HC Deb 23 November 1971 vol 826 cc1135-6
Mr. Hugh Jenkins

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. During supplementary questions on Question No. 13, you made a remark which perhaps you will be kind enough to elucidate for the benefit of the House. My hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) asked that you allow him to continue his supplementary question and then you said that in your view the subject was perhaps one for debate rather than for questions.

It would be helpful to us, Mr. Speaker, if you would indicate whether your remark was directed to the Question which was being asked at the time rather than to the subject itself, because there were a number of hon. Members on this side on their feet seeking information on this subject, on which information is short. It seemed to my hon. Friends and I, and hon. Members opposite who were present may have had the same feeling, that according to your observation any subject down for question can be regarded as a subject for debate. May I express the hope that your comment was particular to the occasion and did not indicate in any way the view that the subject itself was not suitable for further questions.

Mr. Speaker

I am grateful to the hon. Member for the way in which he has put his point. This is one of the great difficulties of the Chair. I was criticised the other day because so few Questions were reached. Today we had only 31. There comes a time when I have to exercise my judgment as to whether I think that it is questioning with a view to seeking information or to make debating points. That is a judgment for me. I have no doubt that I shall make mistakes and not give satisfaction. All I can promise is that I will do the best I can.

Mr. Frank Allaun

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate your difficulties, and nobody is trying to teach you your business. However, Mr. Speaker, you are sensitive to the feeling of the House, and it was apparent at that time that there were a large number of hon. Members wishing to ask questions. In such circumstances, Mr. Speaker, I think that you should pay attention to the views of the House when hon. Members wish to pursue a question.

Mr. Speaker

I should be very willing to be taught my business. It is a great help to have a teacher. I will study carefully what the hon. Members for Salford, East (Mr. Frank Allaun) and for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) have said and what I myself said at the time. There is pressure to get on with Questions. From the point of view of the Chair, it would be much easier to let supplementary questions run. Then we should have 5, 6, 7 or 8 Questions a day. It would be much easier for me and cause me much less anxiety. However, I am willing to be taught my business, and I will study what the hon. Gentleman has said.