Grahame Morris MP raised a point of order this morning about the time limit placed on MPs who spoke in yesterday’s 90 minute debate about the latest Covid-19 restrictions in the North East, North West and North of England. MPs were only given 150 seconds to voice the concerns of their constituents.
On Wednesday 30th September, Speaker Lindsay Hoyle made a statement to the House before the start of Prime Minister’s Questions. He issued a stern warning to the Government to allow MPs a chance to debate policy change. He said that he was looking to the Government to stop treating Parliament with ‘contempt’, and to ‘remedy a situation I regard as completely unsatisfactory.’
Mr Morris addressed the Speaker this morning, and referred to his comments of 30th September. He said: ‘Can I draw your attention to the debate that took place yesterday, a public health debate, a 90 minute debate, covering restrictions in the regions of the North East, the North West, and the North of England.
Backbench Members had 150 seconds to hold the Government to account. The Government have endless time at the Despatch Box, in the media, but MPs have 150 seconds.
Mr Speaker, can I refer to your statement of 30th September before PMQs. In your opinion, sir – the Government’s handling and the opportunities they’re giving to Backbench Members – does that square with your advice given on the 30th?’
The Speaker replied: ‘The 90 minute limit for debate to which he refers is governed by Standing Order #16. However, it would be within the Government’s gift to vary this time limit by a separate Business of the House motion. That would be a matter for them, but not for me.
I do have sympathy for how many constituencies were affected. I recognise that if we did have more time it would allow Members in order to give their views and opinions, in order to help the Government be more informed. I hope that that will have been taken on board.’