HC Deb 08 December 1986 vol 107 cc17-8
28. Mr. Gwilym Jones

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will give consideration to moving Welsh Question Time to a Wednesday for a one-hour duration on a four-weekly cycle.

Mr. Biffen

The rota for oral questions has been agreed through the usual channels. I have no proposal to alter it during this Session.

Mr. Jones

I think that my right hon. Friend, who was in his accustomed place earlier, might agree that today we have had a rather cramped run at Welsh Questions, which lasted for only 35 minutes. Does he accept that hon. Members from north and north-west Wales—most obviously my hon. Friend the Member for Ynys MÔn (Mr. Best)—have about the most difficult journey to get to the House for Question Time on a Monday? If he were able to accede to my suggestion, he would only be giving Welsh Question Time deserved parity with Scottish Question Time.

Mr. Biffen

Many hon. Members who live just as far away from Westminster as is the Principality were proud to stand for election on the basis that they would come here and do a day's work on a Monday. I understand the point that my hon. Friend has just made about Welsh Question Time. It has not always been made in its present form, but it is something to be considered through the usual channels when there is an opportunity to reconsider the rota.

Mr. Wigley

May I press the right hon. Gentleman further on extending Welsh Question Time to an hour? Today we managed to get only as far as question 14, and two questions were chopped and not dealt with properly. After all, the Secretary of State for Wales is responsible for education, health, employment, roads and local government in Wales. Given all the issues to which I have referred, we need more than 35 minutes to deal with them adequately.

Mr. Biffen

That is something that might fall to be considered through the usual channels when the rota is being reconsidered.

Mr. Greenway

Before any more time is given to Welsh Questions, and bearing in mind that there are only 36 hon. Members from Wales, will my right hon. Friend note that 84 hon. Members represent London constituencies? Should there not be a London Question Time before any more time is given to Wales?

Mr. Biffen

As the metropolis, I think that London would wish to be more evidently integrated into the United Kingdom than almost any other part of the realm.

Mr. Dixon

As well as considering the request that has just been made, will the right hon. Gentleman also consider allocating the hour that is given to Welsh Members on a Monday to the northern group of Members, who would willingly come along to put questions about their region, which, incidentally, has as many, if not more, problems as Wales?

Mr. Biffen

The hon. Gentleman merely underlines how wise I was to be so unforthcoming to my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff, North (Mr. Jones)

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