Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:59 am on 6th February 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jacob Rees-Mogg Jacob Rees-Mogg Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 10:59 am, 6th February 2020

May I reiterate the thanks to Paul Kehoe? I have been holding roundtables with new Members, and I have said to them all when they have come to see me that if they want to know what is really going on in this Chamber, they should ask the Doorkeepers, because they are always better informed than anybody else— certainly better informed than me and, dare I whisper it quietly, sometimes even the Whips. We are very lucky to be so well served by a fantastic team of endlessly courteous and patient people who take such delight in their service to our Parliament. We are really privileged.

May I also reiterate the right hon. Lady’s thanks to the emergency services for their response in Streatham? I share her concern for the people who have been injured, both psychologically and physically, and thank her for the promise of co-operation in ensuring that the legislation can be brought forward effectively and swiftly. I assure her that the Government wish to work with the Opposition on this and that therefore her offer is received in the spirit in which is in intended. We will make every effort to ensure that the Opposition are satisfied with the way that we respond.

As to Select Committees, the European Scrutiny Committee will be set up at the same time as all the other Committees, which will be done as soon as is practicable. We attach great importance to proper scrutiny.

The right hon. Lady asked me about events at Downing Street and the briefings that have been given, and referred kindly to my antecedents in this area. With reference to my antecedents in this area, it is perfectly normal for journalists to be given different briefings. Sometimes some journalists are briefed, sometimes specific journalists are briefed, and sometimes there is a general lobby briefing. That has been going on since my father joined the lobby in the 1950s, which really is a reasonably long time ago—although not quite as long ago as when my right hon. Friend Sir Edward Leigh was referring to in earlier proceedings. What went on was perfectly normal. David Frost is a special adviser, it is routine for special advisers to give briefings to specialist journalists, and that was precisely what was happening.

As for COP26, the Prime Minister is taking a personal interest in this. It is a matter to which he is personally deeply committed. He gave detailed responses yesterday in response to six questions from the Leader of the Opposition, and it would seem, dare I say it, otiose for me to repeat the wise words of the Prime Minister.

I am very interested in what the right hon. Lady said about local authorities and the use of personal data, and I share her concern, although I must confess that I was previously unaware of this issue. Local authorities have a duty to be careful about the personal data they pass on, and I think this is a matter for the Information Commissioner.

With regard to Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the junior Minister in the Foreign Office spoke to the Iranian embassy earlier in the week. There is a continued correspondence flow of representations, but we must always remember that the Iranian Government are behaving unlawfully under international law in holding Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe. We have to keep on pressing, but when a state of that kind refuses to follow international norms, there are limits to what the Government can do. I deeply regret that, but I assure the right hon. Lady that the Government will continue to press, and I hope that the Iranian Government will eventually be shamed into behaving properly.