Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:59 pm on 29th October 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Stella Creasy Stella Creasy Labour/Co-operative, Walthamstow 1:59 pm, 29th October 2019

I beg to move amendment (a), in paragraph (7) after subparagraph (b) insert—

“(ba) the Question on any amendment, new Clause or new Schedule selected by the Chair for separate decision;”.

Amendments (a) is about ensuring that whatever happens today the House can know that it was fair play. Last night, the Leader of the House told this place that, while we could not see the Bill before today, we could see the programme motion. A whole one copy was made available in the Table Office after 10 pm, and it showed that what the Government were trying to do was, in simple terms, rig today’s debate by removing the part of the Standing Orders that allows the Chair of proceedings the right to select any amendment, new clause or new schedule for vote.

To do that late at night, without any consultation with the Opposition and in the hope that nobody would notice, is frankly—I hope the Leader of the House understands this concept—not cricket. It is to admit that, rather than win the case for this Bill as it stands, the Executive want no challenge to it at all, and that, whether one thinks it is a good Bill or not, should be worry for us all. If we let this lie now, it will become standard practice in future.

This is not the first time the Government have tried such a measure when backed into a corner. They also did it on 24 October last year with Northern Ireland legislation. Thankfully, the Government saw sense and agreed to restore it, which is what amendment (a) would do today. It does not amend the Bill itself and does not encourage any particular selection; it simply reinstates the concept of fair play in this House by restoring our Standing Orders as they would be for any other legislation. In doing so it repairs both our rulebook and, frankly, our reputation.

Letting this programme motion through without the full list of rules is like letting Lance Armstrong keep his medals or Maradona benefit from the hand of God or accepting Major Ingram as a winner of “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”—[Interruption.] That reaction is the point in case. Let us not confirm the reputation that the public already think we have of backroom deals, cheats and liars. Whatever one thinks of this Bill , let it be won by fair play today, let us use the rulebook that has always been used, and add amendment (a) to this programme motion.

Question put, That the amendment be made.