HC Deb 21 February 1985 vol 73 c1218 4.35 pm
Sir Geoffrey Finsberg (Hampstead and Highgate)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I gave you notice that I wished to raise a point of order arising out of Prime Minister's Question Time today. Prime Minister's questions today, as on virtually every other Tuesday and Thursday afternoon, consist of the first question being repeated ad nauseam. This is a matter that could be examined by the Procedure Committee. When my hon. Friend the Member for Ludlow (Mr. Cockeram) began with a supplementary question on rising to his feet, you, Mr. Speaker, said, "No. Question No. 2." My hon. Friend then had to say, "Question No. 2." My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House had to rise and say, "I refer my hon. Friend to the answer that I gave a short time ago." That was done five times today.

Do you have discretion, Mr. Speaker, to ensure that that procedure is not repeated five times during the course of Prime Minister's questions? If it did not happen, at least two other Members would have a chance of asking a question. If the first seven questions to the Prime Minister are identical and it is decided merely to call those following on supplementary questions, that would be fairer to those who do not presently get a chance.

Mr. Speaker

I do not think that I have that discretion. However, if the hon. Gentleman feels strongly about this he should ask the Procedure Committee to consider it. When the Procedure Committee submits a recommendation, I shall consider it carefully.

Mr. James Lamond (Oldham, Central and Royton)

On a further point of order, Mr. Speaker. Although there are dozens of questions on the Order Paper for the Prime Minister to answer that are exactly the same, there is one that is not, which has been tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Linlithgow (Mr. Dalyell) concerning Conqueror and the General Belgrano.

Mr. Speaker

It happens that today most of the questions to the Prime Minister on the Order Paper are open questions. I share the concern of many who feel that this use of the Order Paper is perhaps not the right way to list these questions. I think that the Procedure Committee should consider the matter before I do anything about it.