HC Deb 17 March 1981 vol 1 c199
Mr. Bob Cryer (Keighley)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You may recall that in reply to question No. 1, to the Secretary of State for Defence, the Secretary of State made an extremely long answer, which seemed to cause you concern. When a Minister uses that sort of opportunity to make what is, in effect, a statement, that reduces Question Time and also reduces the further opportunities for questioning Ministers through avoiding the need to make a statement. I wonder, Mr. Speaker, whether you could indicate your concern that whenever Ministers have an important statement to make they should do so by way of a statement and not use the means of a planted question for oral answer in order to avoid that responsibility.

Mr. Speaker

A question that comes out No. 1 in the ballot can hardly be a planted question in the sense that the House understands it. It is true that I discourage major statements being made in answer to questions when that takes a long time. We spent seven minutes on question No. 1 which reduced the time that could be spent on other questions.

Sir Frederick Burden (Gillingham)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. Did you notice that the hon. Member who raised this point of order was asking questions from a sedentary position throughout the whole of Question Time, as he does on every conceivable occasion?

Mr. Speaker

I am much obliged to the hon. Gentleman. This gives me an opportunity to remind the House that shouting from a sedentary position is quite unparliamentary, and that while the House is accustomed—[Interruption.] I do not know which hon. Member made that remark, but it was very ill-mannered. The House is accustomed to displays of emotion. None the less, we destroy our own democracy if Members have to fight constantly to have a chance to be heard within the Chamber.

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