Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:35 am on 17th September 2015.

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Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 10:35 am, 17th September 2015

May I start by welcoming Chris Bryant to his new position and echo his words of tribute to his predecessor, Ms Eagle? I said in the House last week that she brought a certain style to business questions. We will miss her. She has gone on to an interesting portfolio. I wished her all the very best last week and echo the hon. Gentleman’s words this week. I very much enjoyed debating with her.

The hon. Gentleman and I were born in the same year, share the same name and were elected to this House on the same day. Notwithstanding his comments, we both agree that his party’s defence policy would be a danger to the security of our nation.

I also echo the hon. Gentleman’s comments about Members’ shields in this place. Their names are rightly commemorated on these walls as having done great service for this country. They played a vital role in protecting its security. We should always remember and honour them. The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to refer to them.

Equally, it is also right to pay tribute to the victims of terrorism whose names are commemorated on the walls of this House, and to state that we as politicians—every single person in this House should state this, although that is not always the case—stand united against terrorism. It diminishes this House when that is not the case.

The hon. Gentleman referred to the debate on the statutory instrument two days ago. I actually agree with him. I think we should have had five days of debate on the changes that we discussed this week, and we did—as changes announced in the summer Budget, they were debated over five days, which is the right and proper way to deal with such issues. We take such issues seriously, and we provided the time to discuss them in the House.

The hon. Gentleman commented on the Immigration Bill, which has been published today. There will be extensive debate in this House, including in Committee and on Report, so I am absolutely satisfied that we will have adequate time for debate.

I remind the hon. Gentleman that one of the things we have done as a party in government is to provide much more time for the Members of the House to secure debates of their choice in their own time. I have just announced two sessions organised by the Backbench Business Committee on subjects of concern to Members. It is right and proper that we, as responsible stewards of the House, make time available for individual Members to secure the debates that they want.

I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his comments about the situation in Northern Ireland, which is a matter of great concern to all of us. I send very best wishes, as I am sure do Members from both sides of the House, to the Northern Ireland Secretary in her efforts to make sure that the situation is resolved as quickly as possible. I pay tribute to all those involved in stabilising Northern Ireland. The progress we have made must not be lost, and I sincerely hope that we can reach a resolution. I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his support.

I simply say to the hon. Gentleman that we will update the House on Northern Ireland as and when necessary. This Government will always take the view that if there are matters of sufficient seriousness, we will seek a recall of the House. Clearly, however, those matters have to be of sufficient importance for a recall to be considered essential.

The hon. Gentleman asked me about the Joint Committee. I simply say that I have noted the House of Lords motion, which we have considered and are considering carefully. I would also say, however, that the Standing Orders of this House really are a matter for this House.

The hon. Gentleman made comments about broken promises. I simply remind him that the biggest broken promise of the past 10 years was the previous Government’s promise that we would have a referendum on the Lisbon treaty. They tore up and ignored that promise, so I will take no lessons on broken promises from the Labour party.

I am slightly disappointed about today. Yesterday, we saw a new approach from the Labour party, with a public consultation about what questions should be asked in the House of Commons. The hon. Gentleman sent an email yesterday, or a message via Twitter—