HC Deb 29 January 1968 vol 757 cc870-1
35. Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

asked the Lord President of the Council when he intends to bring forward his proposals for amendments to Standing Orders to extend the time allotted for oral answers to Parliamentary Questions.

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Richard Crossman)

I have no proposals to put before the House on this subject.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The right hon. Gentleman will recall that during the procedure debates in November he indicated that he had under consideration some improvements in our arrangements for Parliamentary Questions. Is it not perfectly clear that with the number of Questions that there are today there is sufficient time neither for oral Questions to be answered nor for adequate supplementary questions?

Mr. Crossman

When we discussed this matter previously, I was thinking, to some extent, in relation to morning sittings. I think that we are doing quite well at Question Time. We are getting through more Questions than we used to do. I am not at present convinced that we should change the situation, but more evidence might be available later.

Mr. William Hamilton

Would my right hon. Friend consider again the possibility of having more oral Questions in the mornings, including Friday mornings, and limiting the number of oral Questions which Members can ask even when they are not here?

Mr. Crossman

I am prepared to consider all these things. We recently made a great many changes in our procedure. We might see how the new ones work.

Captain W. Elliot

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree that he is saving a great deal of time on the Floor of the House by such actions as sending the Finance Bill upstairs? Should not the question of extra provision of time for Questions be considered?

Mr. Crossman

As I say, I am prepared to consider all these things and to see how our new timetable works. But we should not make hasty decisions on this matter.

Mr. Emrys Hughes

As my right hon. Friend is considering the matter of Questions, may I ask him whether he is prepared to examine sympathetically having Scottish Questions put and answered in the Scottish Grand Committee, say, once a fortnight?

Mr. Crossman

As I have often told hon. Members, I am always willing to consider anything, but whether I would act on that is a very different question.