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Points of Order

Volume 552: debated on Wednesday 31 October 2012

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. It has not escaped the notice of this member of the Procedure Committee—and I doubt that it has escaped yours—that during topical questions to the Secretary of State for International Development, two of the questions were put by Front-Bench spokesmen and neither of them was topical in its content. There is a grave danger, is there not, that the whole purpose of topical questions might be undermined if they are monopolised by Front-Bench spokesmen instead of Back Benchers?

What I would say to the hon. Gentleman is that I always keep a beady eye on these matters. I will reflect carefully on what he has said. It has been a practice of long standing for Opposition Front Benchers to come in to an extent, but there is a balance to be struck and I am very happy to consider whether that balance is right. I accept the point of order in the spirit in which it has been volunteered to the House by the hon. Gentleman, who is a member of the Procedure Committee and who is now, I think, the most senior member of the Panel of Chairs.

I am not sure that there is a further to that point of order, but we will take the hon. Gentleman’s point of order nevertheless.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. There are reports that film moguls are going to be allowed to use Big Ben. Could you ensure that Members of this House will be able to vote on that decision if it is made?

The hon. Gentleman is usually keenly attentive to his chances to contribute to debates in the Chamber. May I suggest to him that the debate on the Floor of the House on 8 November might be a suitable opportunity for him to seek to catch my eye or that of the occupant of the Chair at the time? He will then be able to develop his thoughts on this matter in full detail.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Might it be possible to place in The House magazine an article, perhaps written by the Clerk, on the importance of using the third person singular, rather than “you”, in this House? This is not just fussy parliamentarianism, but a very important point that allows us to exchange the most bitter views without making them personal. We should not “you” it, but make references in the third person. We should not throw away what is quite an important protection for us. We can be friends outside the House whatever anger we have in this Chamber, provided that we keep it to the third person.

I appreciate the support of the right hon. Gentleman and think that his point is valid. I will reflect on his particular suggestion. Certainly, if there is to be an author, it is scarcely conceivable that there could be a better author than the person whom he has just identified.

If there are no further points of order and the appetite for them is exhausted and the Clerk is suitably complimented, we can move to the 10-minute rule motion.