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Leaving the Eu: Customs

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:13 pm on 16th May 2018.

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Photo of David Lidington David Lidington Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Minister of State (Cabinet Office) 4:13 pm, 16th May 2018

I will want to say a bit more on that point in a few minutes, but first I want to finish what I have to say about collective responsibility.

Discussions between Ministers need to be frank. That was very well set out by a former very senior Labour Secretary of State, Jack Straw, in a statement that was quoted with approval by the Chilcot committee in its report. Mr Straw said in 2009, in explaining a Cabinet decision to veto the release of minutes of one of its meetings, that dialogue in Cabinet and Cabinet Committee

“must be fearless. Ministers must have the confidence to challenge each other in private. They must ensure that decisions have been properly thought through, sounding out all possibilities before committing themselves to a course of action…They must not be deflected from expressing dissent by the fear that they may be held personally to account for views that are later cast aside.”

Those were principles that previous Labour Governments upheld in fulfilling the responsibilities of government, and it is a measure of how far today’s Labour leadership has fallen that it should be abandoning those principles today. We cannot have that kind of honest, open discussion in Cabinet or Cabinet Committee if people know that at any time their views could be made public by means of a resolution of the House.

The second principle—