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Delegated Legislation

Volume 649: debated on Wednesday 14 November 2018

With the leave of the House, I will take motions 6 and 7 together.

Motion made, and Question put forthwith (Standing Order No. 118(6)),

Exiting the European Union (Financial Services)

That the draft Credit Transfers and Direct Debits in Euro (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018, which were laid before this House on 9 October, be approved.

Exiting the European Union (Financial Services and Markets)

That the draft Electronic Money, Payment Services and Payment Systems (Amendment and Transitional Provisions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2018, which were laid before this House on 9 October, be approved.—(Mike Freer.)

Question agreed to.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Have you or Mr Speaker received any notification from the Government that they intend to make a statement here on the outcome of the talks with the European Union? Rumours are widely circulating that the Prime Minister intends to hold a press conference at 9 o’clock this evening but not to address the House. Have you had any indication that the Government will actually address the democratic heart of the country?

I have received no indication that the Prime Minister is coming to the House later today. I understand that there is expected to be a statement from the Prime Minister tomorrow. As Mr Speaker said earlier, he would have stood ready to allow a statement if one were requested.

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Clearly, the business has finished early and there is plenty of time for the Prime Minister to come back to make a statement. Given that the press conference will be at 9 pm, the House could be suspended and then the statement could be made—this could even be up until 7 pm. Have you had any indication that the House could be suspended and we could have a statement from the Prime Minister on the matter of most importance to this country?

As I understand it, the House could be suspended if there is an indication that a statement was expected. However, as we said earlier, the Speaker made it clear that he would have allowed time for a statement but no request has been made, and, as I understand it, there will be a statement from the Prime Minister tomorrow.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. The Prime Minister is obviously pretty caught up with the Cabinet at the moment; the rumours are that she has got on to only the third of the Cabinet Ministers, so this could go on for a little time. However, we do have all the time up to 7 pm, which would give her time to come to the House and get the constitutional proprieties right on the most important thing to happen in this House for the future of this country in a long time. She would then be able to come to this House, because we would not have adjourned; we would have suspended to give her that opportunity to do the right thing by this House, which is to come to the House before she does the press conference and make a statement. So would it be in order for us to have a vote to suspend the House, thereby giving her that opportunity to do the right thing by our constitution?

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I entirely endorse the comments made by my hon. Friend, but may I also raise a concern with you? I just asked a question of the Under-Secretary of State for Wales, the hon. Member for Selby and Ainsty (Nigel Adams), and it still appears the Welsh Government and the Scottish Government have not been informed about the status of these negotiations and these papers. So it is not just this House and this Parliament that the Government are trying to circumvent, but the other democratically elected Parliaments of the United Kingdom. Do you not agree that this is an extraordinary situation, which gives us another reason why this House should be suspended? The Prime Minister should come here and explain herself.

Let me just address what I think the gist of these points of order is. First, there are no grounds for suspension unless a request has been received and a statement is being asked for later. However, the Adjournment debate can run until 7 pm and it can be up to the Government—[Interruption.] Order. I am trying to be helpful. It is possible for the Government at any time up to that point to say that they wish to make a statement. I hope that is helpful in informing the House of the current position.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am grateful for the remarks you have just made. We need to convey to the Government our extreme unhappiness about what is going on. [Interruption.] I can hear comments about there always being unhappiness, but this is most serious. We have been made aware that the Government of Gibraltar have been briefed on what is in the withdrawal agreement. We hear from the UK Government about the respect that must be shown to the devolved institutions and about how they are partners together with the UK Government, but I can tell the House that, as I speak, the Administration in Edinburgh, the Scottish Government, have not been informed about what is in the arrangement between the UK and the EU. The Cabinet is due to reach agreement this afternoon and the Prime Minister is not taking the opportunity afforded to her to update the House, and this is being disrespectful in the extreme to this place and to the people of the United Kingdom.

That was not really a point of order; it was more a point of frustration. I have given the House the maximum information about the options that are open. Those on the Treasury Bench will have heard the anxiety of the House about the current situation, and I am sure that will be conveyed. It is not my job to convey it, but obviously those on the Treasury Bench have heard it. As I said, Mr Speaker made it clear earlier that he was very happy to take a statement at any time. The Adjournment can run until 7 pm. The Government can make a statement at any point up until then.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. No Prime Minister has spent so many hours at the Dispatch Box answering questions from this House on this subject. We have a Cabinet meeting—[Interruption.]

The current Government are run by a Cabinet who actually discuss things, unlike that of previous Governments. I think we should wait; if the Government have done us the courtesy of allowing this House to know that they will come here with a statement tomorrow, we should respect that, and we will have a much better exchange in this House based on information, rather than supposition and rumour.

Further to that point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I am not sure whether you were in the Chamber earlier today when Mr Speaker made his statement very clearly indeed, and I do not know how many colleagues were, but it was made abundantly plain that if there were to be a statement today, then yes, Mr Speaker would take it, but more importantly that he had been notified that a statement would be made tomorrow and that he was prepared to sit for as long as it took to make sure that every Opposition or Government Member was heard. Surely, that is preferable to a half-baked statement in short order at 7 o’clock tonight.

I take the hon. Gentleman’s point. I was merely saying what the options were, and the option does remain for a statement to be made if the Adjournment went on until 7 o’clock.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. You helpfully clarified that the Adjournment could continue until 7 o’clock tonight, should the Government wish to come and make a statement. It may be that not everyone present has prepared a speech that is relevant to the Adjournment debate on police employer pension contributions that will take place, so would you allow some leniency, scope and flexibility in the contributions that Members might wish to make to that debate?

Members can speak, but they have to speak to the subject of the debate. Their remarks must obviously be related to police employer pension contributions.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I really appreciate the clarity you have given about the issues going up to the Adjournment debate at 7 pm and then 7.30 pm, but perhaps you could help me to understand what would happen should the House vote down the Adjournment motion? What would be the procedural consequence? Would it allow the House to continue its discussions after that point?

If the Adjournment is voted down after 7 o’clock, it will still adjourn. The House adjourns at 7.30 pm.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Given the statement that Mr Speaker rightly made that the Cabinet will meet, that the Prime Minister will then inform the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales, that that parliamentary precedent, which is generally agreed on across the House, moves forward and that a statement then comes to the House before any press conference, I wonder whether you could advise me, in your office as Deputy Speaker, whether that is fundamentally undermined by the fact that the Government of Gibraltar has been informed of the deliberations before the Cabinet has met and made a decision, contrary to the opinion given by the Speaker of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland?

What the Government choose to tell the Government of Gibraltar is not a matter for me. As I have said, the concerns of the House have been expressed through these points of order and they have been heard by those on the Treasury Bench. I say again that the Prime Minister will come to the House tomorrow to make a statement and there are still options open today.

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I think the bit that upsets quite a lot of Members is not that the Cabinet may go on for many hours—that is fully understood; it is the Cabinet’s job to govern—but that after that point it is important that the first next people to hear should surely be the Members of Parliament who will have to make a decision. It is the phase between the Cabinet and House, with the Government going to talk to the press, that is the problem for us. I fully understand that were the Cabinet to continue meeting till midnight tonight, it would probably be impossible for us to have a statement from the Prime Minister today, but as the Adjournment can go on until half-past 7 this evening, what is the last moment at which the Prime Minister could make herself available and at which we could be given notice that a statement could happen?