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