Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 pm on 23rd March 2017.

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Photo of David Lidington David Lidington Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 12:00 pm, 23rd March 2017

I thank the hon. Lady for her kind words and associate myself unreservedly both with her final remarks and with the tributes that she rightly paid not only to the police, but to the staff of the House for what they did yesterday in their various roles.

I have to say to the hon. Lady that I intend to be here for a business statement next Thursday. I would be very sorry to lose her across the Dispatch Box, but perhaps this is another Opposition Front-Bench change that has been heralded in advance.

The hon. Lady asked about a number of pieces of forthcoming business, and I can tell her that the Government will make provision for debates on the two statutory instruments about which she expressed concern. I cannot give her a firm date yet—work is happening and discussions are continuing through the usual channels about the precise date—but time will be found.

On the items of European legislation that will be needed, there will of course be ample opportunity to debate their content and impact. Although it is no secret that I expect the repeal Bill to include some secondary legislative powers, the scope and definition of those powers will of course themselves be subject to the full parliamentary process. The definitions and scope will have to be agreed by both Houses of Parliament through the normal process of enacting a Bill into law.

On education, it is a fact that more is being spent on schools than ever before, but the national funding formula, to which the hon. Lady expressed particular objection, has been the subject of a consultation that closed only a couple of days ago. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education will now consider the responses of local authorities, schools and others to that consultation, and she will come forward with the Government’s proposals in due course. For a long time, it was common ground between political parties that the existing funding formula is grotesquely unfair in that it provides, in some cases, for a child attending school in one authority to receive almost twice as much funding as an equivalent child in a comparable school in a different local authority, despite the basic cost of providing education being the same. That is why the Government committed themselves to introducing a national funding formula.

Finally, the hon. Lady asked about the BBC. I note that she did not allude to the presence of a former Labour Cabinet Minister in a senior role at the BBC, although I suspect he has probably been airbrushed out by the current Labour party leadership. For as long as I have been in this place, robust, strongly held and strongly expressed views about the BBC, for and against, have been voiced by Members on both sides of the House. My feeling is that, if hon. Members have a sin in that respect, it is that we spend too much time watching or listening to political and current affairs programmes. When I think of the BBC, I think of the Proms and Radio 3, which enable me to approach the subject with a degree of serenity.