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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

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered the matter of prorogation with the imminence of an exit from the European Union and accordingly resolves—

That an Humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that she will be graciously pleased to direct Ministers to lay before this House, not later than 11.00pm Wednesday 11 September, all correspondence and other communications (whether formal or informal, in both written and electronic form, including but not limited to messaging services including WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal, Facebook messenger, private email accounts both encrypted and unencrypted, text messaging and iMessage and the use of both official and personal mobile phones) to, from or within the present administration, since 23 July 2019 relating to the prorogation of Parliament sent or received by one or more of the following individuals: Hugh Bennett, Simon Burton, Dominic Cummings, Nikki da Costa, Tom Irven, Sir Roy Stone, Christopher James, Lee Cain or Beatrice Timpson;
and that Ministers be further directed to lay before this House no later than 11.00pm Wednesday 11 September all the documents prepared within Her Majesty's Government since 23 July 2019 relating to operation Yellowhammer and submitted to the Cabinet or a Cabinet Committee.

I am sorry to have to move this motion, because it ought not to be necessary to do so.

When I was Attorney General, a lot of the work I had to do involved advising on law, but from time to time quite a lot of it was to do with propriety in government. We are very blessed in this country that, as well as obeying the rule of law, there is within government a deep understanding that if our constitution, which is largely unwritten, is to function, there has to be a high level of trust between different parts of government—whether it be Parliament or the Administration—in how our affairs are conducted. I am glad to say that, in my experience, if and when I ever had to step in as Attorney General to point out that I thought propriety might be in danger of being infringed, I always had a positive response from my colleagues in government about the necessity at all times to be seen to be acting with clean hands.