HC Deb 11 February 1982 vol 17 cc1113-4
Mr. George Cunningham (Islington, South and Finsbury)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I was very disturbed, I think last week, to notice in the Lobby a Conservative Member with a bundle of question forms in his hand, handing them out to Conservative Members.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

Who was the Minister?

Mr. Cunningham

It was not a Minister who was doing it.

There is a very long history to this practice. We all know that there is no chance whatever of totally stopping it and that in certain circumstances it is perfectly appropriate, but may I remind you, Mr. Speaker, that the House appointed a Committee on this matter in 1972? The present Home Secretary—the present Home Secretary— [HON. MEMBERS: "Wake up"]—the present Home Secretary was the Chairman of that Committee in 1972. Inter alia, the Committee looked into the question of planted questions. It deplored taking that practice to the extreme lengths to which two Conservative Ministers took it at that time. In the light of what happened this week and last week, it appears that the practice is stealing back in rather a big way. When the Prime Minister answers question, she comes out with what clearly must be a prepared statement. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to do what you can to stop it.

Mr. Speaker

The content of the Minister's reply is nothing to do with me. It would be wiser to have the Business Question.

Mr. Tim Eggar (Enfield, North)

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. As the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunnningham) has, by implication, referred to the question that I asked, are you aware that it was stated in the national press that I would be seeking to ask the Prime Minister a similar question?

Mr. Speaker

I did not see it in the national press, but I thought that I should give the hon. Gentleman the last few seconds of Question Time.