Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 6th December 1990.

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Photo of Dr Jack Cunningham Dr Jack Cunningham Chair, House of Commons (Services): Computer Sub-Committee, Shadow Leader of the House of Commons 3:31 pm, 6th December 1990

Clearly, it would be totally inappropriate for me to criticise the Leader of the House about the length of the Christmas parliamentary recess. However, it is much longer than it would normally be. If there are any serious developments in the Gulf crisis, the Opposition would expect Parliament to be recalled, especially if any conflict were to develop.

Will the Leader of the House say whether it is his intention to meet his obligations under the Standing Orders and proceed to set up a Select Committee on Scottish Affairs? Is it not the case that, if any other hon. Member were in persistent conflict with the Standing Orders, action would be taken to correct the behaviour of that hon. Member? Although it is very unusual for the Leader of the House to be in persistent conflict with our Standing Orders, that realistically and accurately is the position in which the right hon. Gentleman now finds himself. He has a duty to establish a Select Committee on Scottish Affairs, and we urge him now to carry it out.

Will the Leader of the House confirm that, for the second time in this Parliament, we are to vote on the restoration of capital punishment? Is it not within the memory of the whole House that his right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary, when Home Secretary, indicated to the House that our previous decision on capital punishment would deal with that matter for this Parliament? Is it not clear that that was just a rash promise made at the Tory party conference and that that is the only reason why the matter is to come before the House?

Can we expect a debate on revenue support grant before Christmas? It is an important matter for all hon. Members, their constituents and local authorities. Will the Leader of the House ensure that his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment makes a report so that we can have the earliest possible indication of the poll tax levels that our constituents will have to face next year? When the right hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) makes that statement, will he explain to the House why, on 16 December 1987, during the Second Reading debate on the poll tax Bill, when I proposed on behalf of the Opposition that we should seek consensus on local government finance, the right hon. Member for Henley, who spoke immediately after me, rejected it outright and said that there was no hope of a consensus from Conservative Members? What has happened to make him change his mind?