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Question Time

Volume 504: debated on Thursday 21 January 2010

23. If she will bring forward proposals to amend the procedures of the House to prevent hon. Members who have secured a question for oral answer by a Minister from also asking a topical question to the same Minister at the same Question Time. (312139)

When it recommended the introduction of topical questions, the Modernisation of the House of Commons Committee concluded that Members should not have to choose between the two types of question. I understand the hon. Gentleman’s point, but the Procedure Committee might have to consider the matter further based on the number of Members called on both substantive and topical questions at the same Question Time.

Under the old system, for an hour’s Question Time to a particular Department, each Member of the House got one chance to ask a question. Under the present procedures, some Members get to ask two questions, while others are frozen out altogether. Given the interest of the deputy Leader of the House and her boss in issues of equality, would she be kind enough to look seriously at that?

It would be for the hon. Gentleman to make representations to the Procedure Committee if he wanted to have a change. Members feel that topical questions are quite a good opportunity to raise a question without notice, and they have proved to be one of the most popular innovations, so the issue is difficult. The Leader of the House is not responsible for the fairness of the shuffle, but this issue might be something for the Procedure Committee to look at.