Skip to main content

Points of Order

Volume 666: debated on Tuesday 22 October 2019

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would like to ask your advice about what measures you think the House should be taking to deal with the possible security risk of the Government’s programme motion, which tomorrow sets us up so that all Members, staff and others will be leaving at the same time, when there is no public transport and the likelihood that there will not be enough taxis. Ministers may be able to go home in their ministerial cars, but for everyone else, including staff, this is surely a security risk. What advice can you give us about what precautions we can take?

I am very grateful to the hon. Lady for her point of order. I have not got immediate advice. I will consult the Parliamentary Security Director and report back to the House as expeditiously as I can. She has raised a serious point and it does warrant a serious response, and a serious response has to be a considered one, based on consultation. I hope that that is helpful to her for now.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The House is about to start a debate that is vital for our country’s future national interest, yet we have just a few hours to debate the principles of the Bill and, after that, just a few more hours in a matter of a couple of days in this House to table and debate amendments to the Bill. The Bill itself is not just a few clauses, but 115 pages long, with a long explanatory text. This House has a duty of care to the people of our country to make sure that we scrutinise and amend legislation and to hold the Government to account as appropriate. It is simply not possible to do that under the current programme motion, yet there is no chance even to debate the issue of what an appropriate amount of time for the programme motion would be; we will simply have a vote on it. Can you therefore give the House some advice about an appropriate amount of time to take on this Bill and, perhaps more importantly, your reflections on the importance of the duty of care this House holds to the British people to make sure that the legislation we will have to live under is scrutinised properly?

Everybody who has a responsibility to make a judgment, which means to vote on this matter, has an equal responsibility to study the legislation as carefully as possible before either speaking or voting. I recognise the very real constraint that now applies to Members trying to discharge that obligation, but doing anything about that is not within the gift of the Chair. What I would say to the right hon. Lady and others is that the House has ownership of this matter in the sense that the House is ultimately the determinant of the allocation of time, and the House will have to make its own judgment about that. However, I do not treat what the right hon. Lady has said lightly. If she talks to others and they feel like-minded, they must make their own representations or reach their own judgment about how to proceed. We will have to leave it there, I am afraid, for now.