HC Deb 26 June 1974 vol 875 cc1555-6
Mr. R. C. Mitchell

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I apologise for not giving you notice of this point of order. but I was waiting to see how Question Time went today before raising it. You will have noticed that two hon. Members wished to put Questions to the Church Commissioners. That may not be a regular thing, but it is one of the constitutional points of this House that hon. Members should be allowed to put such Questions. Under the new rules the Questions to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster are due to begin at 3.10 p.m. In view of the questions relating to the EEC, it is almost inevitable, because of the popularity of EEC matters, that Questions to the Church Commissioner will never be reached in any circumstances on any occasion. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to consider this matter.

Mr. Speaker

This is a matter that should be considered.

Mr. Marten

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I draw your attention to the fact that there were 37 Questions about EEC matters on the Order Paper which were allowed 20 minutes. There were 32 Questions about non-EEC matters which were allowed 40 minutes. I ask that that position should be considered, along with alternative arrangements.

Mr. Speaker

That is a question not for me but for the usual channels.

Mr. Biffen

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I refer to the grouping and call ing of Questions which included Question No. 36. I draw your attention to the fact that although many Questions were grouped for answer you called only a limited number. Naturally I am disappointed that my Question No. 43, which was the third on the list to be grouped, was not called. The hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner), who did not have a Question which was grouped with the main Question, was invited to contribute to the exchange that followed, thereby underlining the validity of the belief of a growing number of hon. Members that the louder the voice the greater the likelihood of being favoured. May I respectfully submit that this is a process that has been increasing and which should diminish?

Mr. Speaker

Regarding the grouping of Questions, I should have thought that Ministers should consider the possibility of grouping, for example, only three or four Questions. That would mean that there would be dealt with, at one time, a limited number of Questions and supplementary questions. Hon. Members with similar Questions further down the Order Paper would not necessarily lose this chance later on. By calling all hon. Members whose Questions were grouped with Question No. 32, I should have prevented hon. Members who had Questions higher up in the list from asking their Questions. I realised that there might be some criticism of what I have done, but I hope that the House and Ministers will consider whether what I have suggested is a better procedure.