HC Deb 25 June 1979 vol 969 cc28-9
Sir Derek Walker-Smith

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Do not today's proceedings supply further evidence of the inadequacy of the time accorded to oral answers by the Attorney-General? Of nine oral questions tabled for answer by him today, only two have been answered. Both those questions dealt basically with the same point, a point of admittedly great public importance and interest, but I am sure that you will agree, Mr. Speaker, that two out of nine questions are a small measure when the opportunity to ask such questions arises so rarely. Since my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House and the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Foot) are present, I hope that this matter can be suitably considered.

Mr. Cryer

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will have noted that my question was among those that were not reached. This is one of the rare occasions when I wish to endorse the comments of an hon. Member on the Government Benches. Occasionally there is a sensational case before the Houser and the time is swallowed up very quickly because of the number of points put to the Attorney-General. However, there are many other important but perhaps more routine matters connected with company reports, which deeply affect our economic system and deserve detailed and lengthy answers and comments. I urge this point upon you, Mr. Speaker, and also on the other people who deal with these matters in the House.

Mr. Christopher Price

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Since this is a House of Commons matter, I wish to emphasise that hon. Members on both sides of the House feel very strongly on this point. The number of questions tabled to the Attorney-General has been rising steadily in the past few years and a period of 10 minutes is not long enough to deal with them, especially since Law Officers are not the speediest of answerers to questions. Perhaps they need a little more time than do other Ministers to give their answers.

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Norman St. John-Stevas)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I shall be happy to investigate the point raised by hon. Members.

Mr. Speaker

I wish to say, in passing, that there were a number of hon. Members still on their feet when I moved on in each case. Secondly, I must point out that the questioners are equally long-winded.