On a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I seek your guidance. An earlier point of order was made on the vote we hoped to have on the abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board—Lords amendment 41 and subsequent measures. A large number of hon. Members wish to ensure that this House, even though it has debated the matter under the Public Bodies Act 2011, expresses its view, rather than the decision being made in another place. The House—the democratic House—should have an opportunity in the Chamber to debate and make a decision on the abolition of the AWB. What opportunities do Members of the House have to express a view on that measure, rather than expressing a view on it when it is conglomerated with other amendments?
Further to that point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. I do not intend to delay the House, but I sympathise with Andrew George, who feels strongly about the matter. I have sought advice from the Clerks, but I am not clear. I might be mistaken, but I understand that, should the Secretary of State or his representative on the Treasury Bench choose to raise the matter even in objection to Lords amendments, they would give the House an opportunity to express its view on the matter once and for all. It is annoying that we have no opportunity to debate the abolition of the AWB, but to have no opportunity even to vote on it is a double indignity. Can you advise the House on that, Mr Deputy Speaker?
Further to that point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. This group of amendments also includes the first statutory regulation of the press since the late 17th century. For the House of Commons to be unable to vote specifically on such a major constitutional issue seems to me to deny our constituents their right to maintain freedom of speech in the country at large, and I hope that you will find some procedure—and the Clerks, in their wisdom, will find some precedent from the early days of Parliament—so that we may vote on this motion.
I thank the hon. Members for the point of order, but if you do not know of a precedent, Mr Rees-Mogg, it is probably not worth knowing. I am a servant of the House and I am directed by
Lords amendments 1 to 34, 39 and 41 to 120 agreed to, with Queen’s Consent signified to amendment 71 and Commons financial privileges waived in respect of Lords amendments 64 to 66 and 104.
Motion made, and Question put forthwith (
That Jo Swinson be the Chair of the Committee;
That three be the quorum of the Committee.
That the Committee do withdraw immediately.—(Mr Swayne.)
Question agreed to.
Committee to withdraw immediately; reasons to be reported and communicated to the Lords.