HC Deb 02 June 1932 vol 266 cc1339-40

(by Private Notice) asked Mr. Speaker whether some means can be devised to limit the duration of speeches delivered in this House; whether he is aware that the suggestion which he made upon his election as Speaker upon the need for shorter speeches has had a ready response from Members of the Government but has been virtually ignored by many private Members; and whether he will consider the desirability of stating from the Chair that, within his discretion, with the exception of Members who wish to speak from either of the Front Benches, he will give preference to Members who definitely undertake to limit their speeches to 15 minutes' duration.


In reply to the hon. Member's question, I will deal with the last part of it first. I can give no undertaking to give preference to one Member over another. My only consideration in seeing any Member is that every Member should have as good an opportunity of catching my eye as any other Member, at the same time ensuring, as far as I can, that during any Debate all points of view should be expressed. No Member, whatever his position, except in some cases by usage, has more right than another to be called by the Chair, and I think that it will be found best to leave the discretion entirely in the hands of the Chair. As regards the first part of the hon. Member's question, the limitation of the duration of speeches has always, as long as I can recollect, engaged the attention of Parliament but, so far as I am aware, no satisfactory remedy for the grievance has been discovered. The solution lies with Members themselves. The exercise of self-denial by individual Members, consideration for others and, in some cases, the showing of mercy on the House, are the best ways to overcome the trouble.


May I be permitted to thank you for your very courteous reply, and may I further very respectfully assure you that there is a growing feeling of resentment and impatience in the House at the great breach of the privilege of being called by you to take part in Debate? May I further—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order!"]—I suppose that Mr. Speaker will point out if I am out of order. I only hope that this protest which has been made will be effective and prevent the abuse taking place.


I have given my reply, and I have suggested the remedy. I can do nothing more.


Is it not the case that some speeches which are very short in time seem very long to the House?