HC Deb 24 January 1977 vol 924 cc957-8
39. Mr. Tim Renton

asked the Lord President of the Council whether he will propose an extension of the weekly time available for answering Prime Minister's questions.

Mr. Foot

Prime Minister's Question Time has been referred to the Sessional Committee on Procedure. I think we should await its consideration of the matter.

Mr. Renton

As I asked the original Question, may I by way of a supplementary question ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he would let us more into his own thinking on this matter? Does he agree that it is necessary for any Prime Minister to show his mettle at Question Time? The present incumbent of the post is not showing his mettle but is flannelling. How can the Lord President suggest to his Prime Ministerial colleague that he improves his performance?

Mr. Foot

I repudiate all the criticisms of the way in which the Prime Minister has dealt with Questions asked by the hon. Gentleman. As the Prime Minister responded in the way that he did to the suggestion that the matter should be referred to the Procedure Committee, I am sure that it is much the best course for the House to allow that to happen.

Mr. Lipton

Will my right hon. Friend resist any temptation to extend Prime Minister's Question Time on Tuesdays and Thursdays, because the only effect of that would be a lot more rubbish than we get now from the Opposition?

Mr. Foot

A little extra time might ensure a few more Questions from my hon. Friend. That is one of the advantages that I see. A previous Procedure Committee suggested more time for Prime Minister's Questions but that was not accepted by previous Prime Ministers, and it has not so far been accepted by the present one. I suggest that, the House having again referred the matter to the Procedure Committee, the best course is to await what it suggests.

Mr. Burden

Will the right hon. Gentleman try to get the Prime Minister to answer the Questions that are put to him? That would be much more to his credit and to the benefit of the House and the country.

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