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 Pete Wishart Pete Wishart Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader (Leader of the House of Commons), Chair, Scottish Affairs Committee 12:00 pm, 23rd March 2017

I thank the Leader of the House for announcing the business for next week. I join him and the Labour shadow Leader of the House in all their tributes to the members of staff who worked so exceptionally yesterday. I commend him for the leadership he showed in the Chamber yesterday, for which I thank him. It is appropriate and right that we continue our business as normal. We will not be deterred from our important work on behalf of all the people we represent.

This institution lost one of its own yesterday, and I express my heartfelt condolences to the family of Keith Palmer and to the families of all the others who lost their life. As a Scottish Member of Parliament, one of the things I have noted is the inspiring resilience and determination of this great city and its people. We are all Londoners today. As a tribute, perhaps we could consider a debate on the value of our emergency services to this nation, on the risks they take on our behalf, and on their immense contribution to keeping our nation safe. That would be a fitting tribute from us, as Members of Parliament, to the memory of Keith Palmer.

Because of the events here, the Scottish Parliament suspended its business yesterday and no vote was taken on seeking a section 30 order so that a legal referendum can be held to determine the future political arrangements of Scotland. That vote will now happen next Tuesday, and it is anticipated that it will be passed. The will of the Scottish Parliament will be expressed, and surely it is incumbent on this House to respond positively to the democratic voice of the Scottish Parliament. There can be no good reason for the voice of Scotland’s Parliament to be ignored, so will the Leader of the House tell us how this Government intend to respond, and how they intend to respond positively, to what is agreed in our national Parliament?

It is also beyond pernicious that this Government will seek to put through the rape clause via a negative statutory instrument without any debate. My hon. Friend Alison Thewliss attempted to secure a debate on that issue. Will the Leader of the House please reconsider? Something so important should rightly be debated on the Floor of the House.

Article 50 will be triggered next Wednesday, but I cannot see anything in the business statement to say that there will be a statement or some sort of debate in the House of Commons, so will the Leader of the House confirm that there will be at least a statement next Wednesday to mark this immensely depressing event?

Finally, as we all go home to our friends and families this afternoon, it is right to remember that one of our number who worked in this House will not have the same opportunity and advantage as we have today.