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

I doubt very much that the attention of the nation will be on the Liberal Democrat conference next week. Indeed, I doubt very much that the attention of most Members of the House will be on the Liberal Democrat conference next week. I say to the hon. Gentleman that the job of Members also involves working in their constituencies. I suspect that next week, most Members of the House will be found not glued to the speech of Tim Farron, but doing valuable work in their constituencies. I assume that the same will be true of Scottish National party Members, although they do have MSPs who do most of the work in their constituencies, so I can understand if they feel a bit under-occupied. Perhaps they will think of tuning in to the speech of the hon. Member for Westmorland and Lonsdale.

The hon. Gentleman referred to the anniversary tomorrow of the Scottish referendum. The Scottish National party still has not quite come to terms with the fact that the Unionists won the referendum and the people of Scotland chose to remain within the United Kingdom. Every week is a bit like groundhog day with the hon. Gentleman as he talks about the tension between England and Scotland and—rather nonsensically, because it is not true—about our apparent attempt to turn the SNP into second-class Members. Of course, if he read the detail, he would know that that is all total nonsense. They simply have not come to terms with the fact that the people of Scotland—very wisely, in my view—voted for the United Kingdom and not against it.

The hon. Gentleman referred to the composition of the Joint Committee on Human Rights and the fact that it is balanced equally between the Commons and the Lords. I simply say to him that that is because it is a Joint Committee. It would hardly be a Joint Committee if all its members were Members of the House of Commons.

I appreciate that he would like to change many parts of this place, but the workings of a Joint Committee have been in place for a long time, and they represent a balance between both Houses of Parliament. That is not something that we intend to change.

Finally, it has always been the policy of this Government, the coalition Government, and the Labour party in government, that if a sufficiently serious matter occurs, this House—subject to your consent, Mr Speaker—will be recalled. That has happened many times over the years since the hon. Gentleman and I were elected to this House, and it will not, and should not, change. The three weeks that lie ahead are an important part of our political calendar and give people time to do valuable work on behalf of their constituents. I know that is what most Members of the House will be doing.