Scheduling of Parliamentary Business

Part of Bill Presented – in the House of Commons at 8:11 pm on 17th July 2017.

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Photo of Darren Jones Darren Jones Labour, Bristol North West 8:11 pm, 17th July 2017

Of course I would not class the Leader of the House in that group of middle-aged men—but I am sure that she knows each and every one of them as they vie for the leadership of her party and, perhaps, try to take her position.

When Britain faces arguably her most challenging time since the second world war, with decisions taken here in this Parliament deciding what type of country Britain will be for the next generation, it seems to me that the Government need to step up to allow for accountability and opposition. As my hon. colleagues have said, this debate is about the lack of time being given to us, with Opposition day and Back-Bench business debates seemingly in short supply on the basis of simple parliamentary mathematics.

Many Government Members who campaigned to take back control and argued for parliamentary sovereignty for this place will no doubt share my concern. A. V. Dicey, the father of parliamentary constitutional theory, would be turning in his grave; the theories on which he built from Montesquieu on the separation of powers and the trias politica, which mean that power should be balanced between the Executive and the legislature, are not being followed because the Opposition are not being allowed to hold the Government to account. The balance is not as it should be. The taking back of control to this Parliament, as opposed to the Executive, is failing. With a Government entirely consumed by their chaotic management of Brexit, seemingly more interested in self-preservation than the national interest, it must be left to the Opposition to act as a party of government with a mandate for government in our manifesto to ensure proper debate on the issues about which my constituents are concerned.

Dare I say that it is no longer acceptable for Ministers to stand up and say, “Everything will be fine; we are a great nation”? Blind patriotism detached from the real world will only show us as a country out of touch and out of control. That is why we must be allowed proper time for debate in this House, to help the Government understand the reality of their inaction. My frustration at the news yesterday was a prime example, as Ministers decided to waste their time by briefing against each other instead of getting on with the job in hand. That frustration might have been calmed by the knowledge that I would have the opportunity to debate the issues of the day in a grown-up, professional and respectful fashion in this House, in the way my constituents expect of us and for the reasons they elected me to this House in the first place. But it seems that that most normal of asks is being thwarted by the Government, so it is with great disappointment that I find myself having to make this speech in support of the motion from my hon. Friend Valerie Vaz, arguing for what should be normal debate in this Parliament.

Although you might not be able to resolve my disappointment, Mr Speaker, at what I found behind the curtain of power, I hope that this House will put the national interest above power games and party political concerns and allow proper time for debate and scrutiny.