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Procedure of the House

Part of Business of the House (24, 25 and 26 March) (No. 2) – in the House of Commons at 12:55 pm on 26th March 2015.

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Photo of Zac Goldsmith Zac Goldsmith Conservative, Richmond Park 12:55 pm, 26th March 2015

I pay tribute to my hon. Friend Mr Walker, who delivered an extraordinarily moving and powerful speech, and I would like to put on the record my unbounded admiration for my right hon. Friend the Member for Richmond (Yorks) (Mr Hague), who knows the high regard in which I hold him on a range of important issues. I am disappointed, however, that his last act appears, on the surface to the very least, to be underhand. I have to ask myself, “What is the point of having a Procedure Committee, when it is completely ignored on an issue of procedure?”

For my part, I am conflicted. I can see very strong arguments in favour of the motion, but I want to hear those arguments, and I want to hear them from members of the Committee, who have looked into this issue at great length. With just a few hours’ notice and just one hour of cramped debate, that simply will not be possible. So we have what looks like an ambush and the sense that we are not resolving a procedural issue of Parliament, but punishing the incumbent.

For the record, I fully understand the Government’s impulse. As a Back Bencher trying to hold the Government to account over the past four and a half years, the incumbent has made my job much easier. He is a reformer and a champion of Parliament. If a new Government form after 7 May, I suspect they will find the Speaker just as awkward as this Government have done, and that is as it should be. So Mr Speaker, in opposing the motion, I am opposing not the motion but the manner in which it has been brought to the House. I hope it will be returned after the election.