Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:34 am on 8th September 2016.

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Photo of Paul Flynn Paul Flynn Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, Shadow Secretary of State for Wales 11:34 am, 8th September 2016

We thank the Leader of the House for his answers. We are all basking in the reflected glory of the brilliant successes of our Olympians, and we too acknowledge the pioneering work in this country on the introduction of the concept of the Paralympic games. We all wish our Paralympians well. If there is a minor quibble, it is that this is an odd moment, when we are celebrating our sporting success, to diminish the time available for Culture, Media and Sport questions. The Opposition have reluctantly gone along with that decision, but we see it as a temporary measure. We certainly do not see any of those areas as minor in any way, and we look forward to the restoration of the full time that was previously available for those questions.

Next week’s Welsh debate will illustrate the degraded system of our democracy and the way in which it is heading into further distress. The Wales Bill will not guarantee a compensatory increase in the number of Members of the Welsh Assembly, although their work load has trebled. Wales will lose 11 of its 40 MPs as well as the four MEPs who represent Wales. There is great turmoil in our democratic system as the disgrace of buying places in the House of Lords continues. The press have rightly condemned the decisions taken by the previous Prime Minister to award places in the House of Lords, which is already bloated and trying to cope with 300 extra Members that it does not need, in order to placate the interests of lobbyists, cronies and party donors. Instead of piecemeal reform of only one defect in our democracy that will please and help only the Tories and disfranchise 2 million voters, we should get together and realise how degraded is our democracy and reach an all-party agreement on an all-embracing reform that will consider all the abuses in order to create a fair system that is good value for our electors and one that can win back international respect for the quality of our democracy.

The decision to halt the contract for Hinkley Point C was bold and brave. There is no crisis of security; the system being introduced is out of date and has never worked anywhere in the world due to endless construction delays—multi-billion cost overruns have happened in other countries. We must also reconsider the striking of an atrocious deal that will saddle electricity users with the world’s highest electricity prices for the next 35 years. Will the Leader of the House give us a debate before any final decision on Hinkley is taken, so that we can consider all these aspects in this House before we blunder into what could be a gigantic financial and technological disaster?

Finally, the Leader of the House had a distinguished record as a Minister for European affairs, so why are we retreating from our role of providing the gold standard for human rights in the world—certainly throughout Europe? By insisting on a minor matter of our own traditional practices, we are inviting other countries—oppressive regimes—to go back to their traditions of abusing their citizens and degrading human rights. If we are no longer the trailblazers and do not provide the gold standard, others will slip backwards. Is that not a retrograde step? We should consider continuing to be a full part of the European Court of Human Rights and following all the European traditions of human rights, in which we have led for many years.