Palace of Westminster (Removal of Crown Immunity) Bill

Private Members' Bills – in the House of Commons at 2:15 pm on 8th July 1988.

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Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means 2:15 pm, 8th July 1988

The Queen's consent has not been obtained. Therefore, I cannot propose the Question.

Photo of Joan Walley Joan Walley Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I give notice that I shall take up this matter urgently with the Leader of the House. To the best of my knowledge, I have complied with the procedures. I have written to the relevant Departments. I have asked them to take up the matter to get the Queen's Consent. Today, I was most surprised to receive a letter from the Public Bill Office, stating that the last instruction that was received from me was to suspend application. That is not the case. I intend to seek application. I wonder whether there is even a conspiracy to stop the Bill coming forward. [Interruption.]

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means

Order. The hon. Lady is taking a wise action.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I listened carefully to what my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Ms. Walley) said about the Bill. Are we to understand that the dilatory behaviour of the Palace is preventing the House from debating an important measure to protect the conditions of staff employed in this building and to give them the conditions that they would enjoy anywhere else?

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means

Let me help the hon. Gentleman if I can. It is no reflection on the Palace, as the hon. Lady knows. An application is made to a Minister, and the hon. Lady is perfectly entitled and right to take the action that she now proposes to take.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Are we to understand that the slothful behaviour of the relevant Ministers is preventing the Palace consenting to the Bill being debated?

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means

It has nothing to do with the Palace. I think that I have explained the situation. The hon. Lady knows exactly the procedure that she is now to adopt.

Photo of Joan Walley Joan Walley Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I have written to the Secretary of State for Employment. There seems to have been some mix-up between the Public Bill Office and the Secretary of State for Employment. As my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) quite rightly pointed out, the people who work in the House—those who work in the canteens and everyone else—deserve proper public protection. I intend to pursue the matter.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means

I shall answer the hon. Lady, because she is quite right in pursuing the matter in the way that she is.

Second Reading deferred till Monday 11 July.

Photo of Dennis Skinner Dennis Skinner Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee, Party Chair, Labour Party

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I heard my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, North (Ms. Walley) say that there is a complication with regard to the matter being progressed. You, Madam Deputy Speaker, said that it was not the fault of anybody at Buckingham palace. We now find out that it is not the Minister's fault. I want to know whose fault it is. It is time that misleading replies were ended. If it is not the fault of the Palace or of the Minister, let us get on and pass the Bill so that people here on poverty-stricken wages can have a fair deal.

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means

The hon. Lady is taking action to see that that is done and that her position is preserved.

Photo of Jeremy Corbyn Jeremy Corbyn , Islington North

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I understand that the Bill is coming back for a Second Reading on Monday. Could the Ministers who are present at the moment ensure that, by Monday, it is clear to the House that we are in a position to debate the Bill to allow a degree of protection of employment for staff in this building similar to that which they would enjoy anywhere else?

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means

It is not a matter for the Chair. There are Ministers on the Treasury Bench. The hon. Lady is doing absolutely the right thing in preserving her position at this time.