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Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:35 am on 18th June 2015.

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Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Shadow Leader of the House of Commons 10:35 am, 18th June 2015

I thank the Leader of the House for announcing next week’s business, which includes, in particular, the Adjournment debate we will have next Monday on stone theft. After the events of the past few months, we on the Labour Benches have been wondering where our election stone has got to.

I, too, offer my congratulations to all those colleagues who have just been elected to chair Select Committees. They do an extremely important job in this House. I add my commiserations to those who were unsuccessful. Given that my own nomination process is over now as well, I can safely say that MPs are now free to roam the Corridors completely undisturbed.

Later today the report on options for the restoration and renewal of Parliament will be published, and I understand that the recommendations will all have significant and expensive implications. Will the Leader of the House tell us how he will ensure that the whole House has a chance to discuss and debate the way forward?

I note that once again there is no reference to English votes for English laws in the future business, but rumours continue to abound that we will be discussing Government plans as early as next week, so can the Leader of the House assure me that we will have adequate time to discuss and debate these important proposals, and will he tell us when that is likely to be?

The Greek debt crisis poses a serious threat to Europe’s economy, including that of the UK. With the Greek central bank now warning of a “painful” road ahead and no sign of a solution, what contingency plans exist to protect the UK economy from the effects of a Greek exit from the eurozone? Will the Leader of the House arrange for the Chancellor to come to the House and report on the outcome of the meeting of EU Finance Ministers in Luxembourg today?

After last week’s breathtaking U-turn in the Bavarian Alps , the Prime Minister is now in full retreat on the European Union Referendum Bill. We have had complete confusion over the referendum date. First, the Prime Minister said it could coincide with next year’s elections, but this week he was forced to back down at the last minute because he knew he had lost his majority. We still do not know whether Eurosceptic Cabinet Ministers will be able to campaign for an out vote—something I believe the Leader of the House will want an answer to, at least some time soon.

Finally, on Tuesday, after frantic whipping and a desperate letter from the Minister for Europe begging them not to rebel, no fewer than 27 Back Benchers, including five former Cabinet Ministers, voted against the Government. After that sorry spectacle, will the Leader of the House tell us whether the Government have already conceded our amendments on today’s amendment paper? May we have a debate on the complete chaos that has characterised the Government’s flagship Bill? I was thinking about watching the new film “Jurassic World”, but if I want to see a bunch of dinosaurs tear each other apart I might as well stay and watch his Back Benchers.

This week we marked 800 years since the signing of Magna Carta and the origin of the rights we enjoy today. Although some of its clauses, such as those on the return of Welsh hostages and the removal of fishing weirs from England, have been somewhat overtaken by events, this country’s commitment to basic rights and freedoms remains a proud part of our heritage and crucial to our future. As the nation celebrated at Runnymede, will the Leader of the House tell us why the Prime Minister chose to mark the anniversary by reaffirming his intention to scrap the Human Rights Act? Will he tell us why the Prime Minister has rejected the advice of his previous Attorney General, Mr Grieve, who said that scrapping the Act will undermine human rights across Europe?

I know that the Prime Minister could not tell us what Magna Carta actually meant when he appeared on “Letterman” three years ago, but he would be wise to pay attention to the lessons of history now. Magna Carta came about because the King fell foul of pushy, rebellious barons who would not accept his authority. After it was signed, the King ignored it and kept going back on his word. It took his death from a surfeit of peaches and the accession of a new young King to finally quieten the rebels. After the Chancellor’s impressive debut at Prime Minister’s questions yesterday, if I was the Prime Minister I would be worried, and I would certainly stay well away from any peaches.