Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:51 pm on 27th March 2019.

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Photo of Jonathan Djanogly Jonathan Djanogly Conservative, Huntingdon 2:51 pm, 27th March 2019

As I see it, the Government position has two clear tracks: the first is that this business of the House process is somehow unconstitutional, and the second is that even if it is constitutional, it is somehow hijacking the agenda.

Let me take the first element. From the perspective of historical precedent, I suggest that the Government are simply wrong. Early in the last century, it would have been absolutely normal and acceptable procedure for legislators to bring forward Bills. Indeed, in the United States legislators constantly introduce Bills in both Houses of Congress. The reason they do that, by the way, is that they got it from us.

Let me move forward to today. There is also clear constitutional precedent for Parliament setting the agenda: they are called private Members’ Bills days. We also have Backbench Business days, which are essentially Back-Bench initiatives to take over the agenda. If we can allow it for such business, how much more should we be prepared to allow it when the House is deadlocked and the Government are not setting out plan B on the most important issue to face this country since the second world war?

As for the second element—that we are somehow hijacking the agenda—I refute that absolutely. Nothing is stopping the Government using all days except these two sitting days to set out their own agenda and put forward their own proposals. To claim that taking two days is somehow hijacking the agenda is simply a weak excuse, in my book. This motion represents a parallel process, aimed at breaking the deadlock that exists. I sincerely congratulate all Members who have been involved in setting today’s business and promoting an attempt to try to find a way forward.