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Backbench Business: Repeal of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (23 October 2014)

John Hemming: The hon. Gentleman is making the case for shorter Parliaments. The question is who should make the decision. Should the term be fixed or should the Prime Minister be given back the power to make the decision purely on party interest, thereby costing everyone a lot of money?

Backbench Business: Repeal of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (23 October 2014)

John Hemming: Why does the hon. Gentleman believe that the Prime Minister alone should be able to make that decision, rather than Parliament through a majority?

Backbench Business: Repeal of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (23 October 2014)

John Hemming: I thank the hon. Gentleman for the confirmation that it would be a party decision taken in the party interest. Should it not be a decision that is taken in the public interest?

Backbench Business: Repeal of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (23 October 2014)

John Hemming: Obviously, we have had fixed-term Parliaments for a long time; it is just that the Prime Minister had the power to call an early election. Who does my hon. Friend believe should have the power to decide to have an early election?

Backbench Business: Repeal of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (23 October 2014)

John Hemming: I thank my hon. Friend for his previous answer. He said the effective test of whether the Prime Minister’s decision to have an election was a good one was whether the Prime Minister got elected, and that the test was measured by the political party. In essence, such a decision is driven by the party interest, not the public interest.

Backbench Business: Repeal of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (23 October 2014)

John Hemming: rose—

Backbench Business: Repeal of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (23 October 2014)

John Hemming: I am sure that my hon. Friend agrees that a key priority of this Parliament has been to sort out the finances, but uncertainty creates greater instability in the financial markets. If we had to pay another 1%, it would cost us about 10 billion or more a year. Does he think that that is a reasonable price for the taxpayer to pay for giving back a power over general elections to the Prime...

Backbench Business: Repeal of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 (23 October 2014)

John Hemming: I share the hon. Gentleman’s concern about the power of the Executive. Does he agree that the constitution should be established in the best interests not of the Prime Minister, but of the country as a whole, particularly in circumstances in which we are having to borrow a lot of money on the money markets to fund the deficit, which means the stability that arises from the Prime...

Transparency and Accountability Bill (17 October 2014)

John Hemming: Anyone reading this debate may wish to refer to the speech I gave when I first put forward most of these proposals. I had more time to speak to them, so I spoke at greater length. I hope that that will inform people better,

Transparency and Accountability Bill (17 October 2014)

John Hemming: As I have said on a number of occasions, the media cannot afford to have someone in every family court. Does the Minister accept that media access to hearings is not, in itself, that big a thing?

Transparency and Accountability Bill (17 October 2014)

John Hemming: I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time. This is in a sense the Bill’s second outing. I had the impression from its previous outing that it would be allowed to get its Second Reading, but now I know that it will be talked out. That is rather sad, because in the long term the Government will regret not having adopted a number of the measures in the Bill at an earlier stage...

Transparency and Accountability Bill (17 October 2014)

John Hemming: I am not 100% certain that this Bill legally traps it, but that was the intention. I do not think that it is perfectly drafted, so we do not know—that is one of the difficulties with these Bills. Let us take some examples given by the Campaign for Freedom of Information. The information that the Information Commissioner has said does not have to be made available under FOI includes the...

Transparency and Accountability Bill (17 October 2014)

John Hemming: I thank the hon. Gentleman for correcting me. As the previous inquiry’s rapporteur, he will obviously have better knowledge than me. I have been told that there is a problem, so I will need to chase that up. I might visit his office for some assistance. That would be good. The Government have always got themselves confused on the flows and quantity of children in care. On compulsory...

The Chairman of Ways and Means took the Chair as Deputy Speaker (Standing Order No. 3) — European Union (Referendum) Bill (17 October 2014)

John Hemming: Article 9 of the Bill of Rights states: “That the freedom of speech and debates or proceedings in Parliament ought not be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Parliament.” Believe it or not, Brussels is a place. If we have a regulation rather than a directive, the regulation automatically overrides domestic law. Because the Bill of Rights was established as part of...

The Chairman of Ways and Means took the Chair as Deputy Speaker (Standing Order No. 3) — European Union (Referendum) Bill (17 October 2014)

John Hemming: It is a question of buyers and sellers. Normally, selling something is a bit harder than buying it. People will sell things quite happily, but it is one thing to sell to Germans in German and another to buy them in English. There is some difficulty with the idea that our exports would simply be taken as read. I do not accept that people so want to purchase our exports that they would do...

The Chairman of Ways and Means took the Chair as Deputy Speaker (Standing Order No. 3) — European Union (Referendum) Bill (17 October 2014)

John Hemming: Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland are members of the EEA but not of the EU. If we look at the pattern of different memberships, we find that some countries are members of the Council of Europe, but others are not. It is quite complex. The Vatican, for example, is a member of nothing, yet it can print euros. [Interruption.] Strange, isn’t it? But for whatever reason, Norway happens to be...

The Chairman of Ways and Means took the Chair as Deputy Speaker (Standing Order No. 3) — European Union (Referendum) Bill (17 October 2014)

John Hemming: This is my record of voting on the issue of referendums concerning the European Union. I rebelled in the vote on the Lisbon treaty: I voted for a referendum on that. I voted against the hon. Gentleman’s motion. I voted for the amendment to the Queen’s Speech calling for a referendum. I voted for the private Member’s Bill that was presented during the last Session, and I...

The Chairman of Ways and Means took the Chair as Deputy Speaker (Standing Order No. 3) — European Union (Referendum) Bill (17 October 2014)

John Hemming: Yes. That is the whole point. The Bill—which I am going to support, just as I supported the last Bill—says that there should be a referendum by a certain date, which puts pressure on the system to deliver change. The reason I voted against the hon. Gentleman’s motion is that I think we need to negotiate for change, because the system needs to change. I do not take the view...

The Chairman of Ways and Means took the Chair as Deputy Speaker (Standing Order No. 3) — European Union (Referendum) Bill (17 October 2014)

John Hemming: rose—

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