Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:55 pm on 3rd April 2019.

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Photo of Oliver Letwin Oliver Letwin Conservative, West Dorset 1:55 pm, 3rd April 2019

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for bringing us back to the business of the House motion, which has not had much of an airing yet. The paragraph to which he refers is one of a large number of provisions in the motion that are collectively designed to ensure that the short time at our disposal is not ill used on procedural devices and dilatory actions, and to ensure that we can spend the time talking about the Bill, rather than whether we should talk about the Bill, whether we should have talked about some other Bill, whether we should talk about it on some other day, whether we should sit in private, whether we should adjourn, or any other matter of not the slightest significance that might be raised to delay our talking about the Bill—by, incidentally, those who may also complain that we do not have enough time to talk about the Bill. I think it is legitimate to close off those things.

I pay enormous tribute to the brilliance and incredible hard work of the Clerks, on which those of us engaged in this have called repeatedly. The quality of their advice, and their sustained effort, is beyond compare. It is a really remarkable performance by the highest class of professional.

I shall mention briefly the other features of the motion. As well as provisions on timing, which take us up to paragraph (8), the motion provides for the House of Lords to bring back messages, should it seek to amend the Bill. In fact, unless the Government choose to move amendments today on the detail, in order to increase the Government’s flexibility, we will need, I think, to accept some amendments from the House of Lords—a punctilious House that will, I am sure, want to tighten the Bill. Paragraphs (9) to (12) allow that to happen in an expeditious way, and are otherwise uncontroversial, as is paragraph (13).