Scheduling of Parliamentary Business

Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 7:30 pm on 17th July 2017.

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Photo of Kelly Tolhurst Kelly Tolhurst Conservative, Rochester and Strood 7:30 pm, 17th July 2017

No, I want to make some progress.

I am surprised that the Opposition are complaining about the amount of time they have had to debate issues that are important to them. Since the election, we have had six days of debate on the Queen’s Speech, which many Opposition Members took part in. They had an opportunity to have their say in those debates. We have also had numerous urgent questions involving current issues and matters that are relevant to our constituents. I cannot speak about what happened before 2015, because that is when I was elected, but I have looked back over the past two years. There have been a number of debates on Government business and on important pieces of legislation which have not taken the full allocation of time because there was little appetite from the Opposition to join in. One occasion in particular takes me back.

The Children and Social Work Bill was one of the biggest pieces of legislation on children and social work for a number of years. Interestingly, it did not use up all its debating time on Second Reading, on Report or on Third Reading. However, interestingly, when we were debating an amendment on unaccompanied minors that had been tabled to grab the headlines, the Opposition Benches were packed. As soon as the amendment had passed, the Chamber emptied again. In fact, only one Opposition Member spoke on that Bill, which covered issues such as advisers for care leavers and adoption. Did the Opposition feel that those key issues in that massive piece of legislation would not quite grab the headlines? I agree with my hon. Friend Mims Davies that tonight’s debate seems to be about political point scoring and the Opposition trying to grab headlines when they think it will matter.

We have two years ahead of us in which, as the Government make progress, to debate the biggest piece of legislation that this Parliament has seen for many years. It covers something that my constituents are extremely concerned about. They are concerned that we should debate the issues properly and that we get the right legislation through the House, so it is absolutely correct that that must be the focus on both sides of the House. We must have enough time to debate that issue—