HC Deb 13 July 1976 vol 915 cc371-2
Mr. Evelyn King

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. On Question No. Q3 the Lord President of the Council was asked when the Prime Minister had last made a ministerial broadcast. However, the Lord President answered that Question by making a three-minute speech, presumably seeking to save time which should have been devoted to making a statement after Question Time. In other words, the right hon. Gentleman used Prime Minister's Question Time for that purpose. I suggest that that procedure is out of order and should not have occurred, and I hope that it will not recur.

Mr. Speaker

I am doing my best to get shorter questions and shorter answers, an aim which I believe is in the best interests of the House. I do not recall that the reply by the Lord President of the Council took three minutes.

Mr. Gow

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Is it not an abuse of the procedure of the House for the Lord President to read out a prepared statement in answer to Question No. Q3, which had nothing to do with Mrs. Bloch? Should not the Lord President instead have undertaken to make a statement on that matter separately?

Mr. Cryer

On a different point of order, Mr. Speaker. This is a matter on which I should like your ruling. Is it not an abuse of the procedures of the House for the hon. Member for Christchurch and Lymington (Mr. Adley) on Question No. Q2 to the Prime Minister to ask for more public expenditure on the tourist industry, in contrast to the view taken by the majority of his party, who seek to cut public expenditure, and for the hon. Gentleman not to disclose—I know that it is not a requirement, but I believe that it should be—the fact that he has a financial interest as the European Marketing Director of Commonwealth Holiday Inns of Canada?

Mr. Frank Allaun

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. There is an hon. Member in this House who takes part in defence debates, who asks questions on such matters and who is a director of a highly profitable armaments firm. Is it not part of the procedure and practice of this House that an interest should be declared? Therefore, although I do not wish to name the hon. Member concerned because I have not given him notice, may I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether you will tell the House what kind of conduct you expect in relation to the declaration of such interests in future?

Mr. Speaker

Before I hear any other points of order, let me deal with the last two. The House should know that there is no requirement at Question Time for hon. Members to declare interests. That is part of the practice of the House.


Mr. Lawson

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I am sorry that I did not hear your ruling to the point of order raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Mr. King). Is it, or is it not, an abuse of Prime Minister's Question Time for a Minister to make an important statement in the course of it rather than at the end of it?

Mr. Speaker

I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman did not hear my ruling. I said that I deplore long questions and long answers. Clearly I think that the House felt that the Minister had taken the opportunity by this Question to make an important statement both to this House and to the country. However I think that, in general, it is preferable that statements are made after Questions.