Early parliamentary general election

Part of Early Parliamentary General Election Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:30 pm on 29th October 2019.

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Photo of Michael Tomlinson Michael Tomlinson Conservative, Mid Dorset and North Poole 6:30 pm, 29th October 2019

I am going to make a change in tack from the previous three speakers and actually speak to some of the amendments that have been tabled. However, I first want to pick up on the really important point made by my hon. Friend Andrew Percy at the end of his speech. We all heard about a “kinder, gentler politics”. I entirely agree with my hon. Friend and, like him, I look forward to fighting a positive campaign on the issues, seeing that kinder, gentler politics on the doorsteps and in the conduct of each of us. Perhaps that is a pledge that we can each make right here and right now.

I am also following the contribution from my right hon. Friend Sir Hugo Swire. It was a great pleasure to hear him speak. I hope he heard the cheers from the Back Benches, effectively crying for more. We cannot believe that he is retiring at such a young age and that this House will be deprived of his voice in future Parliaments. I say that with all sincerity. It was a great pleasure to hear him make a small contribution to this particular debate, following such a distinguished career in this place. It has been a great pleasure working alongside him in a number of campaigns.

I join Tommy Sheppard, who I think welcomed, very briefly, the technical amendment tabled in the name of my right hon. Friend the Minister. I, too, welcome that technical amendment and will be supporting it. I hope it will not be pressed to a Division.

I want to turn to amendment 2, which relates to the date of the election. We eventually heard the hon. Gentleman, after a 10-minute speech, turn to the clauses and the amendment. He gave what I thought were rather weak reasons for why he preferred 9 December to 12 December. Like my hon. Friend the Member for Brigg and Goole, I am perfectly prepared to fight an election on a Monday as much as a Thursday, but it seems to me that that is perhaps not the key point.

There are two key reasons why 12 December is to be preferred. The first is in relation to Northern Ireland business. It is incredibly important that the Northern Ireland Executive budget can complete its stages, so that the civil service can be in good shape and ensure that nurses, doctors and teachers are paid.