HC Deb 03 May 1972 vol 836 cc387-9
Sir G. Nabarro

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I draw your attention once again to the fact that the garrulous character of the Scots has once more frustrated my pursuiae of the Minister for the Bureaucracy, and my Questions Nos. 39 and 40, put down 14 days ago, are once against not reached? I have in South Worcestershire the largest concentration of scientific civil servants of any establishment in Britain, and I am denied by the Scots the opportunity to ask Questions about their welfare. May I put to you that the time is now long overdue when the Scots should be relegated to a proper position on the Order Paper in order to allow the English to protect the interests of their constituents?

Mr. Speaker

I make no comment on garrulousness, but I think there is a serious point here which I hope the usual channels will consider. I think it is very proper that the Chair should have reasonable facilities for allowing questions to be pursued, if they appear to be important, which will not be pursued in any other way. That is why on certain Questions I allow more supplementaries. Nevertheless I think it is unsatisfactory that Questions to an important Department should begin at No. 35 on the Order Paper, and I hope that that matter will be considered.

Mr. Neave

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. As my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House is the Chairman of the Select Committee on Parliamentary Questions, would it be in order for him to say something now on this point?

Mr. W. Baxter

Further to the point of order, Mr. Speaker. The easiest way to rectify the wrong complained about by the hon. Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) would be for Parliament to give serious consideration to setting up, or giving us back, a Parliament for Scotland. We should then be able to attend to all our requirements.

Mr. Speaker

That is going rather wider than the matter of Questions on the Order Paper.

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Robert Carr)

If an Englishman may stay safely south of the border—[Interruption]

Mr. Speaker

I think the right hon. Gentleman is on the point of order. Do I understand that the Leader of the House was rising to the point of order?

Mr. Carr

Yes, Mr. Speaker, if I may. I was saying that if an Englishman may stay safely south of the border and stick to the Civil Service Question point, perhaps I could see that the matter is inquired into by the Committee which I chair.

Mr. Lawson

Further to the point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I again remind you and the House that the Secretary of State for Scotland is responsible for about seven Departments? If we have someone questioning our rights as Scots someone whose own origins might be quite doubtful in terms of which nation he comes from, the Chair might inquire a little more closely into his antecedents. We are very concerned—

Mr. Speaker

Order. The Chair has enough troubles, and if I were to be asked to look into the antecedents of right hon. and hon. Members I should find it an insupportable burden.

Sir H. Legge-Bourke

Further to that point of order. May I say how much the House appreciates what my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has just said? May I ask him, through you, Mr. Speaker, whether he will expedite the consideration of the matter, which is becoming increasingly urgent, bearing in mind the very important establishments in the various constituencies?

Mr. Ross

Further to the point of order, Mr. Speaker. We have no objection to the Select Committee having a look at the point about Questions to the Minister for the Civil Service, but if the Leader of the House had been here he would have heard the Secretary of State for Scotland say that the House had not been able to find time for discussion on the Floor of the House of any of the White Papers and Green Papers on the reform of local government in Scotland. We already have very serious complaints about the fact that we have only one day in three weeks to question the Secretary of State, who carries portfolios equivalent to seven Ministers.

The Secretary of State for Scotland (Mr. Gordon Campbell)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I point out that under the last Government the Secretary of State for Scotland came up for questioning only once every six weeks?

Several Hon. Members rose

Mr. Speaker

Order. We cannot have a debate on this matter, which is a question of the practice of the House. The Leader of the House has said that he will consider it.

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