Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:38 am on 6th December 2018.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 10:38 am, 6th December 2018

I also wish the hon. Lady a happy birthday. It is extraordinary. I remember this time last year we were also in business questions. Doesn’t time fly?

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her many points. Yes, the House will rise on 20 December and return on 7 January, and as the Home Secretary said yesterday in Home Office questions, the immigration White Paper will be published as soon as possible. It is being finalised and will be brought forward. It is obviously important to me, as the person responsible for bringing legislation through, that we get it through in good time.

On the Attorney General and the contempt procedure, I gently point out to the hon. Lady that I was saying that any parliamentarian who finds themselves in government would regret this—that was not in any sense threatening and I slightly personally resent that she is impugning that. I was making the point that it remains a fundamental constitutional convention that Law Officers’ advice should not be disclosed outside of Government. If we disclose that advice, it severely constrains future advice from being offered in a frank and open way. That was my point. I hope that she accepts that in no way was I attempting to threaten anyone; I was merely stating the facts. While the Government have absolutely complied with the demand of the House, there is a fundamental problem with the overlap between the constitutional convention of confidentiality of Law Officers’ advice and the perfectly legitimate expectation and will of the House, with which I have complied.

The hon. Lady asked about the Attorney General’s letter to Mr Speaker. My hon. Friends on the Front Bench have managed to establish that it was published on the gov.uk website on 4 December—hopefully that is helpful. She talked about the economic assessment of the draft agreement. Obviously, we will be discussing that during today’s debate and I hope that hon. Members will be able to pick that up.

I can absolutely confirm to the hon. Lady that, as I said at the start, I hope that all hon. Members will choose to support the deal that is on the table. It is the only deal on the table. On the matter of the local government settlement, we have local government questions on Monday, in which there will be an opportunity for Members to ask the Secretary of State about his plans.

The hon. Lady referred to the NHS 10-year plan. We all really look forward to seeing that. It is fantastic that this Government have made the biggest ever investment in our very precious national health service, and we all look forward to seeing some of the measures to create equality of mental health with physical health, more investment in identifying cancers early and better cancer outcomes for patients. There is so much that will be in that 10-year plan and we all look forward to seeing that. Finally, she asked about Education questions. I just point out to her that Education questions will be on Monday 17 December.