POINT OF ORDER – QUESTIONING MINISTERS – 30 November 2011
Dr Julian Lewis: On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I am sure that hon. Members on both sides of the House appreciated the almost unprecedented opportunity you gave them yesterday to interrogate a senior Cabinet Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, at considerable length. May I ask whether that innovation is a practice that is likely to recur with any regularity?
[Mr Speaker: I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. Each case is, of course, considered on its merits, but what I would say to him and to the House is twofold. First, I am always keen to ensure that as many Back-Bench Members as possible should have the opportunity to question Ministers of the Crown. Secondly, as the House will be conscious, I am insistent that statements of policy should first be made to the House of Commons, not outside it. There have been notable breaches of that established protocol and they are a source of concern. To the hon. Gentleman, I say explicitly that yesterday I was particularly keen to ensure a full airing of the issues, not least because I wished to hear whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer had anything to say in the Chamber that he had not already said in the media. I hope that that response to his point of order satisfies the hon. Gentleman's curiosity.]