Motion on Standing Orders
That Standing Order 40(4) (so far as it relates to Thursdays) and (5) be suspended until the end of the session so far as it is necessary to enable notices and orders relating to Public Bills initiated by Her Majesty’s Government concerning the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union to have precedence over other motions and orders on Thursdays.
My Lords, this is a very interesting Motion. However, if the Leader of the House could answer a couple of points, it might be easier to understand exactly what is going to happen. I want to raise two questions. First, she is asking us to suspend the Standing Orders until the end of the Session. Could she give us a little clue as to when that might be, plus or minus a year or two? Later on, the Motion refers to,
“orders relating to public Bills”—
—that is “Bills”, plural. We know from the Statement that we heard earlier in the House of Commons, and which the Leader of the House is going to repeat, that there is one Bill, the withdrawal Bill, which is anticipated to come before the Commons. If it gets its Second Reading in the House of Commons, which is not certain—in fact, I think it is pretty unlikely—then it will come to us. That Bill might need to be dealt with, but this says “Bills” plural, so could she give us a hint about what other Bills there might be for us to consider on Thursdays ahead?
When I have the information to provide, the noble Lord will be the first to know.
I am very flattered, but I think everyone else wishes to know exactly the same. We do not know when the recesses will be, beyond Whitsun—unless the Government Chief Whip is going to get to his feet later today. We do not know whether we are coming back in September, when the end of the Session is, or how many Bills are coming forward. What a way to run a country, or a House. No one in their right mind would run a sweetshop in the way this Government are running the country and the House at the moment. With respect, rather than just the rather trite reply that the Leader of the House gave me, however flattering it might be, surely she has something more to say to the House.