Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:57 pm on 3rd April 2019.

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Photo of Iain Duncan Smith Iain Duncan Smith Conservative, Chingford and Woodford Green 2:57 pm, 3rd April 2019

I intend to be very brief. I rise to explain why I will oppose this motion, in line with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, who spoke for the Government.

I think the biggest danger here is that a precedent is being set. I am not by any means the oldest Member in the House—I simply chide Pete Wishart, who spoke from the SNP Benches—but I recall that when I first came here that it was always a requirement for every Bill to have 100 hours in Committee before the Government were allowed to bring it back to the Floor of the House with any kind of guillotine. Debate and scrutiny took place in Committee, or on the Floor of the House for that matter, at great length, as many of my right hon. and hon. Friends will remember. I think the quality of our examination of Bills was infinitely better than what followed under the subsequent Labour Government, who introduced programme motions on Bills immediately. That has meant that this House has fallen into disrepute for its inability properly to scrutinise legislation in the way it should.

We now dump everything in the other place and say blithely, as my right hon. Friend Sir Oliver Letwin said earlier—I say quite genuinely that he is a good friend—things will go to the Lords and, of course, we expect the Lords to tidy it up. However, we are the elected Chamber: the public have elected us to come here to hold the Government to account. We constantly say that we are here to hold the Government to account, and then we blithely say that we will let the Lords do it for us when they get the chance and that we will think about it later on.