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Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:33 am on 14th January 2016.

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Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 10:33 am, 14th January 2016

First, may I endorse the shadow Leader of the House’s words about the Scottish Secretary? As a colleague of his, I am very proud of the statement he made yesterday. I also send the good wishes of this House to the people of Indonesia, after this morning’s dreadful terrorist attack. I also wish you, Mr Speaker, a happy birthday for next week.

I also wish to thank you, Mr Speaker, and all the Clerks for the work you all did to ensure that the first England and Welsh Grand Committee, held under the new Standing Orders, passed smoothly on Tuesday. In our manifesto we committed to introducing English votes for English laws, and we have now delivered that. Those of us on the Government side of the House thought—I suspect that you did, too, Mr Speaker—that it was a tad ironic that the longest contribution we heard in that debate was from Pete Wishart. His claim that he was being excluded from the debate seemed a little on the hollow side.

I remind hon. Members that the Joint Committee considering the restoration and renewal of the Palace of Westminster is currently consulting Members and staff who work in the Palace, with a closing date of 26 January. There will also be consultation with members of the Committee and Members and staff in both Houses. I encourage any Member with an interest in the project to take part in the consultation.

Let me now turn to the shadow Leader of the House. Today we have heard another seven-minute rhetorical flourish from the hon. Gentleman, with his usual wit and repartee. But what on earth does he think he is doing? He represents Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition. Last week, on the day that Kim Jong-un announced that he had developed a hydrogen bomb, the hon. Gentleman was joined at the shadow Cabinet table by a shadow Defence Secretary who believes that we should unilaterally disarm our nuclear defences. He sits alongside a shadow Chancellor who attended an event with the organisation, CAGE, which has claimed that Jihadi John was a “kind and beautiful young man”.

The hon. Gentleman works for a man who sacked Mr McFadden for having the effrontery to criticise terrorists. Over the past week, we have seen several more junior members of his Front Bench have the courage to stand up to a situation that most people in this House regard as utterly distasteful and wrong. They gave up their places on the Front Bench while the hon. Gentleman and more senior people clung on to their jobs. So it is all very well his coming here on a Thursday morning and cracking a few jokes, but I have a simple question for him: given the disgraceful turn of events in the Labour party, what on earth is he still doing here?