Extension of period for forming an Executive

Part of Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:15 pm on 9th July 2019.

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Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn Chair, Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union, Chair, Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union 6:15 pm, 9th July 2019

I rise very briefly to support the amendments moved by Mr Grieve, although I have to say I find it extraordinary that we are even having a debate about Prorogation. I hope that the very idea of proroguing Parliament to deny Members of this House the chance to express a view about the Brexit process at the vital moment—whichever side of the debate one is on, it will have enormous implications for the future of our country—will seem to many so outrageous, so underhand and so shocking. I cannot really understand why any Member, when presented with the proposition, would not say, “Well, that is completely out of the question.” It is a direct threat to our ability to have our say and to express our views.

The second point I want to make is that, if the new Prime Minister were to think, “I might be able to get away with it,” and Prorogation were to happen, it is important that he understands—I am confident of this—that there would be many Members of the House who would be determined to sit, meet, debate and express their view anyway. I do not believe that the House of Commons would be silenced in those circumstances. It would profit the Prime Minister nothing if he were to attempt to do that. I hope the idea will disappear into the dustbin of history where it belongs. If we do not succeed in putting the idea there by persuading the new Prime Minister finally to come forward and say, “Okay, I will never do that in any circumstances,” then voting for the right hon. and learned Gentleman’s amendments tonight will be a very important step in helping it on its way.