Lobby. Will you consider putting the box in the Aye Lobby next time?
I think that that would be far too confusing for hon. Members. The box will remain in one Lobby. Most hon. Members have been here long enough to know where to find it, so it stays in the No Lobby. We have the ballot now; let us see who is lucky.
I wish that hon. Members would write more clearly. The third name looks like "Nicholson", but the Clerks are good at reading hon. Members' writing. It looks like David Nicholson; he should write better next time.