Skip to main content

Business of the House (29 November)

Volume 617: debated on Monday 28 November 2016

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That, at the sitting on Tuesday 29 November, notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order No. 20 (Time for taking private business), the private business set down by the Chairman of Ways and Means may be entered upon at any hour (whether before, at or after 4.00pm) and may then be proceeded with, though opposed, for three hours, after which the Speaker shall interrupt the business.—(Michael Ellis.)

We rarely have the opportunity to debate this particular type of motion whereby we are changing the position under Standing Orders, which are here to protect Parliament from the Executive. The Standing Orders clearly say that opposed private business on a Tuesday should start at 4 o’clock and, in effect, run for three hours. The reason is so that the promotors of the Bill, and the people who support it and are interested in it, can know when they should be here. As MPs, we are here all the time. We should not inconvenience the promoters of private Bills, but that is routinely done. Standing Order No. 20 is not being suspended because there is a particular worry about what is going to happen tomorrow; that is happening because the Government routinely do it. If we get into a habit of letting the Government routinely suspend Standing Orders, which are here to protect Parliament, it is a dangerous course to tread.

Will the Deputy Leader of the House tell us why the motion is needed in this case? I have looked at tomorrow’s business, so I know that we could quite happily start with Government business. When we reach 4 o’clock, we could do the opposed private business, after which we could then return to the Government business. What happened time and again under previous Governments was that opposed private business was taken very late at night, which was not fair on the promoters of the Bills in question and was absolutely not the way to proceed. We should not be promoting Government business over the right of Parliament, so I would like the Deputy Leader of the House to tell us why we specifically need to do this in this case.

My hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone) has, not for the first time, made an interesting point. It is not the case that this is a routine matter, and I take on board what he has said. I undertake to review the situation, and we will write to him with a full and detailed explanation of the matter.

Question put and agreed to.