Standing Orders (Public Business)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:51 pm on 22nd October 2015.

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Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Shadow Leader of the House of Commons 12:51 pm, 22nd October 2015

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for bearing in mind that I voted for you. However, I do take your stricture seriously, because I think that it applies to self-important Members as well.

Seriously, it is a real shame that the Leader of the House did not even bother to lay out what his measures will do, but there is a reason for that. Let me start first with four very simple principles. First, Government must be by consent, which means that no state should abrogate to itself decisions that could more properly be made closer to those whom they most affect. That is why I support devolution to and within Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is also why I support England having a clear and distinctive voice in this Parliament. For that matter, I also believe that power, responsibility and finance need to be devolved further within England, because we are, and have been for far too long, a very centralised state.

My second principle is that I passionately support the Union. It is in the best interests of my constituents and of all our constituents. I know that the people of this country agree with that—not everyone, but the vast majority. That is why I will do nothing that will undermine or imperil the Union. It has stood us extremely well through war and depression and in sickness and in health.

My third principle is that all MPs are equal. We all arrive with an equal right to speak, and to make our constituents’ voices heard. In the old writs of return for Members, it was called the full power—plena potestas—to debate, agree, legislate and tax. Overturning that equality of all Members, which has stood the test of 800 years, is a big step to take.