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Standing Orders (Public Business)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:10 pm on 22nd October 2015.

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Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Home Affairs) 3:10 pm, 22nd October 2015

I have respect for the hon. Gentleman and am grateful for the extra time that he has given me, but he did not demonstrate great respect for Lord Hope of Craighead in the way that I would suggest that noble gentleman deserves. Let me remind the House of what Lord Hope, a former justice in the Supreme Court and Lord President of the Court of Session for many years, said:

“I do not see how a Government can rely on legislation passed by this new procedure, which is subject to the risk of challenge in the courts, until the procedures have worked their way through the courts.”

He went on:

“The point is that so long as there is the risk of challenge, and the delay of waiting for the courts to resolve the issue, the legislation cannot be brought into effect, because of the risk of having to unravel everything if, by some mischance, it is declared to be invalid.”—[Hansard, House of Lords, 21 October 2015; Vol. 765, c. 762.]

There must be an answer to that point before we go down the road that the Government invite us to take today. As I said, I believe that England deserves better than this. If this is the major issue of the day, as Government Members have said, surely England deserves better than something that can be turned over in an afternoon by a future Government. If Members on the Government Benches genuinely want to empower their communities—I enjoin them to do so—they should do it in the way in which we were required to do it in Scotland and get together to build consensus and decide among themselves exactly what is required.

It seems to me that the Government have made these proposals in the way that they often do, on the basis that something has to be done. Those are the most dangerous words we will ever hear in Parliament and they normally precede something along the lines of the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. Something needs to be done, but that something should be better than this and I invite the House, when we divide today, to at the very least support the amendment in the name of the hon. Member for Nottingham North.