Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:45 pm on 29th October 2019.

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(16) Standing Order No. 15(1) (Exempted business) shall apply so far as necessary for the purposes of this Order.

(17) Standing Order No. 82 (Business Committee) shall not apply in relation to any proceedings to which this Order applies.

(18) (a) No Motion shall be made, except by a Minister of the Crown, to alter the order in which any proceedings on the Bill are taken, to recommit the Bill or to vary or supplement the provisions of this Order.

(b) No notice shall be required of such a Motion.

(c) Such a motion may be considered forthwith without any Question being put; and any proceedings interrupted for that purpose shall be suspended accordingly. (d) The Question on such a Motion shall be put forthwith; and any proceedings suspended under sub-paragraph (c) shall thereupon be resumed. (e) Standing Order No. 15(1) (Exempted business) shall apply to proceedings on such a Motion.

(19) (a) No dilatory Motion shall be made in relation to proceedings to which this Order applies except by a Minister of the Crown.

(b) The Question on any such Motion shall be put forthwith.

(20) No debate shall be held in accordance with Standing Order No. 24 (Emergency debates) at today’s sitting after this Order has been agreed.

(21) Proceedings to which this Order applies shall not be interrupted under any Standing Order relating to the sittings of the House.

(22) No private business may be considered at today’s sitting after this Order has been agreed.

I am sure that hon. Members will appreciate that I do not wish to detain the House unduly. I hope that the House will support this business of the House motion so that we can move on to consider the stages of this Bill. This is a straightforward business of the House motion that will facilitate consideration of a short Bill, so that the House can agree the date of a general election. The motion sets aside up to six hours for consideration of the Bill, including up to four hours for the Second Reading, with the remaining time for Committee of the whole House and remaining stages.

To have a pre-Christmas election on 12 December, this Bill will need Royal Assent by 5 November for the House to dissolve just after midnight on 6 November. That general election timetable allows for the Northern Ireland Budget Bill to pass before Dissolution to ensure the Northern Ireland civil service can access the funding it needs to deliver public services and proper governance. The situation facing a number of Northern Ireland Departments has become critical, and the Bill is needed to allow the Northern Ireland civil service to continue to access the cash needed to deliver public services.

To ensure that the Bill receives Royal Assent to allow for Dissolution on 6 November and allow the 25 working days for the administration of the poll, it needs to proceed quickly. We have therefore proposed in the business motion that all Commons stages of the Bill happen today.

The Bill before the House is only two clauses long so is a very short Bill. It is also a simple Bill in that it seeks only to set the polling day as 12 December. The House should not therefore be disadvantaged by considering all stages of the Bill in one day.

Turning to the amendment tabled by the hon. Member for Walthamstow (Stella Creasy), the Government’s business motion provides for an efficient timetable for the consideration of this Bill, which is a straightforward piece of legislation for an election on 12 December. Of course, the Government recognise that the selection of amendments is a matter for the Speaker or Chairman of Ways and Means; however, it is entirely standard practice in this House for amendments not to be taken from Back-Bench MPs on Bills as simple as this one where an expedited timetable is required. While it may not be a wrecking amendment in itself, there is no doubt that it is a gateway to amendments that could seek to obstruct the Bill. The Bill is simply designed to give effect to what all four of the biggest parties in this House have now said they support—a December general election—nothing more, nothing less.