Leaving the Eu: Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:35 pm on 12th June 2019.

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Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Father of the House of Commons 3:35 pm, 12th June 2019

Mr Speaker, I am sorry that I surprised you. I am not sure that I wrote in beforehand, but I shall endeavour to be brief. I intend to be brief because there are not many complicated issues here.

The first issue to which I want to respond is the procedural point that the Secretary of State wisely tried to retreat into, citing a few constitutional experts saying how outrageous it is for the House of Commons to try to take control of the Order Paper. Indeed, that very rarely happens but, with great respect to much more distinguished experts than me, such as Vernon Bogdanor, we have already demonstrated once that procedures already exist, which can be used—as they were by Yvette Cooper—in very exceptional circumstances, for the House as a whole to take command of a day’s business. Of course, the reason it did not happen for many years is that most Governments have had a comfortable majority on every conceivable subject, so there was not the faintest prospect of their losing control of the Order Paper and nobody challenged them. However, we are in exceptional times and the precedent we have already created is a perfectly valuable one.