Skip to main content

Business of the House

Volume 700: debated on Tuesday 7 September 2021

Following the statement just made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on a sustainable plan for the NHS and social care, I should like to make a short business statement regarding business for tomorrow and the rest of the week. The business will now be:

Wednesday 8 September—Consideration of a Ways and Means resolution on health and social care levy.

Thursday 9 September—Motion relating to the second report of Session 2021-22 from the Committee on Standards, followed by remaining stages of the Rating (Coronavirus) and Directors Disqualification (Dissolved Companies) Bill, followed by a general debate on the legacy of Jo Cox. The subject for this debate was determined by the Backbench Business Committee.

Friday 10 September—Private Members’ Bills.

As usual, I will make a business statement on Thursday.

I thank the Leader of the House for advance sight of the statement.

This morning, the Cabinet was bounced into the Prime Minister’s so-called social care plan, and now the Leader of the House is trying to bounce Parliament into accepting it in a vote tomorrow. This is no way to run a Government. It is no way to run a country. This Tory tax rise will not come in till next spring, so why the rush? Does he know that he will never get it past his Back Benchers and through Parliament otherwise? Is he making sure that his own MPs have as little time as possible to consult their constituents or hear from stakeholders and experts? He would not be the first Minister in his Government to forget that emails will be coming into his colleagues’ inboxes right now.

The Leader of the House recently reminded the Prime Minister of the fate of one-term President George H. W. Bush and his words on taxes, which were not heeded. Will the Leader of the House be voting against his Government tomorrow, or was that another example of more empty rhetoric?

The Government are in crisis-management mode, lurching from one disaster to the next. They are trying to cover up the fact that they do not actually have a plan; they only have a tax rise. The haste on this vote is to cover up a litany of broken promises and failures. There is nothing for carers, there is nothing to help people to stay living in their own homes, and there is nothing to help the council funding shortfall that successive Tory Governments have caused.

The Prime Minister stood on the steps of Downing Street two years, one month and 14 days ago vowing to

“fix the crisis in social care once and for all…with a clear plan”

that was “prepared”, but here we aren’t—this is not a clear plan, and it does not seem very prepared. This was just an attempt to fix an NHS funding gap that this Government, and successive Tory Governments before them, caused. Now that we have been waiting for more than two years, why the sudden haste? Today we see why: they just want to rush it through without proper consultation.

That was a fine example of sound and fury which signifieth nothing. It is entirely routine for matters to be brought before the House in this way. Whenever a Budget comes forward, the Budget resolutions may be voted on that very evening. It has always been the case that matters relating to taxation are dealt with swiftly, because it is important to ensure that people are not able to take forestalling measures and so forth which become possible if taxation is not dealt with properly.

Tomorrow is in fact about dealing with the Standing Orders of this House, which require a Ways and Means resolution before legislation may be brought forward. The legislation will be brought forward in due course, and I will announce it in a business statement. All of this is completely routine and standard. I am afraid that the more the Labour party says that there is no plan, when a plan has been published, detailed by the Prime Minister and announced to the world, the more it shows the vacuity of the opposition—an Opposition who learn nothing and remember nothing.

I congratulate the Government on the Prime Minister’s giving another statement to the House. That is two in two days, I think. He has been one of the most active Prime Ministers in Parliament.

On the business statement, can the Leader of the House give us an assurance on the amount of time for tomorrow’s debate? I welcome the early debate, but I want to ensure that there is enough time for Members to get in. Has he any view on the length of the debate?

The House may be surprised that, in the absence of call lists, it is much harder to plant questions. However, my hon. Friend’s is extraordinarily useful, because I am pleased to tell the House that the whole of tomorrow will be available for the Ways and Means resolution, subject, of course, to urgent questions at the discretion of Mr Speaker, and statements that may prove necessary.

I thank the Leader of the House for his short statement.

We are getting this “everything’s normal and as it should be” tone from the Leader of the House, even though he knows that nothing is normal about what he is doing tomorrow. I am sure that he is thrilled that the very thing he profoundly opposes will be debated and voted on tomorrow. I remember reading over the weekend:

“Read my lips: no new taxes.”

He is right; people did remember those words, and they will remember them again. Perhaps we will see those defiant lips move in accordance with a matter of principle for him and see him vote against these measures when they come before the House.

Following on from the question asked by the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone), I am wondering whether one day is enough for all this. We need to hear from countless Tory Members apologising to their constituents for breaking their manifesto pledge not to raise tax, VAT or national insurance. We particularly want to hear from all the red wall Tories, who are now going to have to explain to all their new voters that they will have to swallow this regressive move and how it will impact on them. We will want to hear from Scotland, too, as we will be invited to pay twice for the Government’s social care mess for services that we have already legislated on. All I can say to the Leader of the House is that these lips were made for talking.

One had noticed that the hon. Gentleman’s lips were made for talking. It is done a great deal and usually to the great entertainment of the House. I am delighted, flattered, thrilled by so many people reading my comments in the Sunday Express. I do a weekly wisdom for them. As my wife points out to me, being wise once a week is probably as much as can be expected of me. None the less, I provide these comments for the Sunday Express and I hope people will carry on reading that estimable newspaper and getting my wisdom on a weekly basis.

The time allowed tomorrow is sufficient and there will, of course, be legislation brought forward, as I said. Tomorrow—I am sure the hon. Gentleman is right—many Conservative MPs will want to wax lyrical on the advantages to the United Kingdom of this proposal, which will see a £300 million Union dividend and help bail out the failings of the Scottish national health system, so badly run by the nationalist Government in Edinburgh. Extra money will be going to Scotland and Scotland will receive more money than Scottish people pay in taxation—or, to be more accurate, than Scottish residents pay in taxation—so it is of benefit to Scotland. I might remind the hon. Gentleman about gift horses not being looked in the mouth.

I have received a brace of emails asking me to be here on Thursday to vote against covid passports. Is the Leader of the House sure there is something he has not told us?

I am not entirely sure who my right hon. Friend receives his emails from. It may be from certain conspiracy theorists who think all sorts of things are going to be discussed in this House. I remind him of what I said about Thursday: there will be a motion relating to the second report of the Session 2021-22 from the Committee on Standards, followed by the remaining stages of the Rating (Coronavirus) and Directors Disqualification (Dissolved Companies) Bill, and then a very important general debate on the legacy of Jo Cox. If my right hon. Friend wishes to be here earlier in the morning, he can, of course, hear my business statement, which will update him on any further business.

Will the Ways and Means resolution be amendable? In particular, would it be possible to amend the Ways and Means resolution to ensure that the cap on care costs comes into effect at the same time as the higher taxes, instead of 18 months later?

Ways and Means resolutions are amendable. My hon. Friend will have to have a discussion with the Table Office on what type of amendments it will accept, but, yes, the broad principle is that they are amendable.