Scheduling of Parliamentary Business

Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 6:01 pm on 17th July 2017.

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Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 6:01 pm, 17th July 2017

My hon. Friend is exactly right. This is a debate about process. It is not about material things, and it is certainly not about things that our constituents care about.

In terms of respecting parliamentary supremacy—something that I know is very dear to you, Mr Speaker—let us look at the performance of my party versus the Opposition. Who created the Backbench Business Committee in 2010? My party. Who brought in elections to Select Committees? My party. Who introduced the e-petition system? My party. So in fact this Government—this party—have done far more for parliamentary supremacy than the Opposition have. So far, over 10 million people have signed various petitions, the Government have formally responded to 264 petitions, and 20 petitions have been scheduled for debate. The Government have also responded to 162 urgent questions in this House since 2015 alone.

This urgent debate is the result of party politics at its worst. Nearly 13 million people voted for Labour to come to this place and represent them. I do not believe they were voting for petty time-wasting by Labour. All the Opposition are doing is talking about process when what is important is policy. The Opposition say they want to talk about tuition fees—well, let us talk about tuition fees. We are committed to supporting all young people to reach their full potential, whether that means going to university, starting an apprenticeship, or taking up a technical qualification. Young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are now going to university at a record rate—up by 43% since 2009. But Labour Members are in a total mess over the pledge they made to students just seven days before the general election—a pledge they have now admitted would cost £100 billion, and was just an “ambition”, according to the shadow Chancellor. They should be upfront with young people about their plans. Is it still their policy to cancel all student debt, or was it a pre-election scam?

Or perhaps Labour Members would like to talk about the economy. This Government have shown determination to live within our means so that the next generation are not saddled with the debts of 13 years of Labour recklessness. We inherited the largest peacetime deficit ever from Labour, but since—