Foreign Affairs Committee

Part of Exiting the European Union (Agriculture) – in the House of Commons at 5:12 pm on 19th March 2019.

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Photo of Richard Benyon Richard Benyon Conservative, Newbury 5:12 pm, 19th March 2019

I am moved by the speech of Siobhain McDonagh. Those were extraordinarily courageous words to say in this extraordinary Parliament, where we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory in so many ways, with a new fluidity in politics that we need to reflect. I will detain the House for only a very short moment.

As the leader of the UK delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, it has been my good fortune to work with Mike Gapes. At the moment, when we go to these forums, parliamentarians from across the world—in our case, from across the NATO alliance—ask, “What is going on in the United Kingdom?” We try to explain, which at times I find almost impossible. If they are confused by our actions in this Parliament and our inability to get through a certain matter, they will be doubly confused when they see that somebody of the hon. Gentleman’s standing and stature in the NATO Parliamentary Assembly is being excluded from a Select Committee on which he has extraordinary experience and of which he is a former Chair. If he were also to be removed from our delegation, that would be extraordinary, and I simply would not be able to explain it to the many parliamentarians who look to this Parliament for inspiration and feel that there is a basic sense of fairness and decency, which we should uphold. I am grateful that the Government’s whipping allows me to do what I was going to do anyway.