Privilege (Withdrawal Agreement: Legal Advice)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:10 pm on 4th December 2018.

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Photo of Jacob Rees-Mogg Jacob Rees-Mogg Conservative, North East Somerset 2:10 pm, 4th December 2018

Because the Government have tabled an amendment that I feel I can support—[Interruption.] We are not in pantomime season quite yet. [Hon. Members: “Oh yes we are!”] All right, I give in on that one. I am defeated on that particular point, but not on the substantive one.

I am happy to support the Government’s amendment, because I think it is right that a Committee of this House look at the issue in broad terms. It may be right that the House wishes to take a self-denying ordinance on the extent of Humble Addresses. It may be that we would like to say specifically that they would be deemed disorderly, and therefore not tabled, if they related to matters concerning the security services or other types of information where there would be a broad consensus that those matters should not be brought forward. The ability to demand papers could require—dare I say it?—that the tax returns of Opposition Members be brought to the House—[Interruption.] Mine would be of so little interest that I cannot imagine it happening. That would be a clear abuse of the precedents that we have. So it may well be right that the Privileges Committee should consider broadly how Humble Addresses should be used to ensure that they are effective, because currently they ought to be effective and the Government ought to abide by them.