HL Deb 11 March 1970 vol 308 cc805-6

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

[The Question was as follows:

To ask the Leader of the House whether he is aware of the recently established convention whereby it seems to have become incumbent on every speaker to express the thanks of the House to the mover of a Motion and whether he agrees that this practice detracts from the composition of each speech by monopolising the opening sentence: that in a long debate constant repetition of an almost identical sentence becomes tedious; and that with Parliamentary time at a premium it is the initiator of a debate who should be grateful to the House for listening to him, rather than the other way about.]


My Lords, I am aware of the growth of this practice. I think your Lordships are inclined to favour brevity if it is not achieved at the expense of courtesy. While, therefore, I could criticise the length of the noble Lord's Question, and his use of this Question as a medium for arguing a case—in this instance to the extent of over 100 words—I am inclined to agree with him that thanks should be given only when thanks are due.


My Lords, would the noble Lord the Leader of the House give us his views as to whether the convention of a Member thanking a Minister for answering his question might not also be abandoned? I have never heard a Minister thank the questioner. It is quite unnecessary that the questioner should thank the Minister who is, after all, only doing his job.


My Lords, I am much inclined to agree with the noble Lord. I would say that on those occasions —and there are occasions—when thanks are due to Ministers it would be appropriate to give them, but not on those occasions where it is not relevant.


My Lords, is my noble friend aware that on Questions we get long ministerial Answers, which give rise to long supplementary questions, and that the time of the House could be saved there?


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord the Leader of the House whether he realises how indebted we are to the noble Lord, Lord Denham, for putting his Question?


My Lords, I am not called upon to rule: I do seek occasionally to restrain the enthusiasm of my ministerial colleagues, but not always with complete success. It is, of course, admirable that Ministers should be anxious to give to your Lordships all the information in their possession, but no doubt there is a certain interplay which leads to the abuse of Question Time.