European Union Referendum Bill (Programme) (No. 2)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:02 pm on 7th September 2015.

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Photo of Alex Salmond Alex Salmond Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (International Affairs and Europe) 6:02 pm, 7th September 2015

I beg the hon. Gentleman’s pardon. These things take time. A few years ago, if someone had said that I would be a right hon. Member, I would have shaken my head as well, but who knows what will happen to him.

It is perfectly proper and reasonable to state that this is an inadequate timetable and to appeal to the best judgment of the Foreign Secretary to tell us that he has been persuaded by this eloquent speech to allow a proper length of time for discussion of these hugely important matters.

To facilitate the House finishing before midnight, Mr Speaker, I shall leave matters there—[Interruption.] Well, I could move past my introduction to say a few things more, but I shall say only that this is not a proper way to discuss a matter of such import. The Government have lost control of the timing of the referendum, they have lost control of the conduct of the referendum and they have been overturned on the referendum question, all in the space of the last few weeks. Their attempt to rush the Bill through this House has not served them well, and even at this last ditch, I think they would do well to consider coming back with a more adequate timetable. The Government might thereby serve the interests of the House, and probably their own interests, rather better than they have been doing.