Foreign Affairs Committee

Part of Exiting the European Union (Agriculture) – in the House of Commons at 5:17 pm on 19th March 2019.

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Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Chair, Defence Committee 5:17 pm, 19th March 2019

Is this not the heart of the matter? Is it not absurd to be talking about changing the balance between Opposition and Government membership on these Committees? These Committees, with very few exceptions, never divide along party lines. When the Defence Committee meets, I never ever have to consider the fact that it might be me—one Conservative—and five Opposition Members who happen to be in that meeting at the time.

I crave your indulgence for a second, Madam Deputy Speaker, to say that I am very sorry I cannot make a full speech in this debate because I was chairing a Defence Committee meeting that overlapped with a large part of it. However, I have known of Mike Gapes since the 1970s, when we were both fighting Trotskyists inside the Labour party. In the 1990s, I remember going with Conservative delegations to eastern Europe, only to find that the hon. Gentleman, as international secretary of the Labour party, had got there before us. The idea that the hon. Gentleman has had to leave the Labour party, when every drop of his blood is infused with the ethos of the Labour party, is absolutely tragic—