Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab): On a point of order, Mr Speaker. In spite of your valiant and heroic efforts to improve the conduct in the Chamber and the standing of Parliament outside this place, we hit a new low today. Prime Minister’s Question Time was an unedifying spectacle of distortion, evasion and obfuscation. May I again suggest that you hold a seminar, especially for the Prime Minister, in order to explain the precise meaning of the words “question” and “answer”, and the need for a link between the two?
Mr Speaker: I thank the hon. Gentleman for his point of order. Today, it will suffice for me to say that I thought it was a very unedifying spectacle. It was as noisy as, if not more noisy than, I have ever known it. I ask right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the Chamber, as I have done many times over the years, to give some thought to the way in which our proceedings are regarded by the people outside this House whose support we seek and whom we are here to represent. Frankly, the behaviour of a very large number of people was poor, as the hon. Gentleman has indicated. Rather than dwelling on it further today, let us aspire, and take steps at all levels, to ensure that it improves in subsequent weeks. That is a responsibility of every right hon. and hon. Member, from the person most recently arrived to the longest serving Member,
11th July 2013 Andrew Lansley: Buisness of the House.
May I say a word about Prime Minister’s questions? I listened very carefully, Mr Speaker, when you responded to a point of order from Paul Flynn, and of course I absolutely agree with everything you said. In the context of what happened this week, I think that, as you rightly pointed out, the public expect high standards of us, but they also expect Prime Minister’s questions, in particular, to be pretty robust. When the public out there listen to the House, sometimes they hear something that is a bit different from just the noise level in the Chamber, and that is okay—that is fine.
However, this week, if I may say so in agreement with you, Mr Speaker, the noise was excessive and it will have had an adverse impact on the public because it will have made it impossible to hear in the normal way the character of the answers that were being given and, indeed, sometimes the character of the questions being asked.