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 Pete Wishart Pete Wishart Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Leader of the House of Commons), Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee 11:34 am, 8th September 2016

I, too, thank the Leader of the House for announcing the business for next week and join him in wishing the very best to our Paralympians as they start their business of, we hope, winning a new clutch of gold medals for this country.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister announced that there would be no “running commentary” on the Brexit negotiations, when refusing to say whether she was in favour on the simple question of whether we should be in a single market or not. That sounded to me—it might just be me—that this House will simply be expected to accept whatever this Government concoct in this Brexit deal, as soon as they get round to deciding what that is going to be in the first place. The Leader of the House is Parliament’s champion; he has an obligation and a duty to represent this House. Will he confirm to us today that this House will be kept bang up to date on every detail of these negotiations on the single biggest issue in our public life today?

We already know that this Government have no intention of bringing the trigger for article 50 to this House—God knows where that leaves their whole concept of parliamentary sovereignty. We have also learned, second hand, that there will be no Australian points-based system. That is the UK Independence party’s favoured immigration system, yet it is too liberal for the Tories. Instead, they are going to have some sort of great wall of Calais constructed. I say to the Leader of the House: please let us have no more meaningless waffle from the Secretary of State for splendid isolation and no more keeping this House and the public in the dark about what this Government propose on Brexit.

This morning, it was announced that billions of pounds will be spent on refurbishing this House. I am sure that the Leader of the House meant to announce that we were going to have a full statement on that and a proper debate in Government time on the proposals, particularly as we have learned that this project could cost up to £4.3 billion of public money. I am sure that all our constituents would want to know whether that is a good use of public money.

Lastly, let me go back to the constituency issue in the House of Lords that the shadow Leader of the House so deftly raised. The Government were going to make an announcement on their latest plans to gerrymander constituency boundaries. They do not really need to do it any more, as the plans were designed to stymie the Labour party, which does not need to be stymied any further. I know that the plans give the Conservative party a lead of 30 seats, but that is not necessary any more. When we have that debate, can it be for all of Parliament, because we have to take into account what is going on in that absurd House down the corridor? It cannot possibly be right that we are increasing the number of unelected Lords while at the same time decreasing the number of elected Members. Can we have that debate and that statement?