§ Mr. William Price
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I refer you to the reply which the Prime Minister gave to Questions Nos. 1, 5, 9 and 11? This is a matter of some importance to back benchers. In the past the present Leader of the Opposition always gave figures on specific subjects and of letters received. In fairness to the Prime Minister, one must say that for the first 15 months of his term of office he did so, too, but he now says that it is not possible to break down these figures.
Is the fact that the Prime Minister claims that these figures are no longer available going to preclude hon. Members from asking such questions? Is it not time that back benchers had some protection from the arrogance and determination of the Prime Minister to answer nothing?
§ Mr. Scott-Hopkins
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I draw attention to the fact that in 40 minutes of Questions we got through precisely 22 Questions.
§ Mr. Scott-Hopkins
Yesterday, in 55 minutes, we got through just over 30. There is no doubt that there has been a considerable slowing down in the number of Questions answered. Whether that is because of the length of supplementary questions, or the amount of them, I know not. That matter is in your hands, and it is your responsibility, but it is rapidly becoming not worth while to put down Questions unless one can get them in at the beginning. There is no hope of an 2075 Oral Question being answered unless it is in the first 20, particularly on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Could you, therefore, look into the matter with the appropriate authorities, to see what can be done to speed up the number of Questions answered, particularly on Tuesdays and Thursdays when the Prime Minister answers at 3.15.
§ Mr. Speaker
This is a matter for the House. Today I deliberately allowed a considerable number of supplementary questions on the Question relating to Northern Ireland, because I thought it was in accordance with the wishes of the House that I should do that. I also allowed rather more than the usual number of supplementary questions relating to probation officers, again because I thought that that was a matter in which many hon. Members were interested. The fault today, to some extent, was mine, but I am certain that the hon. Member's general observations will be noted.
§ Mr. Lipton
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I give notice, in view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply that I shall get to Question No. 40—