Scheduling of Parliamentary Business

Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 7:38 pm on 17th July 2017.

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Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Labour, Rhondda 7:38 pm, 17th July 2017

Yes, we have had several Sessions that lasted only several months because of early general elections or because, in the old days, the parliamentary Session started in November and then ended in the spring. We did not suddenly have 17 Opposition days because that is the fixed number of such days in a Session. Since Richard Crossman introduced these in November 1967, the whole idea of the change from Supply day debates to Opposition day debates was that the Opposition would have a fair amount of guaranteed time during the year.

This is not just about the Standing Orders; the Government have the absolute power to decide on the date of the Prorogation and how long a Session will be. That is only in the hands of the Government, not in our hands or the House’s hands. The Government get to decide when we will adjourn and go into recess. Only Government amendments are guaranteed to be considered on Report, and only the Government can table an amendment to the Standing Orders and be certain that it will be debated. That is a phenomenal tying up of power in the hands of the Executive, and the only thing that the Opposition have in return is the expectation that the Leader of the House and the Government will exercise fair play.