Early parliamentary general election

Part of Early Parliamentary General Election Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:15 pm on 29th October 2019.

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Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Chair, European Scrutiny Committee, Chair, European Scrutiny Committee 7:15 pm, 29th October 2019

The clause stand part provisions raise very important questions of principle, which we must consider very carefully. It all goes to the question of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 itself. On Second Reading, I made the point very clearly—for those who are interested in looking at how that disgraceful Act was put through the House—that I was very, very strongly against it. I looked through the Division lists earlier on. I see my right hon. Friend Sir Desmond Swayne in his place—I think that he was the Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Prime Minister at the time. I incurred the wrath of the Prime Minister by my absolute determination to do everything possible to ruin the Fixed-term Parliaments Act. In fact, I am afraid to say that we managed to muster only 10 Members of Parliament, and not always that. On one occasion, I found myself with just one other person—the then Member of Parliament for Aldridge Brownhills, Sir Richard Shepherd. He and I ended up as the only ones who voted on that. That is why I am specifically thinking about the manner in which this important Bill is being brought through the House. There was a particular amendment that I took the gravest interest in during the passage of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, and we are now dealing with an amendment to make provision for a parliamentary general election to be held on 9 December as compared with 12 December—the date in the Bill itself. It has already been ruled that clause stand part is an integral part of these proceedings, and I have every intention of making the points that I want to make on that, having had the ruling that I did from the previous incumbent of the Chair.

I refer to a very important website called the Public Whip. When I got my information from the Library today, I noticed that the Public Whip said that I—the Member of Parliament for Stone—was very “strongly against” the Fixed-term Parliaments Act. I can tell hon. Members why, and it is very simple. I was against it because it gave the Whips an undemocratic power and created the shenanigans of upsetting the rule regarding simple majorities for general elections; and that is why we are in the mess we are in now.