HC Deb 21 July 1980 vol 989 cc22-3
33. Mr. Winnick

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he is satisfied with the current arrangements for Question Time.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

These are matters for the House. Our procedures at Question Time have, however, been the subject of regular review by Committees of the House over past years.

Mr. Winnick

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the matter of Prime Minister's Question Time? As many hon. Members put down questions which are not answered, is there not a case for considering an extension of 10 or 15 minutes to the time during which the Prime Minister answers questions?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister would be delighted to have a further period for answering questions, because she always scores so successfully against the Leader of the Opposition and the various deputies who appear from time to time. We had a report on this matter in 1977. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has said that she will be happy to retain questions which are addressed to her, but nearly all the questions addressed to her now are open questions.

Mr. Marlow

I wonder whether it would be a helpful idea if in future the first three specific questions to the Prime Minister were always asked as a matter of course before going on to the open questions. In that way, if hon. Members wanted to ask the Prime Minister specific questions, the ballot might ensure that they had the ability to do so.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

That is an interesting and characteristically constructive suggestion by my hon. Friend. I shall certainly consider it.

Mr. Cormack

In view of the interest in the country in the views of the Opposition, could we have a quarter of an hour a month during which the Leader of the Opposition could answer questions from Conservative Members?

Mr. St. John-Stevas

That is another interesting suggestion, and I shall ponder it.