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Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:39 pm on 21st October 2019.

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Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Independent, Nottingham East 7:39 pm, 21st October 2019

I really do not want to be either greedy or unreasonable. I just think we need to be fair and give due diligence to this piece of legislation. I am not saying we should have—what was it?—the 23 days in Committee on the Maastricht treaty. By the way, when I was very young, I watched its passage from the Gallery in this place many moons ago. I know many Conservative Members, some of whom are still in the House, who fought that Maastricht legislation tooth and nail, and they tabled amendment after amendment during the 23 days in Committee. However, I bet hon. Members anything that if they were told at nearly 8 pm on a Monday night that they had to table amendments for a Committee stage that would take place some time on the Tuesday, the next day, they would be absolutely up in arms—and quite right too.

There are a number of consequences that follow, and they are relevant to the motion we are discussing now. For example, will Clerks be available this evening, and to what hour, for hon. Members to ask advice about drafting amendments that have to be taken tomorrow? Will those amendments tabled tonight be starred, which essentially means that there is no guarantee of their relevance on the amendment paper? What is the procedure in respect of tabling amendments this evening and their being regarded as legitimate? If they are tabled tomorrow morning, even at 8 am, will those amendments be valid, and equally valid by the time we get to the afternoon? People watching these proceedings may say, “Oh well, this is all very technical—this is the wiring of the House.” These things matter, because important amendments may need to be tabled.