HC Deb 04 May 1966 vol 727 cc1621-2
35. Mr. Rankin

asked the Lord President of the Council why Scottish Questions will not be reached till after Whit-sun; and if he will reconsider the existing priority arrangements.

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Herbert Bowden)

I would refer my hon. Friend to the replies I made on 27th April in answer to similar Questions.

Mr. Rankin

Is my right hon. Friend aware that that was a very disappointing reply? Would he reconsider the matter in view of the fact that it is possible to put Oral Questions on Scottish affairs only roughly once in six weeks and that that is insufficient, because on that day we have to cover every single Department in Scotland? Would my right hon. Friend have another look at this matter in view of the fact that we also have—[HON. MEMBERS: "Too long."]

Mr. Speaker

Order. Even Scotsmen must put their questions concisely.

Mr. Bowden

My hon. Friend will appreciate that if we return to the old system of two Question days a week for some Departments, we shall be in no better position than we are at the moment. It is important to continue the experiment started 18 months ago to see where we get and certainly at all times to discuss the matter through the usual channels if any change is necessary.

Mr. G. Campbell

Would not the right hon. Gentleman consider having Scottish Questions on Monday as well as Wednesday to take the place of the Minister of Land and Natural Resources—that short-lived Minister—when he disappears soon?

Mr. Bowden

To have Scottish Questions on two days a week would only result in similar applications from Departments which at the moment attract more Questions than the Scottish Office.

Mr. David Steel

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider holding some sessions of Scottish Questions in the Scottish Grand Committee in addition to those allocated to the Floor of the House? If he is at all sympathetic to this idea, will he ask the Select Committee on Procedure to examine it?

Mr. Bowden

That suggestion seems to be acceptable to English Members, but not to all the Scots Members. We might have a look at this matter in the Select Committee on Procedure.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

Will my right hon. Friend consider whether these Questions should be taken in the morning?

Mr. Bowden

The question of hours of sitting is already before the Select Committee on Procedure. We look forward with interest to receiving the Committee's report.