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Volume 704: debated on Wednesday 22 October 2008

My Lords, before we proceed to the first Question I should like to say a few words about procedure at Question Time. We rightly take pride in being a self-regulating House, but it is helpful for us to be reminded of our normal customs from time to time. Self-regulation can only work if noble Lords in all parts of the House co-operate to make it work. The Companion makes clear that Ministers’ initial Answers to Questions should not exceed 75 words.

My Lords, they are on notice. The Companion also says that supplementary questions should be short, designed to elicit information rather than incorporating statements of opinion, and confined to the subject of the original Question. I am sure that the House will be delighted to know that I have reminded my colleagues on the Front Bench that answers to supplementary questions should also be concise. It is to the benefit of all Members of the House to keep questions and answers short. This will maximise the number of supplementary questions that can be taken in the 30 minutes available. I am sure that the House will find agreement with that.

My Lords, I think that the Minister forgot one thing: to remind his colleagues not to say “Well, my Lords”.

My Lords, I am not going to get into a debate about terminology, but I am sure that the House has heard the noble Baroness well and good.

My Lords, does the Minister realise what pleasure that statement has given? Everyone has thought that questions and answers are too long; and some Ministers courteously thank everyone for having asked a question, which of course is quite unnecessary. The fact that he has reminded noble Lords to be brief is of great benefit.