Debate on the Address — [1st day]

Part of Outlawries Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:02 pm on 4th June 2014.

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Photo of David Davis David Davis Conservative, Haltemprice and Howden 7:02 pm, 4th June 2014

Drugs already have their safety protocols established by the time they are put in front of NICE, so safety would not be a problem. In an article the other day, Professor John Waxman cited the use of drugs for those with prostate cancer who are going to die. The drugs are for the extension of life, not complete rescue.

Safety is not an issue but the use of such drugs affect the prospects of life for people with terminal diseases, so they are well worth using.

Finally, I would like to make a constitutional point, precipitated by the comments of my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesham and Amersham, on collective responsibility. One of the most contentious issues in the past year or two within and outside the coalition has been a referendum on the European Union. Last year, of course, the Conservative party, in effect, introduced a private Member’s Bill. Why did that happen? Although there are approximately only 60 Liberal Democrat MPs on the Government Benches, both sides of the coalition have an effective veto on introducing legislation. That is entirely improper and undemocratic. Let us take my example of the referendum Bill, although the problem does not just apply to it. If there is an argument inside the Government, why not let the House of Commons decide by putting the Bill to the House of Commons? After all, we no longer accept that a vote lost in the House of Commons will lead to a fall in the Government. That is explicitly prevented in the Fixed-terms Parliament Act 2011, so why not put such things to the House? When we go into the next election, people would then be able to see exactly how everybody voted and we would no longer be relying on the promises of parties, but on their actions. Something has gone wrong in the structure. It may well be something in the civil service or the original coalition agreement, but if we are going to have a proper coalition, it should be more open than closed. It should give more power to the House of Commons, not less. If we did that, it would really make this an extraordinarily good Queen’s Speech.