Principles of Democracy and the Rights of the Electorate

Part of Business of the House – in the House of Commons at 3:55 pm on 26th September 2019.

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Photo of Maria Miller Maria Miller Chair, Women and Equalities Committee, Chair, Draft Domestic Abuse Bill (Joint) Committee 3:55 pm, 26th September 2019

We in this place are all custodians of this country’s democracy, and I think it is right that we should feel that as a heavy weight on our shoulders. In many ways, the reason why yesterday was such a difficult day in this Parliament is that we faced a perfect storm. We faced questions at the very heart of our principles of democracy. We faced questions about freedom of speech and the rule of law; fundamental questions about the very functioning of this Parliament, all of which are at the core of our democracy.

I will deal with each of those so that Members might reflect as we move forward on how we can strengthen our democracy and not undermine it, albeit unintentionally. Members are right that language matters in politics; behaviour matters in politics. I am afraid that the inflammatory language used by Members accusing others of being inflammatory was as damaging as damaging can be. We have to tread carefully in what yesterday became high politics, which risked people feeling as if they could not speak out in the way that they wanted in this Chamber.