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Standing Orders (Public Business)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:18 pm on 22nd October 2015.

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Photo of Mark Spencer Mark Spencer Conservative, Sherwood 2:18 pm, 22nd October 2015

I think we are getting to the point, frankly, where things are getting a bit silly. Clearly, issues about Crossrail will be discussed. The Government make big decisions on Crossrail and other infrastructure projects, and it is ridiculous to suggest that we should exclude any person who is not affected. The same argument could be applied to HS2—that unless HS2 goes through an MP’s constituency, they should not get a say on it.

A number of big issues such as health and education have been devolved, and my constituents fully understand that I, as the Member of Parliament for Sherwood, do not get a say in the devolved Administrations on those issues. That is fine; I am all for devolution. I think it is a really good idea to devolve those powers lower down the structure, but there has to be balance and fairness to the whole process.

Let me deal with the Speaker’s role in the process, as a number of Members have alleged that this means the politicisation of the Speaker’s role. We should recognise that the Speaker is already in a position where such decisions have to be made. He has to decide, for example, which amendment is going to be selected and which is not—and these amendments are often highly politicised. This week has provided a good example in that we have had three urgent questions on the steel industry. The Speaker had to decide whether to accept those urgent questions, notwithstanding the fact that they came with a political slant to score political points. We are blessed with a Speaker’s Office that can make those decisions impartially. We may sometimes disagree with a decision, but it is made impartially and the Speaker’s Office has proved that it is perfectly possible to make those decisions without getting drawn into party political issues.

I am conscious of the time, so let me conclude by saying that it is clear on the doorsteps of Sherwood that this is about balance, fairness and giving English MPs an ability to manage English matters once and for all within England.