HC Deb 18 November 1986 vol 105 c450 4.18 pm
Mr. Tony Banks (Newham, North-West)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I do not want to delay the House very long. We have just had an important statement, but some statements these days are of the "small fire in a chip pan" variety. Yesterday, an important announcement was made by way of a planted written question on the Arts Council's budget, something which has become a regular practice with the Government. The Arts Council's budget will suffer a real cut in terms of the money that it is to receive from the Government. I asked whether this issue could be the subject of a private notice question today—

Mr Speaker

Order. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not disclose discussions about private notice questions.

Mr. Banks

I wish merely to mention that, Mr. Speaker, because I wanted—

Mr. Speaker


Mr. Banks

In that case, Mr. Speaker, I do not want to mention that.

Would you not state, Mr. Speaker, that it is wrong for the Government to make an important announcement that interests many thousands, which we read about in the newspapers today in which aroused a great deal of interest, by means of a planted written question so as to dodge their responsibility to defend the decision that has been made at the Dispatch Box'? Surely, Mr. Speaker, you must say that it is a practice that you do not condone.

Mr. Speaker

I do not recognise this planted question issue. I do not give reasons for turning down private notice questions, but if the hon. Gentleman reads the answer to which he has referred, he will see that it concerns the Arts Council's budget for 1987–88. It would seem that there is reasonable time to discuss these matters before then.

Mr. Andrew Faulds (Warley, East)

Further to that point of order, may I simply, to save time, say, "Ditto, ditto," to everything my hon. Friend has said?

Mr. Speaker

I shall say, "Ditto, ditto," too.