Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:36 am on 28th May 2015.

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Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Shadow Leader of the House of Commons 9:36 am, 28th May 2015

I thank the new Leader of the House for announcing next week’s business, and I would like to congratulate you, Mr Speaker, on your re-election last week. I concur with the remarks you made yesterday in welcoming all new Members, congratulating Members who held their seats and commiserating with former colleagues who were defeated. As you rightly said, Mr Speaker, politics can sometimes be a bruising experience.

This is the most diverse Parliament ever, with a record number of women, LGBT, black and ethnic minority Members. The Parliament also contains those from other minorities such as the Liberal Democrats. I note—[Interruption.] Well, apparently they are not here at all, but I am sure everyone will get what I mean. I note that in the race to elect a successor to the former Deputy Prime Minister, Liberal Democrat candidates need the backing of 10% of their MPs. That should be easy, as by my calculations one Liberal Democrat currently constitutes 12.5%, and apparently they can nominate themselves.

Yesterday’s Humble Address was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It was a legislative programme couched in fluffy soundbites, barely disguising a triumphalist Thatcherite agenda. The Prime Minister had the temerity to promise a one nation approach just weeks after he ran the most divisive election campaign in years, pitting one part of the UK against another. He claimed in his legislative programme that he would help working people get on, but his plans amount to a shamelessly partisan attack on workers’ rights and representation. As Her Majesty’s official Opposition, we will look beyond the rhetoric to the reality of this Queen’s Speech and hold this Government to account.

Today’s written ministerial statement from the Leader of the House listed the Bills announced yesterday. I thank the right hon. Gentleman for giving us the details of the length of the Session and the sitting dates, but we do not yet know what the mysterious Bill is that we are due to discuss on Thursday 11 June. Will he enlighten us now—or at least tell us when he will make that announcement?

On 9 June, I note that we are to debate the Second Reading of the European Union Referendum Bill. The Prime Minister has been desperately flying around European capitals trying to conduct negotiations on reforms that he has so far failed to specify in any great detail. Will the Leader of the House tell us whether the Government have already ruled out treaty change as an option, because it has been dismissed by European leaders? Will Eurosceptic Cabinet Ministers such as himself be allowed to remain in government if they campaign to leave the EU against the wishes of the Prime Minister?

I would like to welcome the new Chief Whip to his place. I see that he has already broken the bad habits of his immediate predecessor by actually deigning to turn up for business questions. I hope the new Chief Whip will be as effective in his job as the last one was!

I also welcome Chris Grayling to his new post. Given that an eagle is a predator and a powerful emblem used by countries across the globe, I thought I would honour the right hon. Gentleman’s arrival by looking up what a grayling is. The dictionary defines it as “a small grey fish frequently used as bait”—[Laughter.] With that in mind, I look forward to working with him.

I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman has learned many lessons from his time as Justice Secretary that he can apply in his new brief: tougher sentences for repeat offenders could be applied to the recidivists already lurking on the Government Back Benches; he is well acquainted with those pesky peers because they have defeated him so many times already; and given his record on banning books in prisons, I just hope he is not let anywhere near the House of Commons Library.

As we get business under way, we are all coming to terms with the election results. Apparently, with the Chancellor having promised to give Lynton Crosby a proper French kiss if the Tories got a majority, he has managed to deliver only a desultory peck on the cheek. This is, I am sure, one of the first of many broken Tory election promises.

The leader of the Green party has achieved her dream of making it to Parliament by taking a job as a junior researcher. The Scottish National party has taken to trying to occupy our Front Benches, but I think SNP Members have taken quite enough seats already!