HC Deb 17 November 1970 vol 806 cc1038-9
Mr. Kaufman

On a point of order. As a new Member, I raise this point with some diffidence, but it is a matter which has caused concern both to myself and to my hon. Friends on this side, and perhaps to hon. Gentlemen opposite.

During the Summer Recess I put down a Question to the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity which was, because of its nature, transferred to the Attorney-General. That was Question No. 30 on the Order Paper today. Question No. 28 was reached. Had it not been for the exhibitionistic pantomime put on by the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro), contrary to your request, Mr. Speaker, that hon. Members should not raise points of order during Question Time, I should have been able to raise on the Floor of the House a question of direct personal importance to one of my constituents. I have now been prevented from doing that. May I therefore ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether in future we may have some protection from this kind of action and that, if points of order of an irrelevant nature are raised during Question Time, we may have some injury time in order that Questions which would have been reached can be reached?

Mr. Speaker

I know that I am the referee, but I have always discouraged the idea of injury time. The hon. Member has raised a good point. I have emphasised again and again from the Chair that if a point of order is raised during Question Time it occupies time. We have had a graphic description from the hon. Member how his Question, which has been on the Order Paper a long time, was not reached. But hon. Members have the right to raise what they think are points or order and I must hear them before I can judge. However, it is a good rule that, unless the point of order is immediate, it should be raised after Question Time. Then an hon. Member who has been taking great pains to get a Question on the Order Paper and is anxious to get it in gets it in.

Mr. Ashton

On a point of order. We have had Questions on farming, and many hon. Members who have raised Questions have had vested interests. Could you, Mr. Speaker, in your wisdom tell us when is a suitable time for hon. Members with vested interests in farming to declare their interests to the House before asking Questions?

Mr. Speaker

Factually, no question of declaration of interest arises at Question Time. This is one of the old rules of the House.

Secondly, an hon. Member may have a financial interest in some matter which is discussed by the House. If he shares that interest with another group, not only of Members but of citizens, and it is a matter of public policy, then he is entitled to speak about it.

Mr. Raphael Tuck

Further to the point of order raised by my hon. and diffident Friend the Member for Manchester, Ardwick (Mr. Kaufman). Would it be possible, so as to ensure that Questions to the Attorney-General are reached, for those Questions to be marked from No. 15 onwards instead of No. 25?

Mr. Speaker

This is a matter for the usual channels. I follow the Order Paper. I do not invent; I simply follow. This matter should be raised with the Leader of the House and with right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on the hon. Member's side of the House.