Application for emergency debate (Standing Order No. 24)
I now call the right hon. Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin) to make an application for leave to propose a debate on a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration under the terms of Standing Order No. 24. He has up to three minutes in which to make his application.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker.
Resume your seat.
It is about democracy.
Resume your seat. I do not require any lectures in democracy from the hon. Gentleman; I will advise him of precisely what the position is, and it will brook of no contradiction.
First, the hon. Gentleman was rather laggardly and slow in rising when I had already called the right hon. Member for West Dorset—untypically so, I readily acknowledge.
Secondly, I say to the hon. Gentleman, in terms of crystal clarity, that if he wishes to raise a point of order he will of course have an opportunity to do so; I challenge him to identify any occasion upon which I have sought to deny him, and I do not do so. I am simply saying that I will take the application first. There is subsequently a ten-minute rule motion before we proceed to any debate, if there be such. The hon. Gentleman is never knowingly understated or not heard when he wishes to be; I will hear him. Patience, sir; it will be rewarded. I call Sir Oliver Letwin.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. I can be brief; in the light of the Government’s decision to prorogue Parliament next week it has become an urgent matter for Parliament, and particularly this House, to discuss whether it can accept a no-deal exit. I therefore ask you to grant an urgent debate under Standing Order No. 24.
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his application, which is not entirely a matter of surprise either to Members of the House or large numbers of people outside it. I have heard what he said; I am familiar with his rationale; and I am satisfied that the matter is proper to be discussed under the terms of Standing Order No. 24. Does the right hon. Gentleman have the leave of the House?
Application agreed to.
The right hon. Gentleman clearly enjoys the support of the House. I will go further; I will be my normal generous self to the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone) in advertising for those who did not hear it that he was robustly objecting, which he is absolutely entitled to do. People need be in no doubt that there was an objection. In these circumstances, it is necessary for at least 40 Members to rise in their places to support the application. There is a very much larger number than 40 Members rising in support, so the right hon. Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin) has obtained the leave of the House.
The debate will be held today as the first item of public business. It will last for up to three hours—that is to say, if it starts before seven o’clock—and it will arise on a motion that the House has considered the specified matter set out in the application by the right hon. Gentleman.
We now come to the ten-minute rule motion. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Wellingborough is gesticulating—I will not even say chuntering—in a mildly eccentric manner from a sedentary position, and I am all agog to learn more of what he wishes to raise in his point of order.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. It was really just a procedural point, and I draw your attention to Standing Order No. 24 on page 33 of the Standing Orders. When a Standing Order No. 24 application is notified on a Tuesday, this has to be done by 10.30 in the morning. I inquired in the Vote Office after 10.30 this morning and was told that no Standing Order No. 24 application had yet been made, although they were expecting one. So it seemed to me that in those circumstances, this application could not be heard today and that it should have been heard tomorrow. That was why I was trying to make my point so early on, so that we did not have to go through with it. That seems very clear.
I understand the hon. Gentleman’s rationale, and I thank him for explaining his agitation to raise his point at an early stage. However, I must advise him—I must admit I thought he would have known this, because he is a keen partisan of parliamentary opportunities for Back Benchers—that the responsibility of a Member seeking to make such an application is to lodge that application with the Speaker. I can advise the hon. Gentleman that the application was lodged with me and my office yesterday evening, so it was well in time. Moreover, I hope that I carry the House with me in observing that, whatever people think of the right hon. Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin), his courtesy is unsurpassed by any other Member of this House, and it was partly on account of that courtesy and because he wanted his intentions to be entirely intelligible that he was keen that his motion, if judged orderly, should be published as early as possible. It was published some hours ago. So the hon. Member for Wellingborough has had a good try, but I think that his efforts on this occasion on that point have been exhausted. I would suggest that the courteous thing to do now would be to proceed with the ten-minute rule motion, for which the hon. Member for Croydon South (Chris Philp) has been patiently waiting.