§ Mr. John Home Robertson (East Lothian)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, of which I have given you prior notice. My point concerns Question Time. You will have noticed that the Government have recently transferred overall responsibility for forestry policy from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to the Scottish Office. The Table Office has, therefore, been directing hon. Members who represent English and Welsh constituencies to table their questions on United Kingdom forestry policy to the Scottish Office, and two of my hon. Friends have, rightly, done so today.
I put it to you, Mr. Speaker, that this administrative transfer from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food to the Scottish Office could impose an intolerable strain on the time available for Scottish Office questions. Would it be possible—indeed, would it be in order—in view of the situation for a Scottish Office Minister to be present in the House during Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food questions to answer questions on United Kingdom forestry affairs?
§ Mr. Donald Stewart (Western Isles)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I draw your attention to the fact that of the Scottish questions today, three were from hon. Members representing English constituencies and one was from an hon. Member representing a Welsh seat? While I entirely agree that they are within their rights according to the odd usages of this place, do you agree that representations should be made for Scottish questions to return to being answered one week in three instead of the current one week in four?
§ Mr. Harry Ewing (Falkirk, East)
Further to the point of order, Mr. Speaker. My hon. Friend the Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) has raised a real difficulty. If we find, as we monitor this matter—as we are in the early stages of this transfer, it will have to be monitored — that it inhibits the proper scrutiny of the abysmal mess that the Scottish Office is making of the Scottish economy and everything else, we shall want to return to the subject.
§ Mr. Malcolm Bruce (Gordon)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. The number of questions in which English Members participate—I refer not just to the questions on forestry today — suggests that Scottish Question Time should be extended. Will you take account of suggestions recently made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale (Mr. Steel), that Scottish questions could usefully be added to some meetings of the Scottish Grand Committee in Edinburgh? That might also serve to reduce the number of English Members participating in Scottish questions.
§ Mr. Speaker
That illustrates the difficulty about this issue. It is not one for me. This is a legitimate matter, and it should be taken up through the usual channels.