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Question Time

Volume 524: debated on Thursday 3 March 2011

3. What recent representations he has received on the consequences of the timing of Question Time in the House for the conduct of Committee business; and if he will make a statement. (43621)

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has received no specific representations on this issue, but he and I are happy to receive such representations from Members. The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the Procedure Committee is looking at the issue of sitting hours, and he may wish to contribute to that inquiry in due course.

I am a firm believer that Question Time and statements should be in prime time, and that Committees should not meet at the same time. We have a classic example of that not happening today. We will have a statement at 3 o’clock despite the fact that the Order Paper states that “Ministerial Statements (if any)” will take place after 11.30 am. Will the Deputy Leader of the House explain why people such as me—I am serving on the Education Bill Committee today at 3 o’clock, on a three-line Whip—will be unable to come here to participate? Why has that happened?

First, Committees as a rule do not meet during Question Time in the Chamber, but obviously, it is not always possible to avoid a clash with statements. However, the same applies to consideration of Bills and all other business. Hon. Members sometimes have to make difficult choices on their priorities.

On the timing of business today, it is very important that, on one of the rare occasions when one of the minority parties has an Opposition day, we do not take up all the time available to it with a statement. That is why you, Mr Speaker, chose 3 o’clock today as an opportunity for that statement.