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 David Lidington David Lidington Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 11:34 am, 8th September 2016

On the rota for oral questions, the usual channels will review it depending on the experience of how the new arrangements work out in practice.

Turning to the hon. Gentleman’s question about human rights, I must say that there is absolutely no retreat on the Government’s part from the high human rights standards that we set for ourselves in this country, and which we follow through in the promotion of our foreign policy objectives. The human rights of the United Kingdom were well developed, established and had a fine reputation before the enactment of the Human Rights Act 1998. There is a long-standing issue over decisions relating to the application of article 8 of the European convention on human rights in particular extradition cases, so we are looking at how we might remedy some of those problems. However, the Prime Minister and the entire Government are absolutely clear that we stand by the human rights embodied in the Eurpoean convention, which after all was very much the product of work by United Kingdom jurists and politicians at the time.

On Hinkley, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said yesterday, we intend to take a decision very soon. In framing an energy strategy, we always have in mind the need to deliver on our climate change objectives and on ensuring security of energy supply, at reasonable cost, to both domestic consumers and British industry, so that British industry can be competitive in some quite fierce global markets.

I suspect that on the House of Lords the hon. Gentleman and I voted the same way, when those things were debated in a previous Parliament, in respect of a wholly or a partially elected upper House, but the truth was that there was no consensus, nor anything approaching it, in the House of Commons, within parties or across them, as to how that issue should be addressed. So it is not likely to be fruitful to try to pursue House of Lords reform as an early priority.

I was sorry about the disparaging tone that the hon. Gentleman adopted towards the Wales Bill, because this Government’s record in Wales has been about delivering the increased devolution that the Welsh people, the Welsh Assembly and political parties, for the most part, in Wales have been saying they wanted to see. I was not shocked, but I was disheartened by the critical remark he threw in about the approach of the parliamentary Boundary Commission and the framework within which it is operating. One of my treats since my appointment has been to dip into his autobiography, and I found on pages 57 and 58 of his memoirs that he lauded the achievements and record of the Chartists. He spelled out that one of the Chartists’ key objectives was that we should have constituencies with equal numbers of electors in each constituency. The framework under which the Boundary Commission is operating will deliver one of the charter objectives, which he so strongly supported, so I should have thought he would be cheering us on, not criticising us.