On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. At this morning’s sitting of the Select Committee on Exiting the European Union, the Department’s permanent secretary, Philip Rycroft, confirmed that approximately 800 pieces of legislation were required to come through Parliament before the end of February, regardless of the outcome of negotiations. He said:
“Our planning demonstrates that it is possible to achieve that, but there is a lot of work to do in order to manage it.”
When asked whether this was realistic, he said:
“This has been discussed a lot within Government”
and that it is
“challenging for us and for Parliament”.
Indeed, these 800 statutory instruments represent more than the total number of SIs that passed through Parliament last year. When asked whether there had been any discussion on whether Parliament’s hours may need to be extended, he said
“I would refer you to the Leaders of both Houses”.
Mr Speaker, have you had any conversations with the Leader of the House about or been aware of any potential plans to change the hours of this House because of the volume of SIs that will need to be approved by Parliament prior to Brexit? If so, do you know when any such proposals will be coming to this House?
I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her point of order and for her characteristic courtesy in giving me advance notice of it. The short answer to her inquiry is that I have not had any such discussions with the Leader of the House on the specific matters that the hon. Lady raises. Members in all parts of the House will be aware that a European Statutory Instruments Committee was appointed just before the recess. Its work will be highly relevant to the points that she makes, and I have no doubt—and every expectation, therefore—that it will be beginning its work without delay. I am also sure that there will be further discussions on these matters—the time allocated for the consideration of such instruments and, possibly, issues relating to the length of time for which the House sits, in the light of the need for effective scrutiny—over the next few months. Form must follow function, as in architecture, if we are to do our jobs properly.