The House yesterday agreed a report from the Procedure Committee recommending that, if there is a Secretary of State in the House, then on one Thursday every month, when the House is sitting, 15 minutes should be set aside for three oral questions to the Secretary of State immediately following the existing 30 minutes for oral questions. Where there is more than one Secretary of State in the House, as there is at the moment, they would answer questions on different Thursdays within any given month.
As Lord Brabazon of Tara, the Chairman of Committees, put it: “The proposal at the moment is that the two departmental Secretaries of State should answer Questions in this House on their departmental responsibilities – as far as I can see, that means the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, on transport and the noble Lord, Lord Mandelson, on almost everything else.”
The first of these Secretary of State question times will be on Thursday, 14 January, when Lord Adonis will be at the dispatch box, and on Thursday, 21 January, when Lord Mandelson will be answering.
Lord Brabazon also reported that no firm proposal has yet been received from the Commons regarding the possibility of Secretaries of State who sit in the Lords answering questions in the Commons or in Westminster Hall.