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Opposition Time

Volume 13: debated on Monday 23 November 1981

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34.

asked the Lord President of the Council if he has any proposals for the reapportionment of Opposition time in the conduct of business of the House.

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons
(Mr. Francis Pym)

The apportionment of time allocated to the Opposition is primarily a matter for them and for the House as a whole. The Select Committee on Supply (Procedure) recently proposed in its first report that the present system of Supply days available to the Opposition should be replaced by the introduction of a number of Opposition days and Estimates days. I hope there will soon be an opportunity for the House to debate these recommendations.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply, but does he not feel that, in the light of the disintegration of the Labour Party and the realignment of the Socialist parties, he should at least keep an eye on the situation?

I am sure that the House should keep an eye on it, and I am sure that the House will. It is important that the Opposition should have their due amount of time in the House. This is a basic part of our procedure. I think that it was the general view of the House that there should be a re-examination. This has now taken place. I hope that there will soon be an opportunity for a debate.

May I remind the Lord President that the only party that has actually lost hon. Members as a result of a parliamentary election since the last general election is the Conservative Party? In the light of that it may be appropriate to consider whether there should be less Government time rather than less official Opposition time.

I do not think that we have done too badly. There are other opportunities, which may or may not be taken.