Women and Equalities

– in the House of Commons at 10:00 pm on 8th April 2019.

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Motion made,

That Mr Gavin Shuker be discharged from the Women and Equalities Committee and Stephanie Peacock be added.—(Bill Wiggin, on behalf of the Selection Committee.)

Hon. Members::

Object.

Photo of Yvette Cooper Yvette Cooper Chair, Home Affairs Committee

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Both Houses of Parliament have tonight strongly made clear their view that a no deal would be deeply damaging to jobs, manufacturing and the security of our country, and they have also set out support for the Prime Minister in securing an agreement later this week. But these are unprecedented circumstances, so can I please put on record my strong thanks to the Clerks of the House who have made it possible for us to put forward this cross-party legislation in these very unusual circumstances? We are hugely grateful for the Clerks’ expertise, without which it would not be possible for any Back Bencher or any Member to propose amendments or legislation in any form. That has proved particularly important in these extremely unusual and fast-moving circumstances.

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

I thank the right hon. Lady for what she has said. Notwithstanding the existence of strongly differing opinions on this legislation, and on the wider issue of Brexit, I hope that all colleagues will share in the appreciation for the skill and dedication of our professional staff. Colin Lee, the Clerk at the Table sitting in front of me, is well known to many throughout the House as a quite outstanding public servant, and the same is true of the whole team who serve us so well and so faithfully and dispassionately day after day. That is respected, and I appreciate the fact that it has been put on the record by the right hon. Lady.

Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn Chair, Committee on Exiting the European Union

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Given the unusual speed with which the legislation we have just approved has passed through both Houses, and given the Leader of the House’s business statement earlier today, are you able to advise us whether there is confidence that Royal Assent will indeed be granted tonight so that the motion under the Act—I think I am the first person to refer to it as an Act—once Royal Assent has been given, can be considered tomorrow?

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

The short answer is that I am cautiously optimistic on that front. Steps are being put in train to ensure that Royal Assent is obtained before the House rises tonight. I thank the right hon. Gentleman for giving me the opportunity to provide that information to the House.

Photo of Sarah Wollaston Sarah Wollaston Chair, Health and Social Care Committee, Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee Sub-committee on the effectiveness and influence of the select committee system

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. May I put it on record that today the Prime Minister has found time to meet the 1922 committee but, I regret to say, we still do not have a date for her to meet the Liaison Committee? I know that you have already pointed out to the House that that is part of the House’s ability to hold the Prime Minister to account at this important time. Will you join me in hoping that the Government Front Bench will, again, pass on to the Prime Minister a formal request for her to set a date?

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

I am certainly very happy to join the hon. Lady in the expression of that request. I make no comment on the other gathering in front of which the Prime Minister may have appeared. Certainly, as far as the House is concerned, the point that the Chair of the Liaison Committee makes is of the highest importance. The role of the Liaison Committee in holding the Executive to account and, in particular, holding the Prime Minister to account can hardly be overstated. The Liaison Committee is a greatly respected body. The custom and practice whereby the Prime Minister regularly appears before it are now very well established. It would seem to me to be highly desirable that an appearance should take place sooner rather than later.

Photo of Ian Murray Ian Murray Labour, Edinburgh South

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I do not wish to detain the House, but further to the point of order from my right hon. Friend Hilary Benn, I want to seek your guidance on the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill, which is heading for Royal Assent this evening. I want to seek your guidance on the procedures of this House, given the business statement for tomorrow, should there be unusual circumstances and the Bill not receive Royal Assent this evening.

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

My feeling is that as long as Royal Assent is given by tomorrow morning, the motion should be unaffected. It would, however, be—how can I put it?—altogether tidier if Royal Assent were achieved tonight. The hon. Gentleman is, in a sense, the opposite of Dr Pangloss: he is working on the basis of the worst case scenario that could arise. What I would say is, it is not that bad.