HC Deb 02 December 1997 vol 302 c152
29. Mr. Rendel

What assessment she has made of the advantages of introducing time limits on Front-Bench responses to statements. [17120]

The President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mrs. Ann Taylor)

I have not considered any changes to the House's rules on this, but I know that you, Madam Speaker, have often called for shorter questions and shorter answers, both on statements and at Question Time.

Mr. Rendel

Has the right hon. Lady noticed that the main spokesperson for the official Opposition seems to be taking longer and longer to reply to statements and that that not only makes it difficult for the Minister, who has to try to remember all the questions to answer, but tends to leave less time for spokespersons from other parties and for all Back Benchers? Will the right hon. Lady consider what to do about this in the Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons?

Mrs. Taylor

I have some sympathy with the hon. Gentleman. There have been occasions when the official Opposition have taken a very long time, but there are of course times when a statement is complex and detailed questions have to be answered. However, I think that we could probably improve the situation.

Mr. Dalyell

Is this not actually a matter for the Speaker? Is there not a precedent in the fact that Mr. Speaker Selwyn-Lloyd on one famous occasion simply told the official Opposition that enough was enough?

Mrs. Taylor

Madam Speaker, it might be better if I left that to you.