Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:38 am on 3rd October 2019.

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Photo of Patrick Grady Patrick Grady SNP Chief Whip 10:38 am, 3rd October 2019

It is disappointing that prorogation is going ahead before Prime Minister’s Question Time can take place next week. My hon. Friend Hannah Bardell and I have been reflecting on the fact that the former Prime Minister, Mrs May, has probably spent more time on the Back Benches during Prime Minister’s questions since July than her successor has spent at the Dispatch Box, given his absence last week. I do not think that that is anything for the Government to be proud of.

The biggest loser from prorogation will be my hon. Friend Pete Wishart, who will not be able to present his Prime Minister (Nomination) and Cabinet (Appointment) Bill under the ten-minute rule next Wednesday. That will be a source of great disappointment to the House as a whole and, I am sure, the Government in particular, and to my hon. Friend. The only possible compensation will be the elevation to the Privy Council that he so richly deserves.

We are also very disappointed by the lack of Opposition days next week. We have made our requests through the usual channels; and, as we have pointed out before, Standing Orders allocate days to the leader of the third party, which will not now be granted. That must be getting very close to a contempt of the House, and it is at the very least a gross discourtesy to the third party. I urge the Leader of the House to reconsider his allocation of time for next week, important though the statutory instruments that he has scheduled are.

Perhaps we can end on a slight note of consensus. Last week, the Leader of the House spoke about Padre Pio. On 13 October, the Christian community in this country will celebrate the canonisation of John Henry Newman. The all-party parliamentary group on the Holy See will have a delegation representing the House in Rome, and the Prince of Wales will represent the Queen. I wonder whether anyone will represent Her Majesty’s Government. Next year will be the 10th anniversary of Pope Benedict’s visit to the UK and his important speech in Westminster Hall. Would the Leader of the House be willing to meet those of us with an interest in such things to discuss how that could be appropriately commemorated in the Houses of Parliament?