Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:11 am on 29th March 2018.

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Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 11:11 am, 29th March 2018

The hon. Lady has raised a wide range of subjects. As is often the case, I have to remind her that discussions on debates and offering time for debates take place through the usual channels.

On the hon. Lady’s specific point about the nursing bursary statutory instrument, I do not think she is up to date on where we are with that. It is a matter of parliamentary convention that where a reasonable request for a debate has been made, time should be allowed for a debate. It was not possible for the Government to accommodate time within the praying period of the instrument that was laid before the House on 6 February, so we revoked the regulations on Tuesday and laid new regulations identical in substance to the original on Wednesday. Those regulations came into force today. This was as part of the arrangements made to give effect to the request from the official Opposition for a debate in Government time. We have fully worked with the Opposition to ensure that that request can be paid careful attention to and that we will be able to give time to that debate. I hope that that satisfies her.

The hon. Lady asks about other SIs that have been prayed against. Where a reasonable request for a debate has been made, it is the convention that time is allowed for it. That continues to be the case, and the Government continue to abide by all Standing Orders and conventions in this place.

The hon. Lady makes the assertion that there is no business going on. She will be aware that there have been some incredibly important debates. [Interruption.] She says from a sedentary position, “General debates”, as if somehow the only debates that are worth having are those on voteable motions. I have to disagree with her, because only this week we had a very important and very well-attended debate on national security and Russia. [Interruption.] Hon. Members are yelling from a sedentary position. At business questions each week, I get lots of requests for debates on subjects that are of significant interest to our constituents, to the national security of this country, and to diverse groups across the United Kingdom. Hon. Members cannot have it both ways. They cannot insist on having only voteable legislation brought before the House but then criticise me when we do not give them debates on general subjects that are of vital importance to the United Kingdom. I do urge hon. Members to keep that balance in mind.

The hon. Lady asks about private Members’ Bills. There are a number of very valuable Bills that are supported right across the House and in the United Kingdom, and we will be bringing forward money resolutions in due course.

The hon. Lady asks about Cambridge Analytica and the Information Commissioner. As the Prime Minister said, the Information Commissioner’s powers will be strengthened, and if more resources are necessary, they will be forthcoming.

The hon. Lady asks about the European Commission’s threat that potentially the UK will be blocked out of projects such as Galileo and Copernicus. The UK makes a very strong and, in many areas, unique contribution to these projects. It is a matter for negotiation, but it is fully our intention to continue to collaborate and work closely with our EU friends and neighbours as we leave the European Union.

Finally, I join the hon. Lady in thanking all those who provide such good service in protecting and supporting us in our work in this place.