On behalf of the whole House, I wish to express my deepest sympathies with the people of Australia as they continue to experience horrific wildfires, which are laying waste so much, and to send a message of solidarity to our Commonwealth colleagues in the Australian Parliament. We pay tribute to the firefighters and to all those who are putting their lives at risk.
The magnitude of the disaster unfolding in Australia should shock us all, with human and animal lives and precious species of fauna being destroyed. This is a wake-up call for the world. All Australians are in our thoughts and prayers. I rang the Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives five days ago to express our worries and concerns. There will be an oral statement on Thursday, so Members who wish to speak on the matter will be able to do so then.
I draw Members’ attention to the fact that the book for entering the private Member’s Bill ballot is now open. It will be open until the House rises today and while the House is sitting tomorrow. New Members should not forget that this is their great chance to make history—although the Whips may not wish them to do so. The book will be available for Members to sign in the No Lobby until 6 pm on both days, at which point it will be taken to the Public Bill Office and remain open for signatures until the rise of the House. The ballot itself will be drawn at 9 am this Thursday in the Wilson Room, Portcullis House. An announcement setting out these and other arrangements, including the dates on which ten-minute rule motions can be made and presentation Bills introduced, is published on the Order Paper.
I remind the House that the election of Deputy Speakers will take place tomorrow between 10 am and 1.30 pm in Committee Room 8. Nominations must be submitted to the Table Office by 6 pm today. Further details are in the announcements section of today’s Order Paper.