HC Deb 31 January 1963 vol 670 cc1130-1
Mr. R. Gresham Cooke (Twickenham)

On a point of order. May I say that—[HON. MEMBERS:"NO."] Mr. Speaker, may I ask you whether you would re-examine the whole problem of trying to speed up Questions during Question Time? I think that in this you would have the support of the whole House.

Today, we dealt with, I think, 29 Questions in all, including Questions to the Prime Minister, whereas in the last Parliament it was a quite frequent practice to deal with about 50 Questions. If I might respectfully say so, it seems that new practices have grown up during the last twelve months, and that the whole question ought to be re-examined.

I hasten to say that I have no personal axe to grind, as I had not tabled any Questions today. All the Questions were to one Minister, and only half of these were reached.

Mr. Speaker

I do not think that the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke) was alone in noticing that we had a very bad day today, but if the House wants to invent some new procedures I would hope that I might have formal assistance and have the matter referred to a Committee. Everybody knows what the evils are, and that no further inquiry is necessary. What is necessary is that I, in the service of the House, may have the assistance of hon. Members. I did not have it today, and I am unhappy about it.

Sir C. Osborne

With respect to you, Mr. Speaker—and I declare an interest, because I was bitterly disappointed that my Question No. 24 was not reached— while recognising your great difficulty, may I ask whether it is possible for you, through the usual channels, to have a conference with a view to drawing the attention of Ministers to the short Answers that used to be given years ago by Sir Stafford Cripps?

May I also, with respect to you, ask whether you are not too over-generous in calling too many supplementaries to Questions?

Mr, Speaker

The number of supplementary questions I can call depends on the length of them when asked, and all generosity would depart from my soul if I had another day like today. Do let us get on with our business.