Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:39 am on 18th July 2019.

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Photo of Mel Stride Mel Stride Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 10:39 am, 18th July 2019

May I thank the hon. Lady for her questions and express, as she did, disappointment that Pete Wishart is not in his place? I had lined up numerous dreadful gags at his expense, which we will now probably never hear. I also thank the hon. Lady for welcoming the pre-recess Adjournment debate; I was pleased that we were able to accommodate that. She referred at one point to “hitting his stride”, but I thought we were going to outlaw all bullying and harassment in this place—I obviously have a wolf in sheep’s clothing opposite me.

I feel sure that there will be an opportunity for the House to hear from the new Prime Minister next week, although clearly I cannot comment on the precise circumstances that may pertain to that; that will be a matter for him, whoever he is.

The hon. Lady also raised the issue of the recess dates beyond 3 September, and what I would say in response is that that, once again, will be a matter for the new Prime Minister to decide upon, and whoever is the Leader of the House at that time will come forward and make the announcement in the usual way.

The hon. Lady raised a number of matters around no deal, and she asked whether I thought the Chancellor’s assessment that the impact of no deal will cost the economy £90 billion or that of another person—I think I know who that other person is—who suggested that it might actually add to the economy by some £80 billion was right; I suspect the answer lies somewhere between those two figures.

The hon. Lady also rightly raised yet again the issue of the Select Committee on no deal, and when that motion will be coming before the House. I am afraid that I have nothing to add today to what I have said before on this subject, which is that I am engaged with our end of the usual channels and am keen to see that motion coming forward. At the earliest opportunity I will return to the House with further information on that.

The hon. Lady once again raised the issue of Prorogation, and of course there are a number of circumstances in which Prorogation may occur, but the essential principle here is that it should not occur simply as a device to exempt Parliament from the important decisions that there will be around no deal or a deal as we approach the end of October.

The hon. Lady, once again quite rightly, raised the issue of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and the news that she has now been moved to a psychiatric hospital. This is a lady who, as we know, went to Iran simply to visit friends and family. She has now been detained for around three years. That is totally unacceptable. As the hon. Lady pointed out, my office has been in close engagement with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The latest update I have, as of tomorrow, is that discussions have been held at a senior level between the Foreign Office and the Iranian regime, and that we are again urging that Nazanin be released and returned to her family here in the United Kingdom. I will welcome every occasion on which the hon. Lady raises this matter because, like her, I believe it to be extremely important. She also raised the issue of female genital mutilation and made the important point that it is nothing less than an assault. She is absolutely right about that.

The hon. Lady also expressed her pleasure at the fact that Alan Turing will appear on the £50 note, and I share that, not just because of the huge contribution that he made to perhaps shortening the war with his code-breaking activities, but because this is indicative of how far we have advanced as a civilised society.

Finally, the hon. Lady mentioned the moon landing and said that she had seen it on television. I find that extraordinary, given that it happened in 1969. She cannot possibly be old enough to have been cognisant of that event at the time, but we all, right across the House, celebrate that one giant step for the whole of mankind.