HC Deb 10 November 1977 vol 938 cc855-6
Mr. Tebbit

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You were kind enough to listen earlier this week to various points of order concerning the vexed matter of the transfer of Questions, and in particular the problem which was raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Tiverton (Mr. Maxwell-Hyslop) concerning the way in which, when Questions are transferred, they sometimes become quite unintelligible even to ordinary people such as ourselves and not only to the Treasury Bench.

I draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the Notice of Questions and Motions, page 349 on the blue pages, where a Question of mine now reads that I wanted To ask the Secretary of State for Industry, if he is satisfied that his various statements made during Prime Minister's Question Time… and so on. It is clear that the Secretary of State for Industry does not make statements during Prime Minister's Question Time. We are sometimes left wondering who does, but certainly it is not the Secretary of State.

I understand that the Table Office has authority to edit Questions again in order to make sense of them when they have been transferred. I wonder whether you, Mr. Speaker, could arrange that when Questions are transferred in future the Table Office gets in touch with the hon. Member concerned to ensure that the Question on the Order Paper is still the Question that was intended.

I do not object if the Prime Minister does not want to answer Questions about his statements at the Dispatch Box but wants the Secretary of State for Industry to do so. If he is in a blue funk or even a red funk about Question Time, I do not mind. But I insist that the Order Paper should represent the Questions which were put down and not some strange amalgam of other Questions.

Mr. Litterickrose—

Mr. Speaker

Order. May I answer that point of order? The House is aware that we are all very much in debt to the Table Office. It is very helpful—at least it was in my time and I expect it is now—in helping hon. Members in the formation of Questions and in putting them down. I will look into the matter raised by the hon. Gentleman because I am aware, as the House is aware, that normally every courtesy is extended to hon. Members and every help that can be given is given.

Mr. Tebbit

May I say that I have certainly always found that that is so of the Table Office? It could not be more helpful. The problem arises that the Question is transferred overnight from the Departments concerned and appears on the Order Paper in the bowdlerised form before even the Table Office can get to it.