Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:11 pm on 26th September 2019.

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Photo of Jacob Rees-Mogg Jacob Rees-Mogg Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 2:11 pm, 26th September 2019

The hon. Lady says, quite correctly, that this is no way to run a Parliament, which is why we should have a general election as soon as possible. If only Labour Members would vote for it and have the courage of their convictions, we would have one. She then complains that the Attorney General has called this a turkey Parliament. I think it is more of a chicken Parliament, because it is trying to flap away from the general election that we need and that would clear the air. We get gesticulation and murmurations coming forth from the Labour Benches saying that we are going to get one, but when? The country wants one as soon as possible. Rather than “dead”, I would use the word “addled”, like the Parliament of 1614, which was known as the addled Parliament. This, I think, may also come to be known in such a way.

The hon. Lady mentions Dr Nicholl; I am happy to repeat the apology I gave before. She referred to a question that I answered at some length yesterday on the question of a coup. I pointed out that if things are said in Cabinet, the 30-year rule means that they will come out in 30 years, but just because newspapers print gossip from Cabinet meetings does not make it fact. I fully support and stand by what the Prime Minister has said, which I will read out again for the benefit of hon. and right hon. Members, which is:

“I have the highest respect, of course, for the judiciary and the independence of our courts, but I must say I strongly disagree with the judgment, and we in the UK will not be deterred from getting on and delivering on the will of the people to come out of the EU on 31 October, because that is what we were mandated to do.”

That is my position.

The hon. Lady mentioned a number of Bills that are blocked. One of the advantages of Prorogation, had it taken place, was that we could start afresh with new Bills, better Bills, bigger Bills and brilliant Bills, and that is what will happen when eventually we get to the Queen’s Speech. She asked about the timing of the Queen’s Speech. The best thing for me to tell her is that that is being discussed with Black Rod. Very few changes need to be made in this Chamber for a Queen’s Speech, but quite a number of changes need to be made in the House of Lords, in addition to the unsightly barriers that are there for security, which of course are removed prior to a Queen’s Speech, and the road closures associated with that. We are trying to work out simply the timings, to ensure that any Prorogation meets the requirements of the Supreme Court’s judgment.

The hon. Lady asked for a debate on the Electoral Commission’s report. It is obviously key and in all our interests that electoral registers should be up to date, though some of us also feel it is important that parliamentary constituencies should be up to date, which would be beneficial. I note with great interest that some Opposition Members are keen on boundary changes.

Finally, the hon. Lady asked me about the dual nationals held illegally by Iran and whether I have had any conversations with the Foreign Secretary. Indeed, I asked him about it yesterday, and he has spoken to his Iranian counterpart about all the dual nationals—including, of course, Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe—as did the Prime Minister when he saw the President of Iran on the fringes of the meeting in the United Nations. I hope I can reassure the hon. Lady that the Government continue to push, and I thank her for continuing to push, because repeating things every week is powerful and keeps people on their toes, and I hope she will continue to do that.