My Lords, I assume that we are debating this Motion. In his characteristically emollient and persuasive way, the Leader of the House is actually announcing what a shambles the Government’s legislative programme is in. As he said, towards the end of a Session, it is normal to have government business on a Thursday, and I know that this has been agreed between the usual channels, but the Motion says that government business will take precedence
“until the end of the session”.
The end of the Session should be in May. It is a good discipline that Sessions normally last a year, to make sure that the Government get their act together in time and can deliver on their promises in the Queen’s Speech at the end of the year—that is what happens.
However, we now know, at least in part, that the Session will end not in May but in the autumn, whenever that may be—that is the best date I could find in searching the internet—so it may be six or seven months before the end of the current Session. Of course, the next one may be truncated because there may be a general election —who knows? This Motion says that the Government can carry on having their business on a Thursday until the end of an unspecified Session that will go on until an unknown date. Couple this with the fact that not getting their act together has been a behaviour pattern of this Government since 1970; we have had at least two two-year parliamentary Sessions that I can remember, and this one will apparently last at least 18 months.
I am not happy with this Motion. It has been agreed by the usual channels, and I can understand why this gets done; I know that we are getting a few extra days. But it is an important discipline for a Parliament and a Government, even more so, that they announce a legislative programme that can be done in 12 months and do their best to deliver during that period. Perhaps, at the very least, the noble Lord could help the House by telling us when the next Queen’s Speech will be—we would know where we are then.