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Business Statement

Volume 719: debated on Monday 5 September 2022

With permission, Mr Speaker, it may help if I inform the House that, following the election of the new leader of the Conservative party, the business managers have agreed that the Government will not move the Second Reading and other motions relating to the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill today to allow Ministers to consider the legislation further. The remainder of this week’s business is as I announced on 21 July.

I thank the Leader of the House for his statement. The phrase “the remainder of this week’s business is as I announced on 21 July” will be interesting to follow, and I will watch closely. I hope that he had a good break, but the Government do not seem to have got their house or their business in order. This is the first day back, and the Government are already pulling their own business. Even though the data Bill fell well short on ambition, it was supposed to unlock growth and business opportunities. What do the Government have against those things? As if we needed more evidence of a zombie Government and a party divided, they will not even carry on with a pretty uncontentious Bill.

Why has this important Bill been pulled? Does the Culture Secretary not support her own Bill any more? When will it be rescheduled? Are the Government planning to drop it completely? Are the Government planning to drop any other legislation? Vital Parliamentary time is being scrapped this evening, and we could have used it to legislate for Labour’s plan to freeze the energy price cap, which would stop families paying a penny more on energy this winter. Our soon to be Prime Minister said she wants to take “immediate action” on the soaring energy crisis, but where is the plan? We could have been doing that this evening. Will the Leader of the House give us any idea at all of when this Government or the next Government, or any Government, are going to get a move on and bring forward legislation to tackle this Tory cost-of-living emergency?

Mr Speaker, I am very much aware of your desire to move quickly and for us to keep comments to a minimum. The hon. Lady is aware that there will be ample opportunity to debate such things. We have three statements this afternoon on very important matters that happened over the summer, including in the health service. The Government announced a huge £37 billion investment earlier this year to support people with the cost of living. Once the new Prime Minister is established, I am sure that she will come forward rapidly with her plan, and the shadow Leader of the House will see a united Conservative party that is firmly behind the Prime Minister delivering for the people of this country.

There are two things that we could have been discussing this evening that might have been helpful for the whole House. First, the interviews for the new Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards were held months ago, and everything has been agreed by all the various bodies, so I do not understand why we could not have discussed that appointment today. Secondly, why can we not implement the new code of conduct, which the Committee on Standards recommended in the summer?

Those are two important matters that I expect to come rapidly to the Dispatch Box in the very near future.

My question relates to today’s business. You will remember, Mr Speaker, that at the end of the summer term you granted an urgent question on the issue of infected blood compensation payments. The Government then announced, in August, that £100,000 would be awarded to some of those infected, but not to all. Today a written ministerial statement has been tabled, which offers no opportunity for us to question the Government about the groups who are not included in the scheme, which was announced in August, not to the House, but in my view could have been made in July. I wonder when the Leader of the House might arrange for a statement to be made to the House so that we can question the Government on the infected blood scandal.

As the right hon. Lady will know, business questions will take place on Thursday, and there will be an opportunity then to discuss the future business as presented.

It is nice to see you in your place, Mr Speaker, and it is nice to be back.

I understand the reasons for the postponement of tonight’s business, but my constituents tell me that they consider the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill to be a welcome development, given the current conflicting theories about how the existing terms should be interpreted and the associated difficulties. They are worried about that. May I ask the Leader of the House when we will have the Bill before us?

I know how important this issue is to the hon. Gentleman and his constituents. I am sure that there will be ample opportunity, at some point in the future, to debate the Bill. Business will be announced, in the usual way, on Thursday morning.