Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:19 pm on 27th March 2019.

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Photo of Oliver Letwin Oliver Letwin Conservative, West Dorset 1:19 pm, 27th March 2019

I beg to move,

(1) That, at today’s sitting –

(a) any proceedings governed by the resolution of the House of 25 March (Section 13 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018) or this order may be proceeded with until any hour, though opposed and shall not be interrupted;

(b) the resolution of the House of 25 March shall apply as if, at the end of paragraph (b), there were inserted “and then to a motion in the name of a Minister of the Crown to approve the draft European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (Exit Day) (Amendment) Regulations 2019”;

(c) notwithstanding the practice of the House, any motion on matters that have been the subject of a prior decision of the House in the current Session may be the subject of a decision;

(d) the Speaker shall announce his decision on which motions have been selected for decision by recorded vote before calling a Member to move a motion under paragraph (f) of the resolution of 25 March;

(e) the first signatory of a motion so selected may inform the Speaker up to 4.00 pm that they do not wish a recorded vote to take place on that motion;

(f) having been so informed, the Speaker shall announce that information to the House and may announce a new decision on selection;

(g) the Speaker may not propose the question on any amendment to any motion subject to decision by recorded vote or on the previous question, and may not put any question under Standing Order No. 36 (Closure of debate) or Standing Order No. 163 (Motion to sit in private);

(h) debate on the motions having precedence under paragraph (f) of the resolution of 25 March may continue until 7.00 pm at which time the House shall proceed as if the question had been put on each motion selected by the Speaker for decision by recorded vote and the opinion of the Speaker as to the decision on each such question had been challenged;

(i) in respect of those questions –

(i) Members may record their votes on each question under arrangements made by the Speaker;

(ii) votes may be recorded for half an hour after the Speaker declares the period open and the Speaker shall suspend the House for that period;

(iii) the Speaker shall announce the results in the course of the sitting;

(j) immediately upon the conclusion of the voting period the Speaker shall call a Minister of the Crown to move to approve the draft European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (Exit Day) (Amendment) Regulations 2019 and Standing Order No. 41A (Deferred divisions) shall not apply to that motion;

(k) during the period between 7.00 pm and the announcement of the results on the questions subject to recorded vote–

(i) no motion for the adjournment may be made;

(ii) the House shall not proceed to a division other than on the question referred to in sub-paragraph (j); and

(iii) the Speaker may suspend the sitting if any other business, including proceedings provided for in sub-paragraph (j) and in paragraph (g) of the resolution of 25 March, has been concluded.

(2) That, on Monday 1 April

(a) Standing Order No. 14(1) (which provides that government business shall have precedence at every sitting save as provided in that order) shall not apply;

(b) precedence shall be given to a motion relating to the Business of the House in connection with matters relating to the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union other than any Business of the House motion relating to the consideration by the House of a motion under section 13(1)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, and then to motions relating to that withdrawal and the United Kingdom’s future relationship with the European Union other than any motion moved under section 13(1)(b) of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018;

(c) if more than one motion relating to the Business of the House is tabled, the Speaker shall decide which motion shall have precedence;

(d) the Speaker shall interrupt proceedings on any business having precedence before the Business of the House motion at 5.00 pm and call a Member to move that motion;

(e) debate on that motion may continue until 6.00 pm at which time the Speaker shall put the questions necessary to dispose of proceedings on that motion including the questions on amendments selected by the Speaker which may then be moved;

(f) when those proceedings have been concluded, the Speaker shall call a Member to move one of the other motions having precedence;

(g) any proceedings interrupted or superseded by this order may be resumed or (as the case may be) entered upon and proceeded with after the moment of interruption.

I am very grateful to you, Mr Speaker, and to the House authorities, for the organisation you have tentatively put in place for today. Of course that organisation can only operate if the House approves this business of the House motion.

I would like to begin by explaining, in as plain English as I can, the two paragraphs of which the motion consists, neither of which is in any way complicated, but both of which have been drafted very carefully to ensure that the business proceeds smoothly and in good order as we go through what will no doubt be a quite complicated and highly contentious set of discussions about the substantive motions that have been tabled, from which you, Mr Speaker, have not yet selected, but that will no doubt be announced as a series of selections after we have completed the discussion and votes on the business of the House motion.

Paragraph (1) is an effort to order today’s business in an orderly way, given that there may be a considerable number of substantive motions selected by Mr Speaker and that will therefore be debated, and, at 7 o’clock if the business of the House motion is accepted, to be voted on. I therefore draw the attention of hon. Members first to sub-paragraph (1)(i), which describes the method of voting. It is the intention that, to avoid taking too long voting on the substantive motions, we should retire into the two Lobbies. The Aye Lobby will be devoted to those whose names begin A to K, and the No Lobby will be devoted to those whose names begin L to Z. There will be, in those Lobbies, voting slips—I think of a different colour, but very similar in character to the deferred Division slips that we have used today and are quite used to using—which will be in a bundle and will relate to all those motions on the Order Paper today that have been selected by Mr Speaker for vote at the end of the day.