HC Deb 09 June 1986 vol 99 cc19-20
26. Mr. Winnick

asked the Lord Privy Seal if Her Majesty's Government plan to bring forward any changes in the arrangements for Ministers to answer questions in the House.

Mr. Biffen

No, Sir.

Mr. Winnick

Would it not be appropriate for the Government Chief Whip to be able to answer questions so that he can try to explain and justify the disgraceful way in which Tory Members acted last Thursday night? Is it not the case that the Government Chief Whip has been requested to appear before the 1922 Committee? Quite a number of Conservative Members have publicly denounced the antics of their colleagues. How can the Conservative party declare itself in favour of free speech and the rest when it gags free speech in the House of Commons?

Mr. Biffen

I have already dealt with this matter at some considerable length on the first question that was put to me this afternoon. There are no plans to have the Chief Whip on the question roster. That would require the agreement of the usual channels and. at the moment, I have no indication that that will be forthcoming.

Mr. Stokes

Will my right hon. Friend make no changes whatever in the way in which Ministers answer questions in the House as, surely, it is the most distinctive contribution which this House makes, which is very much better than many other Houses of Parliament in other countries?

Mr. Biffen

That is an extremely helpful supplementary question and I shall try to reciprocate by giving rather better answers.