Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:20 pm on 3rd April 2019.

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Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Chair, European Scrutiny Committee 3:20 pm, 3rd April 2019

I have already made my remarks on the methodology that is being employed in respect of the Bill. I think it is reprehensible. It represents a constitutional revolution, and it sets a very undesirable precedent. My right hon. Friend Sir Oliver Letwin said in his concluding remarks that responsibility for all this somehow lies with those, such as myself, who oppose the withdrawal agreement and related matters. I do not think I am misrepresenting him by saying that, but I think the truth is quite the opposite.

Something of the order of 30 colleagues—I say this with great respect to them, because they are entitled to say and do what they want—are doing something profoundly undemocratic by supporting what my right hon. Friend is trying to achieve, in all its enormity, with this business motion. The precedence that is given in Standing Order No. 14 to Government business is one of the rocks of our parliamentary system. Why? Because we have a system of parliamentary government, and a system of democratic government.

I say in all reasonableness that Standing Order No. 14 gives precedence to Government business for a very simple reason. If a Government are formed because the Queen has agreed that a Prime Minister should take office, it follows that Her Majesty’s Government have a majority and/or a sufficient degree of confidence to be able to carry the business of the House. That is the constitutional convention, and that is what our Standing Orders say.