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

First, I thank the hon. Gentleman for his kind remarks, and I associate myself with his condolences to the victims of yesterday’s attack and his salute to the emergency services and others.

On the hon. Gentleman’s political questions, I have said that the Government will find time for the statutory instrument to be debated. Of course the fact that that particular statutory instrument is subject to the negative resolution procedure was authorised by the Act of Parliament from which it is delegated, so the power was debated and approved by this House during the Act’s passage.

On the substance of the policy on the third child of a woman who has been subjected to the ordeal of rape, the Government recognise that that is a very difficult and sensitive issue, which is why we have adopted a third-party model to allow us to make sure that neither Department for Work and Pensions nor Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs staff will question the mother about the incident. Instead, staff will simply take the claim and receive the supporting evidence from a third-party professional, which seems to us to be the right balance between making sure that mothers get the support they need without the need for unnecessary, intrusive processes while providing the right assurance that additional support goes to those for whom it is intended.

On the hon. Gentleman’s question about article 50, I must say that we have not been short of opportunities up till now, but I am sure that before long there will be an opportunity for the House to debate that decision or for questions to be posed.

On the debate in the Scottish Parliament, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has been very clear that we believe that now is not the time for a second referendum—particularly given that the 2014 referendum was supposed to be a once-in-a-generation opportunity—and that the United Kingdom Government and all three devolved Governments ought now to work very closely together to ensure that we get the best possible deal for all the people of every part of the United Kingdom in the forthcoming European negotiations.