HC Deb 25 July 1983 vol 46 c781
22. Mr. Chapman

asked the Lord Privy Seal when he expects to complete his consideration of a general review of procedure covering all aspects of the House's business.

Mr. Biffen

As soon as I am satisfied of the general wish of the House in this matter.

Mr. Chapman

Will my right hon. Friend take this as an earnest consideration that a Select Committee on Procedure should be set up, to which hon. Members could be invited to make suggestions or representations on any procedural matter, especially Prime Minister's Question Time and the method and format of considering Bills in Committee?

Mr. Biffen

The last occasion on which a Procedure Committee with general terms of reference was established was in 1976–77. I think my hon. Friend is entitled to suggest that we might consider the matter again. Should the House so resolve, I am certain that the topics he has mentioned would be very much at the heart of the Committee's considerations.

Mr. MacKenzie

Is the Leader of the House aware that there is a growing body of opinion on both sides of the House that Back Benchers are being denied the right to question Ministers on important matters of Government policy, because of the increasing use of the subterfuge of giving answers to written questions on such matters? Will he take this issue seriously, as oral questions are the only check that we have on the Executive? Ministers are dodging their responsibilities at the Dispatch Box by giving answers to written questions.

Mr. Biffen

I note the right hon. Gentleman's point. I am sure that a Procedure Committee with general terms of reference will want to consider the use of Question Time. I note that irritation has been caused today.

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