HC Deb 28 November 1979 vol 974 cc1290-1
Mr. Farr

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I wonder whether it would be appropriate now to raise with you the format of Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers Question Time and, in particular, how it is broken up between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in general, overseas development matters, and the EEC. The way that matters worked out today was that EEC questions got nearly two minutes each, overseas development questions got only about half a minute each, and questions relating to the whole of the rest of the world, including Rhodesia, got only about 35 seconds each. There seems to be a strange imbalance, which is not satisfactory.

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman has raised a matter that I know concerns the House very much. I am the servant of the House. I have to follow the Order Paper. However, this is a matter that hon. Members ought to pursue through the usual channels that are available to them.

Mr. Alexander W. Lyon

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Since the reorganisation of the ODM inside the Foreign Office, we understand that we table questions to the Lord Privy Seal, but I took it that the answer would still come from the Minister for Overseas Development. Has it been intimated to you, Mr. Speaker, that the reason why the Minister for Overseas Development has not replied today is a change of procedure, or simply that he is away today?

Mr. Speaker

Perhaps I may tell the House that I have taken points of order before the statement as a most exceptional course. It is very unfair when there is a statement to be made. I say that in order that this is not taken as a precedent.

Secondly, which Minister answers questions is, as the hon. Gentleman knows, not my responsibility.