Sittings of the House (Wednesday 17 April)

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 9:22 pm on 16th April 2013.

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Photo of Andrew Lansley Andrew Lansley The Leader of the House of Commons 9:22 pm, 16th April 2013

I am sure that Paul Flynn was present for Defence questions yesterday, and heard the Minister of State,

Ministry of Defence, my right hon. Friend Mr Francois, pay tribute to the recently fallen.

I am grateful to the shadow Leader of the House, Ms Eagle, for what she said earlier. It put me in mind of a caller to “Any Answers” on Radio 4 on Saturday, who said that, in his view, it was not a matter of whether one supported or opposed what Margaret Thatcher had done, but a matter of understanding what was proper, decent and respectful in relation to someone who had clearly been of immense importance to the country. Indeed, the hon. Member for Newport West said in the debate last Wednesday that history would judge her to have been a great Prime Minister.

The hon. Lady asked about the date of prorogation. When she is able to tell me that we have completed all the business whose completion is required in the current Session, I shall be able to tell her the date of prorogation, but I cannot do so until then.

No one would accuse Mr Skinner of having changed, but what did change was this country under Margaret Thatcher. Moreover, at each of the elections in 1979, 1983 and 1987 she was returned with an increased vote from the people of the country. That was another change.

George Galloway asked the House to search for a consensus. I am not sure that anyone has ever established a consensus with the hon. Gentleman. However, in the midst of a litany of false analogies and irrelevancies, he did say one relevant thing. He said “That is what we are here for: to be here.” I have to say to the hon. Gentleman and the House that since his election on 30 March last year, he has been here for just 13% of the votes.