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Terrorist Offenders (Restriction of Early Release) Bill (Business of the House)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:33 pm on 12th February 2020.

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Photo of Alistair Carmichael Alistair Carmichael Liberal Democrat Chief Whip, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) 12:33 pm, 12th February 2020

I beg to move a manuscript amendment, in paragraph (6), after sub-paragraph (b) insert—

“(ba) the question on any amendment, new clause or new schedule selected by the chairman or Speaker for separate decision;”.

The Secretary of State will be aware that the business motion that he has just moved, without any explanation whatsoever, replicates the provisions of Standing Order 83D faithfully in every respect bar one, which is that it omits the contents of Standing Order 83D(2)(c), which provides that at the conclusion of proceedings the Question may be put on

“any amendment, new clause or new schedule selected by the chair for separate decision”.

The effect of the omission of that provision from the business motion before the House is that if the debate continues until the conclusion of the time allowed in the business motion, there will be no Division on any amendments moved in Committee.

At the very least, the House is entitled to hear an explanation from those on the Treasury Bench as to why we should see your power restricted in that way, Mr Speaker. It may be that ultimately this is all academic—it may be that we conclude proceedings before the expiry of time, or it may be that there will simply be no amendment that anybody wishes to move at the conclusion of proceedings—but there remains an important point of principle at stake, which is that surely we should hear the debate first before we make decisions of that sort, and that if it is the will of the House at the conclusion of the time allowed, then you, Mr Speaker, should have the power to put any Question from the Chair. It is entirely regrettable that the Secretary of State, in moving the motion, did not offer any explanation to the House as to why the Government, through us, should seek to fetter your power in this way.

It is worth bearing in mind that although what the Government are doing today in bringing forward a Bill and going through all its stages in one day is not by any means unusual, it is still quite extraordinary. The Government rely on co-operation from all parts of the House in order to do that. They have had that co-operation, so why do they now seek to restrict the power that you, Mr Speaker, have to call Divisions at the end of the Committee stage?