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Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:37 am on 3rd March 2016.

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Photo of Chris Grayling Chris Grayling Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 10:37 am, 3rd March 2016

I very much hope that we will win the Eurovision song contest under the Conservative party next year, with that great band, MP4, leading the charge for the nation.

In order to understand what does and does not work with fire drills, it is, of course, necessary to carry them out. Lessons will be learned from the experience earlier this week, but I extend my thanks to all of the Officers of the House who were involved in the fire drill. They will now work out how to make sure that our processes are appropriate and suitable for the future.

We will announce the date of the Queen’s Speech when we have decided the date of the Queen’s Speech. As always, Chris Bryant makes the mistake of believing that what he reads in the papers is what is actually going to happen. We will take a decision on the Queen’s Speech and we will announce it to this House, as usual.

We have to be mindful of the need to ensure the progress of business. The hon. Gentleman cannot have it both ways. It is somewhat ironic that, on the one hand, he asks, “Where are the recess dates?” while on the other he says, “This is a zombie Parliament with no serious business.” He is completely wrong. I have just set out plans for the Second Reading of the Policing and Crime Bill next week. That really important measure will restore a sensible balance to many aspects of our policing and justice system. I have also announced the Second Reading of the Investigatory Powers Bill, which will be crucial in enabling us to defend our country. If the hon. Gentleman thinks that that is a feature of a zombie Parliament, then frankly he does not know what the word “zombie” means.

May I echo the hon. Gentleman’s comments about the work done collectively by Members across the House, including by my hon. Friend Chris Heaton-Harris, on the issue of head injuries? I know how serious an issue it is. The Children’s Trust is situated in Tadworth Court, just outside my constituency, and it does a brilliant job in helping children who have had the most terrible experiences. The issue should be of concern to Members on both sides of the House. I hope very much that the Select Committee will pick up on the work that my hon. Friend and others have done and write a full report. The hon. Gentleman asked for a parliamentary investigation, and the best way to do that is through the Select Committee.

The Welsh affairs debate will take place later today. It was, of course, St David’s day this week, and I extend my good wishes to all Welsh Members of Parliament. I am looking forward to 5 May, when the people of Wales will have the chance to get rid of a failing Labour Administration.

It is a bit of a relief to me to see the shadow Leader of the House in better spirits today than he was yesterday. I do not know whether others noticed that he looked utterly miserable during Prime Minister’s questions, but I understand why. It was not just because the Leader of the Opposition spent last Saturday, just like old times, at a CND rally, or because he has appointed the former Finance Minister of the Greek Syriza Government as his new economic adviser, although heaven knows how any self-respecting Member on the Labour Front Bench could take that appointment seriously. It was not even because a former shadow Cabinet member said of the Leader of the Opposition’s appearance at the parliamentary party meeting on Monday:

“Expectations were rock-bottom—and he fell below them”.

The most bizarre claim to come from the Labour leadership this week was when the Leader of the Opposition said that he gets his moral compass from “Eastenders”. Surely not even the shadow Leader of the House can think that this is a man fit to be Prime Minister.

I understand that it is hard for someone who has decided, as the shadow Leader of the House has, to become a cheerleader for a team he clearly does not support. I would be happy to grant him a debate on learning from the lessons of history, because he is the man who says he is proud to have stuck a knife in the back of Tony Blair. Only this week, however, he seems to have had second thoughts and has started to show signs of thinking again, because he told a group of students:

“‘I’m going to talk about Tony Blair, I think we’re still allowed to speak about him”.

Of course, those were the days when Labour was a serious political party.