Prorogation (Disclosure of Communications)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:14 pm on 9th September 2019.

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Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Independent, Beaconsfield 5:14 pm, 9th September 2019

Seeing that this would be a Humble Address to Her Majesty the Queen for the documents, I very much hope that there could be no question other than that they will be provided, because it is the custom and practice and the convention that such Humble Addresses are responded to positively by the Government.

The reason why we have these rules is to manage difference. They provide a framework for our debates that—because, as I say, there is a high level of trust— enables us to manage sometimes serious difference, such as we undoubtedly have at the moment, in a moderate fashion. We are able sometimes to say strong words to each other, but to come together afterwards with a high level of appreciation of the other’s point of view and an absolute certainty that one side is not trying to trick the other. My concern is that there is now increasing and compelling evidence that this trust is breaking down and, indeed, that there is cause to be concerned that the conventions are not being maintained.

This of course arises particularly because of the decision to prorogue this House. I do not think I need to go into too much history to point out that, in recent years, the power of Prorogation has been used for only two reasons. The first is to have the short interval, usually of no more than seven or eight days, between one Session and the next, so that a Queen’s Speech may take place. It has also been used at times to extend time for a general election in order to maintain a power by which this House could be recalled in an emergency before it is finally dissolved. The use being made of it by the Government in proroguing this House until 14 October is, in current times, unprecedented. It is a long period, and all the more startling because it takes place against the background of what is without doubt—it is a bit difficult to gainsay it—a growing national crisis.