United Kingdom Internal Market Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:17 pm on 14th September 2020.

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Photo of Charles Walker Charles Walker Chair, Administration Committee, Chair, Administration Committee 8:17 pm, 14th September 2020

I hope I will not be too foul tempered tonight, Mr Deputy Speaker; it is not a disposition I warm to.

There is a worrying trend—a worrying narrative—emerging, and this debate is a good opportunity to get a lot of things on the record, as I build an argument in the next 2 minutes and 45 seconds. First, I am extremely concerned that we are placing severe restrictions on people’s liberties without any recourse to Parliament. I would actually vote, in certain circumstances, to take people’s liberties away if I thought it was in the national interest, but I would like to have the chance to debate it on the Floor of the House and represent the concerns of my constituents.

I am also concerned that we go around arresting old men in Trafalgar Square for having a peaceful protest and fining them £10,000. I never thought I would ever be defending Mr Corbyn in the Chamber, but I am—I am defending a Corbyn. We have to be allowed to protest without fear of arrest and being fined, and today we hear that the public will be urged to inform on their friends and neighbours, because granny has followed grandad into a family home of five. This is a profoundly un-conservative thing.

All these things are un-conservative, and I do think that we are being asked here to put this country—this House, Members of this House, our constituents—on the wrong side of the law before we have exhausted all other options. I am no fan of the EU—I was in every single Division Lobby for Brexit and I think the EU is a pain in the neck—but surely we have to exhaust all other options before we press the nuclear button.

I will not be voting for the Bill’s Second Reading, because if you keep whacking a dog, you shouldn’t be surprised when it bites you back. We are all Members of Parliament and we deserve to be taken seriously. I accept that there is a pandemic and a national crisis, but surely that is the time when our voices should be heard on behalf of our constituents. It is the most important time, so I hope—I see the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in his place—the Government go away tonight and the Prime Minister reflects on what is going on, listens to the concerns of this House and comes back with a solution that allows me to skip through the Lobby on Third Reading and support him on this important Bill. I do believe, colleagues, that the Conservative party is the greatest political party ever, and we have to have the courage to live up to that greatness.