HC Deb 05 February 1963 vol 671 cc236-7
Q7. Mr. Dempsey

asked the Prime Minister if he will arrange for the Secretary of State for Scotland to be given further opportunities to answer Questions at Question Time, in view of the deteriorating economic situation in Scotland.

The Prime Minister

The order of Questions is constantly under review and is a matter which is arranged after consultation through the usual channels.

Mr. Dempsey

Is the Prime Minister aware that were he to examine the present order of Questions he would notice that the combined top-of-the-list appearances of English Ministers with duties similar to those of the Secretary of State for Scotland total 13 against one appearance by the Secretary of State for Scotland? Does the right hon. Gentleman realise that this means that hon. Members who do not represent Scottish constituencies may ask 26 Oral Questions, whereas hon. Members who do represent Scottish constituencies are allowed to ask only two? Does not that savour of discourtesy to Scotland? Will not the Prime Minister see to it in future that hon. Members representing Scottish constituencies may have more opportunities to get to their feet to speak for Scotland?

The Prime Minister

I have, of course, every sympathy with the hon. Gentleman. But the management of Questions is not a matter for me personally. By discussion in the ordinary way we try to get what best suits the House as a whole. It is difficult to please everybody. But I think that the system we use is the best to protect the interests of the House as a whole.

Mr. Hector Hughes

Does the Prime Minister realise that the 71 hon. Members who represent Scottish constituencies constitute one-ninth of the membership of this House and that therefore they should have at least one-ninth of the opportunities of putting Questions and receiving Answers? Whatever may be the office procedure governing the order of Questions, will the right hon. Gentleman take steps to see that justice is done to Scotland?

The Prime Minister

I think that the mathematical point is important. No doubt it will sift its way through the usual channels in due course.