Division number 170
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Having failed to secure three days of debate on the Lords amendments through an earlier Liberal Democrat amendment—which we can see was in fact desperately needed, because we are not going to have any time at all to discuss Northern Ireland or the devolution settlements— I must now seek your guidance on another matter.
There is a Liberal Democrat amendment on the amendment paper that would provide for a final say on the deal. It is supported by more than 20 Members of Parliament, and more have indicated that they would support it if it was pushed to a vote, but that is not going to be possible. Indeed, Dr Lee, with his new-found freedom, may have wanted to support it.
I seek your advice on what we can do to make our proceedings more transparent to the public and ensure we vote on matters that are dear to the public’s heart, such as a final say on the deal. I also seek your advice on how to stop the Government closing down debate on matters that they consider to be uncomfortable or that would expose their incompetence or inconsistency.
I am most grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his point of order and for his courtesy in giving me advance notice of his intention to raise it. Of course I understand his points; he would probably be more than a little perturbed if I did not. To be clear—I think it warrants a simple explanation or statement to the House—all I can do is to select or not select amendments and to decide whom to call to speak. His amendment was selected, and I vividly recall that he was able to make a brief contribution to the debate.
I am as tightly bound by the Standing Orders of the House as the right hon. Gentleman is, and—I say this for wider intelligibility of our proceedings—once the knife has fallen during consideration of Lords amendments, which means in simple parlance once time for debate is up, only Ministers may put propositions to the House. That may dissatisfy some colleagues, but I am sure everyone will accept that we have to operate in accordance with the rules, and where there is no discretion, I cannot assume that there is. I hope that that is at least helpful in explaining how we are doing things and why we are doing what we are doing. I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman.
Before Clause 9