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Speaker’s Statement

Volume 451: debated on Wednesday 1 November 2006

I wish to make a statement to the House about ministerial statements. A ministerial statement is an important aspect of Government’s accountability to Parliament, but to be effective the occasion needs to conducted efficiently so that as many Members as possible can contribute with direct questions. Following a recommendation from the Select Committee on Modernisation of the House of Commons in October 2002, the House agreed that, of the hour or so allotted to statements, the opening ministerial statement should last no longer than 10 minutes and that the reply from the official Opposition should be confined to five minutes. My view is that it is appropriate for the Liberal Democrats, or any other party, to be confined to three minutes. [Interruption.] I knew that I was being generous. The purpose of these restrictions, as the Committee made clear, is to give Back Benchers a fair chance to question Government Ministers on matters of public importance. I would expect Back Benchers to ask one supplementary question each. I am therefore informing the House that these rules will be adhered to in the new Session, so as to give Ministers the opportunity to make full statements to the House and be questioned effectively about them.