Points of Order DebateFull Debate: Read Full Debate
Margaret BeckettMain Page: Margaret Beckett (Labour) - Derby South)
I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for that. I simply say to him that I do not think I need to consult the Secretary of State for Scotland on this point. There is no possibility of a statement on that matter today, even if the Secretary of State were minded to volunteer it. That would interfere with our proceedings in a way that a lot of Members would regard as frankly unsatisfactory. In so far as the hon. Gentleman is seeking some guidance from the Chair, I would say that that would not be appropriate today. Tomorrow is another day. I simply point out, without wanting to venture further into this otherwise hazardous terrain, that even had an Standing Order No. 24 application been successful, the debate would not have been today—it would have been on a subsequent day. The debate would not have allowed any vote on any propositions appertaining to parts of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill; it would simply have been a debate on a “take note” motion. There could be such a debate subsequent to today; tomorrow is another day and let us wait to see what happens.
I must apologise to the right hon. Member for Derby South (Margaret Beckett), because she has an important point of order, which hails from her experience not just as the Member for Derby South, but as a former Leader of the House.
In the first instance, people would have had to exit the Gallery—I am pretty certain of that and the right hon. Lady is quite right. The specific proposition was that the House do sit in private. I do not know whether amid the hubbub people heard that that was the thrust of what the leader of the SNP here was requesting, but it is the gravamen of what he was requesting and it would have required members of the public to exit the Gallery at once. If the motion had been carried, the broadcasting of our proceedings would have had to be halted with immediate effect. It is important that people understand the implications of some of these devices that people use.
I also add, without prejudice to any particular application but on the basis that I think the House will believe me and that the record shows this to be true, that I am very open to urgent questions being heard in this place and to Standing Order No. 24 debates taking place, whether the Government of the day particularly like it or not. I might make the judgment, as Speaker, that it is in the interests of the House for such a debate to take place, but of course if people absent themselves when they have the opportunity to make these applications, they cannot then complain. I really do think it would be a good thing if we perhaps brought to a close the operation of stunts and focused instead on the proper discharge of our responsibilities in this place. I thank the right hon. Lady for her point of order.