Business of the House

– in the House of Commons at 9:40 pm on 17 March 2003.

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Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Parliamentary Secretary (Privy Council Office), Deputy Leader of the House of Commons 9:40, 17 March 2003

With permission, Mr. Speaker, I should like to make a short statement about the business for tomorrow.

There will now be a debate on Iraq on a Government motion. The business for the remainder of the week will remain unchanged and there will be the usual statement on Thursday.

May I say how sorry I am that my right hon. Friend Mr. Cook is not making this statement? I hope that the whole House will join me in paying tribute to the outstanding contribution that he made as Leader of the House.

Photo of Eric Forth Eric Forth Conservative, Bromley and Chislehurst

May I echo the Minister's words about Mr. Cook?

I very much welcome the statement. It is right that we debate the matter tomorrow. Will the Minister confirm, however, that the debate will start at 12.30 pm and continue until 10 o'clock, when the votes will be held?

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission

Order. This is a business statement. The time for the hon. Gentleman to raise that issue has passed. Perhaps he will catch my eye tomorrow.

Photo of Mr Simon Thomas Mr Simon Thomas Plaid Cymru, Ceredigion

May I associate Plaid Cymru and the Scottish National party with the Minister's comments on the former Leader of the House?

Tomorrow's vote will be desperately important and many of us will want to oppose the Government. Although they are not legally bound to pay attention to the vote, will the Minister give an undertaking—an assurance—that the Government will be honour bound to pay attention to it? If so, every Member's vote will count, and it will therefore be a real vote on whether we should go to war or not. Will he also give an undertaking that if the vote goes against the Government, they will not go to war?

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Parliamentary Secretary (Privy Council Office), Deputy Leader of the House of Commons

The Government have bent over backwards to honour their commitments to the House and I am confident that they will do so again tomorrow by giving the House an unprecedented opportunity to express its will.

Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling Shadow Minister (Health)

Will the Minister tell the House whether the Prime Minister will lead the debate tomorrow and how much time he will spend in the Chamber?

Photo of Ben Bradshaw Ben Bradshaw Parliamentary Secretary (Privy Council Office), Deputy Leader of the House of Commons

Yes, the Prime Minister will lead the debate tomorrow. I do not know how much time he will spend in the Chamber, but I suspect that it will be a lot.

Photo of Michael Martin Michael Martin Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission

I have a statement that may help the House.

The Secretary of State invited me in the course of his statement to specify a time by which amendments to the Government's motion on Iraq must be submitted. Members who want their amendment to appear on the Order Paper tomorrow morning must, of course, table it before the House rises tonight, but I will consider for selection any amendment that is submitted in good order before 10 am tomorrow.