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Prorogation (Disclosure of Communications)

Volume 664: debated on Monday 9 September 2019

Application for emergency debate (Standing Order No. 24)

I know that the House will join me in empathising with and showering congratulations for his forbearance upon the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve), who has been so patiently waiting for his opportunity. I now call the right hon. and learned Gentleman 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. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has up to three minutes in which to make his application.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I hope I may be briefer than that.

The House is about to be prorogued for five weeks. Two weeks after we return is the anticipated date on which we are going to leave the European Union. There is much that is left undebated. In particular, we will not have an opportunity to ask necessary questions of the Government in relation to their own prepared documents under Yellowhammer, which they have prepared for their own use in relation to the risks of a no deal. In addition to that, we will not have the opportunity to ask what I think are the necessary and, unfortunately, searching questions about the Government’s motives in proroguing this House and the potential difference between what they have said in public in this matter and what the evidence suggests is the reality.

For those reasons, I would ask for the opportunity, along with my right hon. and hon. Friends and other Members, to debate this matter under Standing Order No. 24 in the terms set out—I will not read it out here because everybody can have a copy—which include both an opportunity of debate and an Humble Address to enable us to get the documents that otherwise we will have no prospect of seeing before the anticipated date of our departure from the EU. I hope to take the opportunity in a few minutes, if the House agrees, to explain in detail why I think this is necessary. I want to emphasise that in having done an SO24 linked to an Humble Address, I have not taken this matter lightly and certainly not in a partisan way. I will explain exactly why when I have the opportunity of developing those arguments. I think they are very serious issues to which this House must give the closest consideration.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman asks me to propose a debate on a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration under the terms of Standing Order No. 24, namely the matter of prorogation with the imminence of an exit from the European Union. I have received the right hon. and learned Gentleman’s written application. I have listened carefully to what he has said on the Floor of the House. I am satisfied that the matter raised is proper to be discussed under Standing Order No. 24. Has the right hon. and learned Gentleman the leave of the House?

A very large number of Members are standing in support of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. I note that the very, very loud expression of opposition from the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone) is testament to the existence of more than enough support. Can I just say—well, whether I can or not, I am going to—that I do know what I am doing in these matters, I do know the Standing Orders, and I do listen to the advice? Sometimes you get these pop-up characters who think they understand these matters on the basis of minimal familiarity with the said Standing Orders and presume to say that the rules have been broken. They are entitled to their opinions, but they suffer from the notable disadvantage of being completely wrong. I know what the rules are and what they allow, and this is absolutely in keeping with the Standing Orders. If there are people who do not like the subject matter and would prefer it not to be aired and judge that it is inconvenient, they are perfectly entitled to their view, but it has nothing to do with the procedural propriety—[Interruption.] Do not tell me, young man, from a sedentary position what I can and cannot say. If the Under-Secretary of State for International Trade is not interested, he can leave the Chamber. I am not remotely interested in your pettifogging objection chuntered inelegantly from a sedentary position. The position is as I have described it, and quite frankly, young man, you can like it or lump it. People will understand that, as far as the Speaker is concerned, his job is to stand up for the rights of the legislature. I never have been, am not and never will be in the business of being bossed around by some footling member of the Executive branch.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman has obtained the leave of the House. The debate will be held now, as the first item of public business. The debate will last for two hours, and it will arise on a motion that the House has considered the specified matter set out in his application.