Select Committee on Procedure Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Letter from Mr Crispin Blunt MP to the Chairman of the Committee


  Attached is a letter mistakenly sent to a Conservative MP by Gillian Merron, PPS to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and passed to me. I raised it during the oral question session referred to.

  It is an example of the Government being caught asking itself questions which is a practice that has gone on far too long. Despite the measures proposed by your predecessor Committee in 1989-90 and implemented by the House, Paragraph 11 of their Report is still true today.

  I think it is possible to address it and may I offer your Committee a proposal.

    (A)  1 week's notice of question.

    (B)  Questioner to support case for question by note of up to 200 words.

    (C )  Question order to be selected by a Speaker's Committee from first 20 questions selected by ballot.

    (D)  Speaker's Committee to rank questions balancing topicality, national importance, constituency importance, questioner's expertise and inversely number of previous selections and the probability of questions on selections holding government to account.

    (E)  Questioner to be allowed up to three supplementaries and two further supplementaries may be called from elsewhere.

    (F)  Official Opposition able to table a question day before and this question will be taken first, with three supplementaries from questioner and as many further supplementaries as the Speaker deems appropriate.

  I know the above is cumbersome and no doubt capable of improvement. However, it increases topicality and will put a premium on issues of constituency or national importance and give individual backbenchers a proper public opportunity to follow through a line of questioning.

14 February 2002

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