Years ago, when I deputised for the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Speaker Weatherill required participants in PMQs to accept that question time was a time for questions. Whenever I prepared to confront Margaret Thatcher - elation mixed with terror - my main concern was to get through the first half dozen words without my syntax, or even my intonation, creating the suspicion that the sentence was not interrogative. Standing behind the opposition dispatch box did not provide protection from the indignity of being told to sit down. The briefest preamble was ruled out of order.
Is Lord Hattersley's memory failing him? Or is mine? I cannot recall a single occasion when he questioned Margaret Thatcher at PMQs. Can anyone else? So far as I remember, whenever he deputised for Kinnock he faced either Willie Whitelaw, John Wakeham or Geoffrey Howe.
UPDATE: A commenter says he spoke at PMQs on 10th January 1985 and 18th February 1988. I don't know what the circumstances were, but this is interesting because if Margaret Thatcher was willing to take questions from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, perhaps Gordon Brown should have done so when David Cameron was away earlier this year.