HC Deb 09 July 2002 vol 388 c740
50. Julie Morgan (Cardiff, North)

What plans he has to propose to the Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons that there should be time limits on speeches in all debates in the House. [65350]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Privy Council Office (Mr. Ben Bradshaw)

My right hon. Friend will make further suggestions to the Modernisation Committee on time limits for speeches. In his earlier memorandum, he suggested that there could be advantages if debates were shorter in length but greater in number. That would imply shorter speeches.

Julie Morgan

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. Does he agree that 10 minutes is perfectly adequate for hon. Members to make all the points that they wish? A general 10-minute time limit would give more hon. Members the opportunity to take part and thus end the frustration of sitting in the Chamber for many hours without being able to contribute except through interventions. Will he look into that?

Mr. Bradshaw

Yes. That is an excellent point. You already have discretion, Mr. Speaker, under Standing Orders to set a time limit for speeches. As a radio journalist, I was taught that one should be able to make one's point in 40 seconds. I am not expecting hon. Members to be able to do that, but I hope that they can be much briefer.

Mr. Douglas Hogg (Sleaford and North Hykeham)

Will the Minister consider introducing proposals to ensure a reduction in prolixity in questions and replies during Question Time and statements?

Mr. Bradshaw

The right hon. and learned Gentleman must forgive my ignorance. I assume that the question dealt with the length of questions and answers. If so, I agree with him. Questions and answers as well as speeches are invariably far too long.

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