Scheduling of Parliamentary Business

Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 7:49 pm on 17th July 2017.

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Photo of Jacob Rees-Mogg Jacob Rees-Mogg Conservative, North East Somerset 7:49 pm, 17th July 2017

That is where I think the Opposition have misfired today:

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

But this is not the season or the time. So much is happening of general urgency, and this debate strikes me as fiddling while Brussels burns. We have the massive Brexit debate to consider, we still have a huge deficit to be debated and we have a great housing crisis that has been so starkly brought to our attention by what happened at Grenfell Tower, and what do Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition ask for? They ask for a debate on Standing Orders—a debate on a debate. A debate on conversation. Even for one who loves procedure and thinks it of great importance, can that be what is of most urgency to us today? It is a question of proportionality.

The hon. Member for Rhondda made many important points about how the House has limited powers to hold a strong Government to account and about how it should use those powers, but the Opposition have asked for this debate a few days into the Session, before we have had any real opportunity to discover how many Opposition days we will have, and well before it is decided whether additional days will be given because it is a two-year Session. I have no doubt that further days will be given. Indeed, if all 20 days have been used up a year from now and the Government come to the Dispatch Box to say that there will be no more days, I will be on the side of the Opposition. I would support the Opposition in asking for a proportional share during the second year of this Session, which would be only right. I would also be in favour of an extra three days for the Scottish National party, because that is what this Parliament ought to do, but Valerie Vaz, the shadow Leader of the House, has misfired—this is too soon and too early, and it is not genuinely urgent.