Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 11:23 am on 11th April 2019.

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Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 11:23 am, 11th April 2019

I thank the hon. Lady for her comments. I join her in wishing the Chairman of the Backbench Business Committee a very happy birthday for Easter Sunday. Yesterday, I had the huge pleasure of attending Privy Council at Windsor castle. I can tell the House that Her Majesty is in excellent form. I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her personal tribute to the Queen.

The hon. Lady asks for an update on ministerial responsibilities. She knows that that will be provided as soon as it can be done.

The hon. Lady asks about the Prime Minister’s policy on Brexit. She will be aware that the Prime Minister made a statement yesterday, in which she said:

The UK should have left the EU by now and I sincerely regret the fact that I have not yet been able to persuade Parliament to approve a deal which would allow the UK to leave in a smooth and orderly way.”

She went on to add:

“we have a duty as politicians to find a way to fulfil the democratic decision of the referendum, deliver Brexit and move our country forward.”

I totally agree with the Prime Minister.

The hon. Lady asks about certain negative procedure statutory instruments. It is, of course, a matter of parliamentary convention that, where a reasonable request for a debate has been made, time should be allowed for that debate. I think we have demonstrated in this Session that the Government have been willing to provide time in line with the convention to accede to reasonable requests. I encourage her to raise her request through the usual channels.

The hon. Lady raised particular questions about ID pilots and the gender pay gap. She will be aware that we have had urgent questions on both those issues in the last week, so I hope that they answered her questions. She talked about inequality. She should celebrate, as we all should, that the employment rate is at a record high; that we have the lowest unemployment since the 1970s; that over 4 million of the lowest earners were taken out of income tax altogether between 2010 and 2015; and that, importantly, the top 5% of earners are paying half of all income tax. That is absolutely vital; those with the broadest shoulders are carrying the heaviest burden.

Finally, I join the hon. Lady in celebrating the 21st anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday agreement, which has been so important in ensuring peace in Northern Ireland.