Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:41 pm on 30th December 2020.

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Photo of Valerie Vaz Valerie Vaz Shadow Leader of the House of Commons 5:41 pm, 30th December 2020

Yes, well, perhaps the right hon. Gentleman should be listening to Peston, not coming into the House.

I thank and pay tribute to all the NHS staff—all the carers, everyone in care homes and hospitals, and the ambulance drivers who are apparently lining up and are having to make decisions on who has an ambulance first, which is a terrible, terrible state to be in. The Leader of the House has announced a general debate on covid on Tuesday 12 January. Given that we have the Oxford vaccine now approved, may I ask for a statement from the vaccine Minister? We now have two lots of vaccine and we need to know exactly what is going on—perhaps a dashboard of how the vaccine is progressing throughout the country—because that will help us all to do our work.

The Leader of the House has announced a general debate on global Britain. He will now know that the incoming Biden-Harris Administration do not want to deal with the UK any more—they are going to deal with the EU directly, which is a pity—so it might actually be quite a short debate. But will he clarify the Foreign Secretary’s remarks when he said that British citizens should not expect support when they are abroad? I know the Leader of the House has been very assiduous, and I thank him and his staff for writing the letters to the Secretary of State when I have asked at the Dispatch Box, but has the British ambassador seen Nazanin and Anousheh? Certainly Anousheh also needs diplomatic protection, like Nazanin has.

Today was an unacceptable way to pass the most important piece of legislation that this Parliament is going to pass. Yes, we facilitated it, but that does not mean we agree with it. The EU has not said that this is the responsible thing to do. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster—[Interruption.] Perhaps hon. Members will just hang on for a second and listen to what I have to say rather than heckle; I know it is pantomime season, but even so. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster seemed to spend more time deriding leaders of the Opposition parties than actually saying why businesses should have a bumpy ride. We heard about Brussels tape, but in fact we are going to see a lot more Tory tape from now on as goods move from one side to another and we have a border in the Irish sea.

Will the Leader of the House’s new year resolution be about allowing Parliament to be respected a bit more, with statements made to the House, and particularly, on all our legislation that is passed, that the House will be told first, rather than those outside?

On behalf of the Opposition, I pay my condolences to Brian Binley’s family. He was a lovely, lovely man, and very kind to new Members.

As we celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Beethoven, and how his music was used to unite countries after the terrible war, I want to say a couple of lines from the “Ode to Joy”—because Labour Members will still be singing the “Ode to Joy”: “All that custom has divided, All men and women will be brothers and sisters, Under the sway of thy gentle wing.” I wish everyone a very happy new year.