HC Deb 05 July 1938 vol 338 cc188-9
Mr. Benjamin Smith

On a point of Order. I should like to draw attention to the small number of questions which receive an answer during Question Time. Within my recollection it used to be estimated that 100 question would be answered. Yesterday the number answered was 62 and to-day the number is 6o. I would ask your advice, Mr. Speaker, as to how many days a question must be on the Order Paper in order to get an answer? My questions 61 and 62 have been on the Order Paper for a week?

Mr. Speaker

The number of questions that we get through during the hour devoted to questions has caused me anxiety for some time past, and I have done my best to curtail supplementaries. The real reason why we do not get through questions more quickly is that there are so many supplementaries.

Mr. J. Griffiths

In view of the fact that during recent years there has been a tendency to put down a larger number of questions, and that Question Time has become far more important, would it be possible to consider the question of extending the time allowed for answering questions?

Lieut.-Colonel Sir A. Lambert Ward

Would it not be fair to say that the vast majority of supplementary questions come from the benches on your left, Mr. Speaker?

Mr. Attlee

Would not the putting of supplementaries be curtailed if Ministers would answer the questions on the Order Paper?

Mr. Remer

Would it not be much better if questions were put more clearly?

Mr. J. Griffiths

May I have an answer to my question? Would it be possible for the House to have an opportunity of considering whether there should be an extension of, say, a quarter of an hour for the answering of questions?

Mr. Stephen

Is it fair simply to deal with the number of questions that are answered? Very often important issues may be raised by one or two questions, and other questions may not be nearly so important. Is it fair to deal with this matter on the basis of mathematics?

Mr. Thurtle

May I submit that the real root of the trouble is that His Majesty's present Ministers have raised evasiveness to a fine art?

Mr. Speaker

If the whole House were to combine in getting through questions expeditiously there would be no trouble.