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

Yes, Parliament will be kept fully informed at the appropriate times about the progress of the negotiations, although I think even the hon. Gentleman will understand that if there is an ongoing negotiation, it would be foolish of any Government of any political party to go into minute detail about how those negotiations were progressing, because that would disadvantage this country in the progress of those negotiations. The Government will indeed report back at regular intervals, and Ministers will additionally be available to answer those oral and written questions. It is also open to Members to make an application to Mr Speaker for urgent questions and debates if they feel that the case is strong.

I just say to the hon. Gentleman that he should look at the track record this week. On the first day back, we had my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union answer questions about this matter for about two hours. Yesterday, in giving a statement about the G20 summit, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister spent a lot of her time responding to Members’ questions about the impact on the United Kingdom’s international position of the decision to leave the European Union. I do not think that the hon. Gentleman can claim to have been short-changed this week.

The hon. Gentleman referred to the report on the restoration and renewal project that is to be published at midday today by the Joint Committee. It is a report which, like any Select Committee report, has been developed by the Members concerned. The Government have not had any input into it, nor have we had any prior copies of the report sent to us so that we could make comments before the Committee made its announcements today. Parliament will have an opportunity to debate the matter before any decisions are taken. Decisions about the future of the Palace will be a matter for this House and for the House of Lords.

Finally on the boundary changes, I just say to the hon. Gentleman that the principle involved here is equality of weight of votes. It really would be an affront to democracy if we went into an election in 2020 on the basis of electoral rolls that were based on a census that was nearly two decades old by that point and where we had some Members representing 100,000 electors and others representing significantly fewer than half that total.