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John Bercow: Prime Minister's Questions should last an hour

Emilio Casalicchio

2 min read

John Bercow has said he wants Prime Minister's Questions to double in length to an hour.

The Commons Speaker said MPs needed “injury time” to take account of the numerous disruptions in the noisy chamber.

Under reforms brought in by Tony Blair, PMQs begins at noon every Wednesday and lasts for half an hour.

But Mr Bercow regularly allows it to last for 45 minutes to let as many backbench MPs grill the Prime Minister as possible.

At an Institute for Government event in central London today, he said he would “very much” favour the session being an hour long.

He said tributes paid by the Prime Minster at the start of the session should not come out of parliamentary time.

“The second point is that if there is quite a lot of disruption in the form of noise and I’m having to quieten people down… well I think there’s much to be said for having some injury time," he said.

Speaking to PoliticsHome after the event, Mr Bercow confirmed he would like to see PMQs given an hour-long slot on the Commons order paper.

He said: “It’s preferable to have something that’s formally agreed rather than just something that I do by personal choice.

"Of course the analogy would be with ministerial question times. A ministerial question time is typically an hour… personally I think that would be better.”

Elsewhere at the IFG event, Mr Bercow said it would be "very worrying" if the Government had decided not to force votes on Labour-led debates.

That followed the Conservatives' decision to accept non-binding Labour motions on NHS pay and tuition fees because they were set to lose the votes.

The Speaker said: "We are at an early stage in this controversy because it has welled up over the last 24 hours. I can't recall a recent example of what happened yesterday. Opposition day debates can be effective even without votes. And they can be effective on the basis of the passage of the votes.

"It seems to me it would be better for me to talk to the representatives of the Government and perhaps the opposition rather than to conduct a discussion through the columns of a newspaper or an internet source.

"But parliamentary votes do matter. And I think it would be a very worrying development if they were to be treated lightly or disregarded."

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