HC Deb 07 March 1994 vol 239 cc21-2 3.30 pm
Mr. Simon Burns (Chelmsford)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I should be very grateful for some advice on whether you are prepared to look into the operation of the rules concerning the use, for satirical programmes, of recordings of proceedings in the House. I should like to know whether recordings may be used other than in factual programmes such as the BBC's "Today in Parliament" and "Yesterday in Parliament".

Madam Speaker

The hon. Gentleman obviously has some programme in mind, and I am not a mind reader. I am not refusing his request, but in the first instance he should refer the matter to the Supervisor of Broadcasting.

Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)

Further to that point of order, Madam Speaker. I may be able to assist you and the House by suggesting that the hon. Gentleman is probably referring to a programme called "Party Pieces", which is broadcast by Capital Radio.

Madam Speaker

"Party Pieces" is nothing to do with me.

Mr. William Cash (Stafford)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Standing Order No. 127 deals with the Select Committee on European Legislation. May I, as a member of that Committee, ask you to give some thought to the fact that discussions will take apparently place tonight concerning papers under article O, dealing with the question of enlargement of the blocking minority? It appears either that, under Standing Order 127, there is no provision for such matters to be referred for scrutiny, or that matters that ought to have been referred have not been. I should be grateful if you would give some thought to a potential black hole in our scrutiny arrangements, and ensure that matters of such vital importance are capable of being drawn to the attention of hon. Members, either on the Floor or in Standing Committee.

Madam Speaker

It sounds to me as if the hon. Gentleman may have a complaint about the procedures of the House. I shall, of course, look into the matter, to see whether it is an issue for me.

Mr. Bryan Davies (Oldham, Central and Royton)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. I appreciate that it is your concern that there should be balanced discussion during Question Time. Would it be possible on occasion to call consecutive questions from Opposition Members, especially when, as during questions to the Department of National Heritage today, important matters such as the film industry and football are being dealt with? No Conservative Member showed the slightest interest in those important topics today.

Madam Speaker

The hon. Gentleman will have to leave to my discretion the question of who should be called, during Question Time as well as during debates.

Mr. Michael Fabricant (Mid-Staffordshire)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. Given the charm and the swiftness with which you conducted Question Time today, as well as the grave discourtesy of Opposition Members who did not turn up to put their questions, and given that, if it had not been for the fact that, had we reached 3.30, we should have run out of questions, might it be necessary to increase to 40 or 50 the number of questions on the Order Paper?

Madam Speaker

The hon. Gentleman has the wrong impression. We should not have run out of questions; we should have returned to questions to the Department of National Heritage.

Mr. Fabricant


Madam Speaker

Order. Of course I consider it a discourtesy if I am not informed when Members or Ministers are not to be present. Today, however, I was informed of a number of hon. Members who would be absent. The hon. Gentleman may not have been aware of that.

Mr. Ian Bruce (South Dorset)

On a point of order, Madam Speaker. As we now seem to be moving very swiftly through questions, and as that seems to be very much for the convenience of the House, would you wish publicly to give any indication of how many times you intend to call the Leader of the Opposition during Prime Minister's questions? It seems to us that, when one considers the way in which the questions are laid and when the Leader of the Opposition knows that he is going to be called three times, they are spread out to ensure that there are enough to keep going for three questions.

Several hon. Members


Madam Speaker

Order. I do not need any help with this.

As I told an hon. Gentleman earlier, I think that such matters might be left to my discretion. I am very pleased about the pace at which we are proceeding. It is important that hon. Members are called, and it is equally important that the Executive are held accountable. I want to see that that happens.

Mr. Dennis Skinner (Bolsover)

I think that you could also say, in response to the argument that the Leader of the Opposition has three bites of the cherry at Prime Minister's Question Time, that, in a very short time, Conservative Members will be glad that a Tory Leader of the Opposition has the same chance.

Madam Speaker

I think that we will now proceed to the debate on building societies.