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 10:33 am on 17th December 2015.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Shadow Leader of the House of Commons 10:33 am, 17th December 2015

And he’s Cleverly enough to know it. Every single one of us knows it. EU citizens come here because we speak English, because there are jobs and because this is a great country. The Government are trying to undermine every single element of that, but even the Work and Pensions Secretary, the Home Secretary and the Justice Secretary have told the Prime Minister his proposal will make absolutely no difference to net migration figures. He is barking up the wrong tree.

So why do we not just get on with the referendum now? It is a simple question: in or out? Remain or leave. As Sir John Major said, flirting with an exit would be dangerous for this country. It is one thing to choose to leave—honourable, but in my mind foolish—but it would be quite another to end up leaving by accident. That would be incompetent and dishonourable.

I am absolutely delighted that the Leader of the House has given us the dates for the Easter recess, but could he extend a little bit to the Whitsun recess? I will give him the date of Whitsun: 15 May. Why can he not give us the recess dates for the whole of next year?

As Boxing day approaches, can I just ask for an assurance from the Leader of the House that the draft Hunting Act 2004 (Exempt Hunting) (Amendment) Order 2015, which was withdrawn earlier this year, is not back on the horizon? It is rumoured to be so in the press. Surely, if the Government want to bring back hunting they should be open and honest about it and not try to sneak it back in through the back door. Primary legislation, not secondary legislation.

With the new year coming up, may I suggest the Leader makes a single resolution? Will he please repeat after me? “I will always…” Come on. “I will always…” Oh dear. “I will always guarantee that all major announcements of Government policy are made to this House first and not leaked to the press. And if that guarantee is breached, I will resign immediately.” I thought the Prime Minister treated the House, and you Mr Speaker, with utter contempt last week when, after you said in this House that any announcement on the decision, the process of the decision, or even the process of the non-decision regarding Heathrow, Gatwick and airport capacity should be made in this House, the Prime Minister, that very afternoon, went out and made statements on the television. That was a gross discourtesy to this House and the Leader of the House knows it perfectly well. He should have excoriated the Prime Minister for that and he should do so every time he tries to do it again.

There are 36 written ministerial statements on the Order Paper today, conveniently on the very last day so as to avoid scrutiny. One of them is on a particularly serious matter, the Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, where the deaths of 1,000 people with disabilities and mental health problems were not properly investigated. The written statement will be made available only late in the day today, long after hon. Members will be able to quiz the Government about it. Again, that is a gross discourtesy to this House.

It is Christmas time—well, Advent—but Christmas is not as snug as it might seem in the adverts or carols. Jerusalem does not lie still. Not the hopes but the fears of all the years are met in her tonight and every night. Age UK points out that more than 1 million old people say they go for over a month without speaking to a friend, neighbour or family member over Christmas. Many people will overeat, but thousands of families will have to choose between heating and eating. The real Christmas story is about an unfair tax, a brutal dictator slaughtering innocents, a young unmarried woman giving birth in a stable and a family harshly forced into exile. All these things have been repeated in Syria in the last week alone, yet Christians dare to believe that in that story lies hope for the world. So I wish you, Mr Speaker, a merry, harmonious and hope-filled Christmas, and through you, to the Clerks, the Doorkeepers, the police, the catering staff, the cleaners and all who work with, in and for Parliament, and to our armed forces, our security services and all those who keep a watchful eye while we are merry, I say, in the words of your favourite Dickensian character, Tiny Tim, God bless us one and all.