§ Mr. Speaker
I have two statements to make. The first arises out of Question Time yesterday. After questions yesterday I promised to reflect on the interventions I had made in an effort to ensure that supplementary questions to the Prime Minister were confined to matters within her responsibility. In subsequent exchanges, the hon. Member for Warley, East (Mr. Faulds), in a helpful way, asked that we should revert to the practice whereby such supplementary questions were prefaced with some remarks which were relevant to the Prime Minister's activities on the day on which the question is put. I agree with this approach and would ask hon. Members to make it clear early in their question that the question concerns matters within the Prime Minister's responsibility.
So far as my rulings yesterday are concerned, I believe that my intervention in the question of the hon. Member for Gillingham (Mr. Couchman), which was about happenings in Manchester city council as reported in the Daily Telegraph, was correct. Subsequently, I intervened in a supplementary question by the hon. Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Eastham), which up to that point had consisted of a fairly lengthy preamble about the Japanese economy. I now recognise that that preamble was probably intended to lead to a question about this country's economy. In those circumstances, my intervention may have been over-hasty, although I should emphasise that its purpose was to try to make certain that supplementary questions were brief and in order and that hon. Members still hoping to be called would he given a chance to question the Prime Minister. In these circumstances, I hope that the hon. Member for Blackley will accept my apology. I will try, as I hinted yesterday, to compensate him in some appropriate way.
Having said that, I hope that I shall have the support of the House in my efforts to ensure that questions to the Prime Minister deal with matters for which she is responsible.
§ Mr. Ken Eastham (Manchester, Blackley)
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I thank you for your generous statement. A Back-Bench Member rarely receives a statement from the Speaker such as the one that I received today, and I will savour this occasion for many a long month.
§ Mr. James Couchman (Gillingham)
Further to that point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I also thank you for your consideration when you intervened on my question yesterday? I fully accept your judgment that I was out of order. I hoped to bring it round, and I hope that I may have a chance to ask the Prime Minister a question similarly in the very near future.
§ Mr. Andrew Faulds (Warley, East)
Sir, in respect of your statement, may I say how obleeged I am and how obleeged I am sure the House is?