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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 agree with the hon. Gentleman on the need for positive campaigning, and I hope that all who are involved in the debate over our membership of the European Union in the coming months will take a positive approach and set out the facts so that the British people can take their decisions. I gently chide him for mentioning “Project Fear” when he talked about positive campaigning, and I remind him about the things that he said about the introduction of English votes for English laws. To listen to what he said, one would have thought that about as much doom and gloom and disaster as possible would fall on us, but it is not entirely clear to me that that has happened. The Union has not fallen apart because of the introduction of English votes for English laws, and the Scottish people whom I know think that it is entirely fair.

The hon. Gentleman raised Trident. If he is concerned to bring the Defence Secretary to the House to explain himself, there are mechanisms in the House by which the hon. Gentleman can do so. He can either seek your consent, Mr Speaker, or use the other avenues that are available to him, and I am sure that he will choose to do so. He talks about Trident being “dumped on our nation”, as he phrases it. I remind him of all the people in Scotland whose livelihoods depend on Trident, and of the people in the north-west of England whose jobs depend on the future replacement of Trident. Is he really saying he wants all those jobs to disappear? Is he really saying he wants the area around Rosyth to end up abandoned and without an economic role for the future? I do not think that is in the interests of those communities. I have to say that it is in the interests of Scotland and the United Kingdom that we retain a nuclear deterrent both for our national security and to ensure there are jobs in the parts of the United Kingdom that need them.

The hon. Gentleman asked about the estimates debates. I simply remind him that he is a member of the Liaison Committee, which chooses the subjects for debate on estimates days. The Committee is perfectly free to hold discussions on any aspects of public spending, and it chose to do so on Foreign and Commonwealth Office matters. It is for the hon. Gentleman, who sits on the Committee, to secure the debates he wants.

The position of the hon. Gentleman’s party on the Lords has been well set out. I must say that I think the Lords plays a role in helping to improve the quality of legislation in this place, but I suspect that we are never going to agree on that subject.