Skip to main content

Lord Speaker’s Statement

Volume 799: debated on Wednesday 25 September 2019


My Lords, welcome back. It is very good to see you all. As noble Lords will know, in the light of the judgment of the Supreme Court yesterday, Parliament is not prorogued. Accordingly, the Clerk of the Parliaments will delete the following items of business from the Minute of Proceedings of 9 September: Royal Commission, Royal Assent, Queen’s Speech and Prorogation. Instead, the Minute will record that the House adjourned at 1.40 am. I should also inform the House that signification of Royal Assent to the Parliamentary Buildings (Restoration and Renewal) Bill will take place in due course. I take this opportunity to thank the staff of the House and all those who have worked against the clock to make the resumption of business possible.

I now return to our constitutional duty of scrutinising legislation and holding the Government to account. I call on the Government Chief Whip to make a business statement.

My Lords, before I turn to the business before us today, there is one thing I think we can all agree on, and that is to echo the comments of the Lord Speaker and thank all the staff who have returned at very short notice to get this Chamber up and running. We are very grateful to them. Some noble Lords will have noticed that some of the usual facilities are not available, but alternative arrangements have been made. I urge all noble Lords to be tolerant: services may not be fully staffed and refreshment outlets may be busier than usual.

For those noble Lords who may not have had time to study a copy of today’s list, our business today is as follows: there is a Private Notice Question on the extension of Article 50; an Oral Statement on Thomas Cook; an Urgent Question on the Attorney-General’s legal advice; and three more Oral Statements, on Brexit readiness, Iran and an update from the Prime Minister. For the Prime Minister’s Statement repeat, I have agreed with the usual channels that the time for Back-Bench questions will be increased from 20 minutes to 40 minutes. We then intend to finish the day’s business with a debate on the spending round. I cannot provide any certainty on timings as we are subject to the timing of Oral Statements in the other place. We will endeavour, though, to communicate any updates via the annunciator and the usual channels. Tomorrow, there will be four statutory instruments, ranging from tachographs to a gas tariff code. I will ensure that the Printed Paper Office has the details of these SIs so that they can be made available for noble Lords. Further usual channels conversations are required before business is confirmed for next week; however, it is my intention to issue a Forthcoming Business tomorrow afternoon, or Friday morning at the latest, providing the details of our business for next week.

My Lords, on behalf of these Benches I concur with the comments of the Lord Speaker and the noble Lord the Chief Whip about the work the staff have undertaken to get this place ready for us: anybody who saw it last week may have doubted that it could be done quite as quickly and efficiently as it has. We are very grateful to them and to the other staff of the House, who have been mucked around a fair bit and had their plans disrupted. We are grateful that they are here. I also thank the noble Lord the Chief Whip for his advance notice, as far as he is able to give it at the moment. We welcome his announcement of business next week. We hope this House will be sitting until there is time for a very short Prorogation prior to the Queen’s Speech. All I would add is that while we are here, we want to do our constitutional duty, as he mentioned and as outlined in the Supreme Court judgment, and get best value for the time we are here. A number of Bills were stalled and were to be carry-over Bills had the Prorogation not been ruled unlawful. We would like work to continue on that legislation so that we get the best value for the time we are here and make best use of that time now that we are indeed sitting.

My Lords, may I ask where the Leader of the House is? Should she not be in her place, given her responsibility for these events?