Points of Order

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:23 pm on 11th March 2019.

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Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee 4:23 pm, 11th March 2019

I am grateful to Ian Murray and Mr Francois for their points of order. I am reluctant at this time to specify a deadline or an intended target time. I would say to the right hon. Gentleman that I very much hope—with antennae finely attuned to the wishes of colleagues and the matter of basic courtesy in this place—that representatives of the Executive branch, who I am sure are keenly listening to these exchanges, will ensure that they get that motion down as soon as possible. If that is so, it may be that there is some time available tonight for colleagues who are interested to see what the Government have tabled. They would then have the advantage of that many more hours to consider whether to table an amendment—and, if so, which—and indeed to seek to garner support, possibly cross-party, for their amendment. However, if that is not the case, we will have to adjust as best we can.

There could well be several hours tomorrow in which Members will have sight of what has been tabled and will have the opportunity to table amendments. It is not to be assumed that we will necessarily be on to the business immediately after question time. There may be a longer period of time than that for colleagues to make their judgments about the matter. Certainly as far as I am concerned, the longer time that colleagues have to table amendments if they so wish, the better. The Government are perfectly entitled simply to put the motion down just before the close of business tonight—possibly obliged to do so because of what has taken place in Strasbourg, or possibly because of a judgment that they have made. That is not really my concern. My concern is that colleagues should be facilitated; and I will do on this occasion, as on every other, everything I can to facilitate the House. My role is to champion the legislature, not to be a nodding donkey for the Executive branch.