Scheduling of Parliamentary Business

Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 7:21 pm on 17th July 2017.

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Photo of Angela Smith Angela Smith Labour, Penistone and Stocksbridge 7:21 pm, 17th July 2017

I completely agree with my hon. Friend and that was exactly the point I wanted to make.

The Prime Minister said only two weeks ago that she wanted cross-party working and a national consensus between the parties in order to serve the national interest. The Government have made a very poor start on that. If they want consensus, I am more than happy to play my part, but they need to show that they mean business and are ready to use the mechanisms of the House and to make it possible for a consensus to develop in real and meaningful terms in this Chamber. We have seen very little evidence of that so far.

I shall finish on a rather more controversial point. I believe that the real reason we are seeing so little action from the Government in providing for meaningful Opposition day debates or for legislation—there is still no Committee of Selection, and Bills are coming to the Floor of the House when they should not be doing so—is that the Government are absolutely desperate to avoid any kind of Back-Bench instability in the Commons. That is because they are so worried about the future of their own Prime Minister. The truth is that Government Front Benchers want to get beyond the conference season and beyond October to be sure that they still have this Prime Minister in No. 10. They are absolutely desperate to avoid any meaningful debate in this House, in order to shore up the Government’s position. That is an appalling abuse of parliamentary democracy, and it is not in the national interest. When is this zombie Parliament going to end?