Business of the House

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

Alert me about debates like this

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

I am delighted that the hon. Gentleman, who has played an important part throughout these proceedings, raises both of those points, because they are ones that I wanted to come to anyway. Let me come to them in response to him rather than taking them later.

On the first question of whether there may be later stages beyond Monday, I do not believe that there needs to be any further round of voting after Monday on motions or propositions. I want to be very clear that I have said this to the hon. Gentleman so that he cannot later complain that there was any concealment at all, which is not part of our intention: I believe that if a majority for a particular proposition does emerge on Monday, as I very much hope that it will for reasons that I am about to come to, and if the Government do not immediately signal that they are willing to implement the majority view of the House of Commons at that point and if the Government have not by then—as I hope they have, although others may not—achieved a vote in favour of MV3, I think it would make sense for the House to move to the position of beginning to legislate to mandate the implementation of that majority. I think that would be a reasonable proceeding at that stage. It is only possible if we reach a majority view, of course.

I come now to the hon. Gentleman’s second point, which was the question of why Monday will be any different from today. The difference lies in two facts. This will be the first opportunity after a very long time—Tom Brake made this point—for the House of Commons, in an orderly way, to have the opportunity to express the views of Members in votes on specific propositions and for us all to see the lie of the land. When politicians do that, they very often discover that there is a basis for compromise and further informal, offline discussion that can lead to the crystallisation of majorities. In addition, it may be possible to structure the following Monday in a way that precipitates a majority, which it has not been the intention to do today. Today is purely indicative votes, and this is put today in a plain, vanilla way, so that everyone simply votes for all the things that they want to vote for and against all the things that they want to vote against, and we will see what the numbers are. This is purely a first set of indications.