There have been 5 exchanges between Margaret Beckett and Leader of the House
|Tue 22nd October 2019||Business of the House||5 interactions (197 words)|
|Mon 1st April 2019||Business of the House||3 interactions (111 words)|
|Wed 27th March 2019||Business of the House||3 interactions (50 words)|
|Thu 17th January 2019||Business of the House||3 interactions (169 words)|
|Wed 19th December 2018||Points of Order||5 interactions (120 words)|
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for a characteristically good idea as to how we might be able to proceed. The only difficulty is that the programme motion has been voted down, and to sit in the way my hon. Friend suggests would require another programme motion, and there is no indication that that would meet with greater satisfaction from the Opposition. The House of Lords also has to consider this Bill in due time, so I fear that his great solution is not going to be a way forward.
I think the original understanding of limbo—one that is no longer widely accepted—is that it was a place for the souls of the unbaptised and for those who died before salvation was brought to us at the point of the Resurrection, but I think the understanding now is that that is rather a narrow interpretation.
The issue of what motivates people to vote in this House is one that is always very difficult to settle. I have always accepted that hon. and right hon. Members in this House want what is best for the country, but think that there are different ways to do it. But we must draw conclusions from people’s actions, and I do not think it is unreasonable to conclude that people who voted against the Second Reading of this Bill and against the programme motion are not the greatest admirers of the proposals towards Brexit.
I am deliberately not going to become involved in that argument, but my hon. Friend knows that I do not believe that the withdrawal agreement delivers Brexit.
What policy decisions would be eligible to be made through this procedure in the future? Why not decide taxation policy like this, or social security? I well remember my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe, when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer, giving stinging rebukes to those who voted down his policy on increasing VAT on fuel. It is a bad thing for a Government to lose a vote on a taxation measure in a Budget, but just imagine handing over the entire Budget proposals to the House of Commons to be voted on in this way.
The vote to leave was in part to reverse the democratic deficit of the institutions of the European Union and to restore national democratic accountability. Whatever anyone’s view, that should be uncontroversial. The EU’s elected Parliament is blighted by low turnouts, and I doubt that anyone other than those who follow these issues most minutely could name with any certainty more than one or two of the candidates to be the next President of the European Commission, which is of course a legislative body. If we are to respond to the mandate expressed in the referendum, it cannot be right that we corrode our own system of parliamentary government by making it less accountable to voters in elections and rendering its process more inaccessible and confusing.
“Ignored” is the operative word that the right hon. Lady uses. Obviously, it is and should always be the practice of Governments to respect the will of the House as expressed in a motion. However, as Mr Speaker himself has confirmed, a motion is merely an expression of opinion, and it is up to the Government to decide how to respond to that opinion. This underlines how, in our system, a Government propose and Parliament disposes. Parliament does not take over the Government’s role, which is what is being proposed in this process.
I little imagined that we would find ourselves debating the sequence of our constitutional history, but because my hon. Friend is genuinely learned in the matter and this may be my only opportunity ever to have this debate with him in the House of Commons before—thank goodness—I leave it, I want to explain to him that the succeeding history of our country was virtually focused on a debate about that very matter. It was because the House of Commons refused to be dominated by Privy Counsellors that all the things that happened in the later 16th and 17th centuries happened. I am on the side of those in the House whom I actually thought that, on the whole, my hon. Friend was on the side of, who wish to assert, over and against the Executive, that, ultimately, sovereignty lies here and not in Whitehall.
We have a stellar constellation here today. The right hon. Lady is another very distinguished Member of the House who has held almost every post imaginable. She tempts me to do what I shall not do, which is to observe that the failure to reach cross-party consensus on this matter had two sides, and it would have been better if the two sides had worked together. That did not happen, and it is because it did not happen that we were at the mercy of the votes of some of my hon. Friends, and that is why we are where we are. I think the right hon. Lady will agree that what matters now is none of that history; what matters now is the fact that we are where we are, and we need to find a solution. That is what this is all about.
My right hon. Friend will be aware that the motion to agree how we proceed on the motion will itself be amendable and debatable, and what will take place will require the House’s agreement.
Order. When the right hon. Member for Derby South (Margaret Beckett) served as Leader of the House, she was such a good Leader of the House and so popular and respected on both sides that I recall from 20 years ago that when we feared from press reports that her role as Leader of the House was at risk, the right hon. Members for New Forest West (Sir Desmond Swayne), for New Forest East (Dr Lewis) and for Buckingham (John Bercow) all sprang to our feet during business questions to insist that she must remain in her place.
All I—[Interruption.] Order. [Interruption.] Order. I am not seeking to refute what the hon. Gentleman is saying—[Interruption.] Order. I am simply saying I did not witness it. The Clerk of the House and the other Clerks at the Table did not witness it—[Interruption.] Order. I am sorry, I cannot be expected immediately—[Interruption.] Order. It is no good somebody waving something at me. I cannot be expected immediately to pronounce guilt or innocence. [Interruption.] No, no I cannot be expected—[Interruption.] What I reiterate to the hon. Gentleman—[Interruption.] Order. I will deal with it in a moment. What I reiterate to the hon. Gentleman is that Members are responsible for their own conduct and should apologise if they have committed a misdemeanour—[Interruption.] It is no good a Member standing by the Chair and trying to show me something. I would say—[Interruption.] What I say to the hon. Gentleman—[Interruption.] Order. What I say to the hon. Gentleman is that the Leader of the Opposition will have heard of the allegations that have been made—[Interruption.] He will have heard the allegations—[Interruption.] Order. If the right hon. Gentleman, in the light of those, chose to come to the House and to respond, I am sure that would be appreciated by the House.
Order. No, I am sorry. Hon. and—[Interruption.] Order. Hon. and right hon. Members have raised points of order, and they have been heard and they have been answered. The notion that the right hon. Lady stands to raise a point of order and is then shouted down—[Interruption.] Don’t “no” to me. That is exactly what an attempt was being made to achieve and it is not going to work.
I thank the right hon. Lady for what she has said.