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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 do not always agree with what happens in the Scottish Parliament or the Welsh Assembly, but they certainly have a right to be consulted, and certainly when a Bill of this magnitude is being railroaded through. If it were a one or two-page Bill with a couple of clauses, the Leader of the House would have a case to make: it would be a simple issue, and hon. Members could be fully aware of its contents.

There was no reason why the Government had to wait until this evening to publish the Bill. I do not understand the notion that it had to be withheld. I went to the Vote Office earlier this evening and asked to see a copy of the Bill. I was told, “Oh no, not until First Reading.” The Government have published draft legislation online for many years, so there was an attempt to withhold details—deliberately, I suspect—from hon. Members until after 7.30 pm, to make it as difficult as possible for me and other hon. Members to take the time to look at the Bill, find its flaws, draft amendments, consult the Clerks and ask for their assistance with the legal framing of such amendments, perhaps consult colleagues to obtain signatures for the amendments—there are only a number of hours to do that—then table the amendments in time for the Committee stage tomorrow of a Bill that has not even had a Second Reading. It really is a ridiculous state of affairs.