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Questions To Ministers

Volume 128: debated on Thursday 25 February 1988

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On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I genuinely mean no criticism of you, but on the Order Paper today there were 47 questions to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland of which 24 were from Labour Back Benchers. You will note that in the course of Question Time, which lasted three quarters of an hour, you were able to call only two Labour Back Benchers.

I do not complain about that, and I appreciate that you are circumscribed, Sir, to some extent by the fact that you feel obliged to call Members from constituencies in Northern Ireland, as well as Conservative Members and other Opposition Members. In so far as Northern Ireland's affairs are of great interest to members of the Labour party, may I ask that Opposition Back Benchers are given more time during Question Time to raise these important matters, as otherwise the debates in Question Time will be completely distorted and, without the contributions of my right hon. and hon. Friends from the Front Bench, unreasonable and unfair?

Order. I ask hon. Members to allow me to deal with one question at a time. I will certainly bear in mind what the hon. Member for Workington (Mr. Campbell-Savours) says. I hope that I deal fairly with all sides of the House, and if I have not done so, I shall review the position, as I do every day. However, whenever Front Bench Members rise, as the hon. Gentleman knows, that tends to reduce Opposition Back Benchers' opportunities.