HC Deb 13 March 1969 vol 779 cc1562-4
Sir A. V. Harvey

On a point of order. On Tuesday of this week my hon. Friend the Member for Clitheroe (Sir Frank Pearson), in putting a supplementary question to the Minister of Public Building and Works, declared an interest, I imagine in the brick industry.

I queried this with you, Mr. Speaker, because, after nearly 24 years in the House, I could not recall an occasion when an hon. Member had declared an interest when asking a question. I realise that at the moment this matter is under general consideration, but until it is decided hon. Members could be in some difficulty if they are to declare interests when they ask Oral Questions in the House. [Interruption.] Mind your own business.

Mr. Speaker

Order. I am minding my own business.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Mr. Speaker, that was no reflection on the Chair. I was being goaded by some of the Left-wingers.

In giving your Ruling on Tuesday, Sir, you said: I should have thought that it is a good thing for an hon. Member to declare his interest."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th March, 1969; Vol. 779, c. 1148.] I should be very grateful if you could, on reflection, Mr. Speaker, give a further opinion on this rather important matter.

Mr. Speaker

I am glad that the hon. Gentleman has raised this point again and, indeed, that he was courteous enough to mention to me that he intended to raise it again. He has raised a point that he raised during Question Time on Tuesday when, in reply to him, I was defending the hon. Member for Clitheroe (Sir Frank Pearson), who had declared an interest.

On the issue itself, it is not necessary for an hon. Member to declare a personal interest when putting a question. This Ruling of mine merely repeats a Ruling my predecessor gave on 27th January, 1955, at c. 415. The hon. Member for Clitheroe, who declared a personal interest on Tuesday, did so out of courtesy and should not be reproved because he did something out of courtesy.

However, for hon. Members to declare a personal interest when putting supplementary questions at Question Time regularly would cut into Question Time and slow it down. They do not have to declare such an interest.

On the broader issue, hon. Members will find a much more comprehensive Ruling on 5th February, 1953, at c. 2039.

Mr. William Hamilton

Further to that point of order. There are a good many hon. Members, on this side cer- tainly, who believe that a very good precedent would be created if hon. Members had to declare an interest at Question Time, even if it meant an extension of Question hour to enable them to do so, because there are very many hon. Members, many more than is commonly appreciated outside, who have financial interests in several of the Questions that they ask.

Mr. Speaker

I have ruled on the position as it is. If the hon. Gentleman seeks to change it, there are Parliamentary methods of doing so.

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