HC Deb 28 January 1985 vol 72 cc18-20
34. Mr. Willie W. Hamilton

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will initiate an inquiry into the desirability of prohibiting smoking in all dining room places within the precincts.

The Lord Privy Seal and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. John Biffen)

No, Sir. I am not aware of any widespread demand in the House for a change in present arrangements.

Mr. Hamilton

Does the Minister recognise that there are ample facilities for smokers other than in the Dining Rooms? Does he further recognise that there is considerable inconvenience for non-smokers who have to sit beside smokers in the Dining Rooms? Will he treat the matter a little more seriously than he appears to be doing?

Mr. Biffen

I am happy to treat the matter seriously, because I understand how the hon. Gentleman feels. However, it is a matter for the Catering Sub-Committee, and I shall refer the hon. Gentleman's point to it.

Mr. Dalyell

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Should we not, in fact, have reverted to energy questions?

Mr. Speaker

Having dealt with Civil Service questions, we revert to the questions immediately before them. If we had run out of those, we would have reverted to energy questions.

Mr. Yeo

Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. I draw your attention to the fact that no fewer than 11 questions were bracketed with question No. 1 this afternoon. As a result, question No. 2 was not reached until nine minutes past 3 o'clock. Can you persuade Ministers to exercise some degree of restraint in the number of questions that are bracketed together so that we do not again have a similar position to today, when question No. 18 was answered but five questions standing higher on the Order Paper were not answered?

Mr. Speaker

The hon. Gentleman's question, No. 2, was reached, so I do not think that he has any cause for complaint.

I judged that it was the wish of the House today to give a fair run to question No. 1, which is a matter of major importance. I apologise to hon. Members whose questions were not reached, although I think that they will understand the special position arising today.