HC Deb 11 December 1967 vol 756 cc32-3
41. Earl of Dalkeith

asked the Lord President of the Council if he will make arrangements to ensure that additional time is available for addressing Oral Questions to the Prime Minister.

Mr. Crossman

I will consider this proposal when we arrange the Question roster for the post-Christmas period.

Earl of Dalkeith

Will the Leader of the House bear in mind that there would appear to be a valid case for this request in view of the Prime Minister's assumption of direct personal control over the economy, quite apart from the obvious requirement to give him double-talking time?

Mr. Crossman

Whatever views the noble Lord may have about the Prime Minister, I suspect his real feelings are about his own difficulties. If he has difficulties in getting answers, he should ask the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten), who has such remarkable success.

Sir A. V. Harvey

As an alternative suggestion, will the Leader of the House ask the Prime Minister not to pad his answers so that he deliberately avoids getting to the next Question?

Mr. Crossman

I think that is extremely unjust. The last thing of which one could accuse the Prime Minister is avoiding a debate in this House. On the last occasion, Members who were determined to ask the Prime Minister about the Common Market were perfectly entitled, in my view, to take their time, even if it did mean that others suffered.

Mr. Francis Noel-Baker

Would my right hon. Friend agree that there is a serious aspect to this Question applying to other Ministers as well? For example, since the last Recess there has been only one opportunity to ask Questions of the Foreign Secretary. Would he look at the whole position of Question Time with a view to increasing the opportunity for Members?

Mr. Crossman

This is an eternal question which the Leader of the House has to deal with. Every time we do the roster we have the awareness that Members would like a shift in the balance between Ministers. On the whole, I think that the present balance is fair, but I am always prepared to receive recommendations about it.

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