New Clause 15 - Guidance about illegal content judgements

Part of Online Safety Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:15 pm on 12th July 2022.

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Photo of Chris Bryant Chris Bryant Chair, Committee on Standards, Chair, Committee on Standards 5:15 pm, 12th July 2022

Further to that point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. As you know, “Erskine May” says very clearly:

“By established convention, the Government always accedes to the demand from the Leader of the Opposition” in regard to a no-confidence motion. There has been a very long tradition of all sorts of different kinds of votes of no confidence. Baldwin, Melbourne, Wellington and Salisbury all resigned after a vote on an amendment to the Loyal Address; they considered that to be a vote of no confidence. Derby and Gladstone resigned after an amendment to the Budget; they considered that to be a vote of no confidence. Neville Chamberlain resigned after a motion to adjourn the House, even though he won the vote, because he saw that as a motion of no confidence. So it is preposterous that the Government are trying to say that the motion that is being tabled for tomorrow somehow does not count.

Let me remind Government Members that on 2 August 1965, the motion tabled by the Conservatives was:

“That this House
has no confidence in Her Majesty’s Government and deplores the Prime Minister’s conduct of the nation’s affairs.”

I think this House agrees with that today.

Of course, we briefly had the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, which set in statute that there was only one way of having a motion of no confidence, but this Government overturned and repealed that Act. The then Minister, Michael Gove, came on behalf of the Government to tell the Joint Committee on the Fixed-term Parliaments Act:

“It seems to us to be cleaner and clearer to have a return to a more classical understanding of what a vote of confidence involves.”

It is simple: the Prime Minister is disgraced, he does not enjoy the confidence of the House, and if he simply tries to prevent the House from coming to that decision, it is because he is a coward.