Scheduling of Parliamentary Business

Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 5:50 pm on 17th July 2017.

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Photo of Valerie Vaz Valerie Vaz Shadow Leader of the House of Commons 5:50 pm, 17th July 2017

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered the scheduling of parliamentary business by the Leader of the House and the implications of a two-year session for Standing Orders requirements.

Mr Speaker, I thank you for agreeing that this debate should take place. This is not a debate about a debate. It is about an important point of principle: our parliamentary democracy and the role of this House. It is about the Opposition and other Members holding the Government to account, and it is about the sovereignty of Parliament. This House is not supine. Our constituents—the electorate —expect us to be here. They voted for us, in the official Opposition’s case, to set up our programme for change. This minority Government are not working.

The Standing Orders are set out in the Blue Book. Rules and procedures have to be consistent, certain and clear. What does the book say about Opposition days? Standing Order 14 says:

“Twenty days shall be allotted in each session for proceedings on opposition business, seventeen of which shall be at the disposal of the Leader of the Opposition and three of which shall be at the disposal of the leader of the second largest opposition party”.

[Interruption.] Will Government Members hang on a second? Given the Government’s announcement of a two-year Session, references to Sessions in Standing Orders should be interpreted as per year, with dates allocated pro rata.

The Government announced by press release:

“Rare two-year Parliamentary session…Double the length of a normal Parliamentary session”.

Therefore, the implication of those plain words is that the number of days would be doubled.