Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:00 pm on 3rd April 2019.

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Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee 5:00 pm, 3rd April 2019

None of us—myself included—has Kantian perfect information on the subject, and I witnessed that there was some uncertainty. What I can vouchsafe to the hon. Gentleman, without causing any offence, is that in so far as there was some uncertainty about the vote, it was about whether it was 310 each or whether, as in the view of one Government Whip—it was not advanced with great certainty—the Government might have secured 311 votes. I do not think that there is any suggestion that the decision has worked against Hilary Benn. In the event that there was an error, I think that I will resort to the Willie Whitelaw defence at this stage: let us cross that bridge if we come to it. I am not anticipating that we will do so. I thought it prudent to ask the Government and Opposition Chief Whips to confirm, and they did so amicably, as far as I know, and appeared to reach an agreed conclusion. There is no need to create a row, on top of all other rows, where there is none.