I congratulate Marsha De Cordova on her maiden speech and welcome her to her place. I also congratulate my hon. Friend Kirstene Hair on her excellent maiden speech, for its wit and wisdom and its focus on connectivity to her constituency.
Democracy is a system for processing conflicts, and in this House that lies at the very heart of our debates; it is truly what we have come to this place, the mother of all Parliaments, to do. It is absolutely right that parties of all colours should be able properly to hold the Government of the day to account. Since arriving in this place in 2015, I have certainly found that the opportunities to do so have been plentiful.
It has to be said that the calling of this debate by Her Majesty’s official Opposition has very little to do with representing their constituents; to my mind, it has everything to do with political point-scoring. This is truly a case of navel-gazing by the Opposition, using precious parliamentary time to do so. It is a debate about debates, which is exactly what my constituents and theirs will feel angry and aggrieved about.
The reality is that the Standing Orders state that there should be 20 Opposition days in any one Session, 17 of which are for the main Opposition party, which in this case is the Labour party—I see the Opposition Benches emptying. The Labour party was provided with those 17 days in the previous Session, which lasted less than year. It has been offered the usual Opposition day debates for the short September sittings through the usual channels.
However, I agree with the Scottish National party’s Front-Bench spokesperson, Pete Wishart, that voters simply do not want to see this type of debate; they want to hear us discussing what matters, which is jobs, opportunities, schools, the impact of Brexit nationwide and so much more. Interestingly, the hon. Gentleman also mentioned his frustrations with filibustering. The greatest shame tonight is that we will be unable to discuss properly the shocking incidence of nationwide abuse of candidates during the general election, which is something I raised with the Leader of the House—I received a positive reception—in applications for Back-Bench business debates. It is up to the wit and will of Members of this House to use all the tools at their disposal to ensure that the points and issues raised by their constituents are heard via co-operation, and indeed their own persistence.
As right hon. and hon. Members will be aware, there have already been plentiful opportunities for Opposition Members to make representations in the Chamber on behalf of their constituents during the debates on the Queen’s Speech, because the Labour party of course had six days to choose those topics. Therefore, I join right hon. and hon. Friends in their disappointment that these complaints are being made to the Government. Indeed, I agree with my right hon. Friend Mrs Miller that this was purely a great opportunity for the Opposition to look at process, rather than complaints.