Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:07 am on 22nd October 2015.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 11:07 am, 22nd October 2015

The hon. Gentleman mentioned anniversaries and he is right to say that we should celebrate all the work that the Gurkhas have done on behalf of this country. I think that he and the Leader of the Opposition will join me in recognising another, rather sadder anniversary today, as it is the 50th anniversary of the tragedy at Aberfan, a terrible event that led to the deaths of 116 children and 28 adults. It is a blot on our history and something that we should never forget. I hope that everyone in the House will remember those tragic events today.

The hon. Gentleman is, as we know, highly regarded among those on his Benches for his knowledge and understanding of the procedures of the House, so I am slightly mystified by his comments about tax credits and legislation. He will know that tax credits do not come within the scope of a Finance Bill, so I am a little puzzled by his assertion that we should have put the measure into a Finance Bill. He will also know that even if this House were to resolve to change that process, it would open up a range of additional questions about the role of the House of Lords and whether they should debate Finance Bills. I am surprised that he appears not to understand the processes of this House and I advise him perhaps to consult the Clerks afterwards who can put him right, I am sure.

The hon. Gentleman raised the issue of tax credits more generally. It is, of course, a matter that has been carefully debated in this House and voted on twice by MPs in the past few weeks. The measure has been supported by the House twice and it is interesting that the deputy leader of the Labour party did not turn up to oppose the changes, which we believe should now go forward and be put into action.

I suppose we should not be surprised that there is a degree of uncertainty on the Labour Benches, because we have had some interesting reports about what is going on. A message is been passed to me from a person with a vested interest, as is often the case for the Leader of the Opposition. A member of the Labour party has said to me:

“Farce doesn’t begin to describe our position any more. It’s the political equivalent of all the slapstick staples rolled into one. The Three Stooges pie fight. Stan Laurel stuck up a ladder. The house collapsing on Buster Keaton.”

That is a message for me from Simon of Rochdale. You know, Mr Speaker, the people of Rochdale are wise and that is why, I think, they elected him as their Labour Member of Parliament.

The hon. Gentleman talked about steel. We are very clear. We are doing everything we can to support the steel industry in a difficult period for the workers and all those who live in those communities. We have looked at changing the rules on procurement. We are working to provide financial support. We are in discussions with the European Commission about what support we are able to provide. We have raised the issue of dumping with the Chinese this week. We will do everything we can to support our steel industry, but I remind the Opposition that it was when they were in government that steel output in this country halved, and manufacturing in this country almost halved as a share of our national income. Under this Government manufacturing is growing and the steel industry has held up in output terms and has employed more people, so I do not think we should take lessons from the Opposition as we work very hard to address an extremely difficult set of circumstances.

The hon. Gentleman raised questions about Sunday trading. That is a matter that will be debated in the House shortly.