Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:13 am on 10th December 2015.

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Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 11:13 am, 10th December 2015

At least we know that if unfortunate circumstances arise in the Rhondda the hon. Gentleman can return to his old career in the Church.

May I start by congratulating the hon. Gentleman on his award by ITV Wales as MP of the year? I give him my warm congratulations—and I am sure the award will be very well received on his own party’s Benches. May I also say to Members on both sides that I hope everyone is aware of the call for evidence from the restoration and renewal Committee? It has been circulated to all Members, and a number of informal discussions and drop-in sessions will of course be held while the Joint Committee does its work. I know that the shadow Leader is doing that work with Members on the Opposition Benches, and I am doing so with Members on the Government Benches. The call for evidence is designed to invite responses from any Member who has an interest in these matters, and I encourage everyone to take part.

On the comments made by Donald Trump, let me make two things clear. First, I believe the Muslim community in this country is a valuable part of our community and that it is made up of decent, hard-working, law-abiding citizens who have nothing to do with a tiny extremist sect within the Islamic world that is threatening deeply unpleasant things not only to the people of this country but to Muslims in the middle east as well. I utterly reject any suggestion that our Muslim community is to blame for the terrorist threat the world faces. But I also say in relation to Donald Trump that I believe it is better to deal with this in a democratic debate, and for us to reject those views absolutely and to make it clear to everyone that such views have no place in a modern society.

On mesothelioma, I will take a look at the issue the hon. Gentleman raises; I have every sympathy with the view that it is a dreadful disease and I will take a look at that point.

On the Housing and Planning Bill, I am not sure that he was listening to my statement, because I announced the first of two days of debate for its Report stage and Third Reading. He will therefore have plenty of time to debate these matters.

The hon. Gentleman talked about being late for Department for Work and Pensions matters, but I noted last week that the Leader of the Opposition was late for the wind-ups in the Syria debate—perhaps the most important debate of this autumn session. After the shadow Foreign Secretary had started his speech it was a good five minutes before the Leader of the Opposition shuffled in, so I do not think I would talk about lateness if I was on the hon. Gentleman’s side of the House.

On student finance regulations, the hon. Gentleman is well aware that if he wants a debate on a regulation in this House all he has to do is pray against it. I am not aware of any recent precedent where a prayer made by the Leader of the Opposition and his shadow Cabinet colleagues has not led to a debate in this House. The hon. Gentleman will be well aware that that is a simple process.

On airports, I am sure that when a decision has been taken—it has not been at this moment in time—I will discuss with my colleagues how we can bring the right information to this House.

I have a couple of other points to make. I echo the words to the happy couple; we wish them well for this weekend.

Let me finish by talking about the justice system. I am very proud of what this Government have done on the rehabilitation of offenders. My right hon. and learned

Friend Mr Clarke started the work and I continued it, as the Lord Chancellor is doing. Today, if someone goes to jail for less than 12 months, they receive 12 months’ support after they have left. Under the Labour party, people were released with £46 in their pocket and left to walk the streets without necessarily having anywhere to go, and with no support and no guidance—no nothing. I will therefore take no lessons from the shadow Leader of the House about legacies in the justice system—I am very proud of mine. He talks about the ludicrous criminal courts charge, but I just remind him that he voted for it.