§ Mr. Jim Marshall (Leicester, South)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I have given you notice of the point of order that I wish to raise. I appreciate the difficulties that you face in this area. You will recall that on yesterday's Order Paper I had tabled Question No. 9 to the Secretary of State for Energy. My question was linked with Question No. 24, in the name of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner). I certainly had no objection to my question being linked with that of my hon. and learned Friend. However, on today's Order Paper, my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow (Mr. Newens) had tabled Question No. 12, which was reached. That question is almost identical to my own question, No. 24. My question was not linked with that of my hon. Friend the Member for Harlow. While I appreciate the difficulties that you face, Mr. Speaker, I would be obliged if you could ensure that there is fairness between the treatment that different Government Departments give hon. Members. Perhaps you will look into this matter and ensure continuity and uniformity of practice in the linking of questions.
The hon. Gentleman and the House will know that I do not have responsibility for the grouping of questions. I shall, of course, look into this matter, but a variety of attitudes are adopted because different Departments take different views.
§ Mr. David Winnick (Walsall, North)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Perhaps I can raise with you a matter on which you ruled previously today. It relates to points of order arising from Question Time. As I understand the position, it is not your wish — and it is perfectly understandable—that points of order should arise during Question Time itself, because that would obviously shorten the time available for questions. However, perhaps you will give further cansideration to your wish that points of order that arise from Question Time should be taken only at the end of statements, private notice questions, and so on.
Perhaps I may give one illustration. Today there was a wish to raise points of order immediately after Prime Minister's Question Time, arising from the lack of a statement on Northern Ireland. Had those points of order been taken then, at least the Prime Minister would have been present. Is it your general wish that this should happen, Mr. Speaker? Will you give the matter further consideration? I believe that hon. Members should have the opportunity of raising points of order arising from Question Time.
The hon. Gentleman has drawn my attention to an important point. I see a difference between what I call general points of order, such as the two about which I was given notice today, and those arising directly out of Question Time. I shall, of course, give further consideration to the matter and make a brief statement on it tomorrow.