Debates between Margaret Beckett and John Bercow

There have been 5 exchanges between Margaret Beckett and John Bercow

1 Wed 27th March 2019 EU: Withdrawal and Future Relationship (Votes)
Department for Exiting the European Union
3 interactions (462 words)
2 Thu 17th January 2019 Business of the House
Leader of the House
2 interactions (267 words)
3 Wed 19th December 2018 Points of Order
Leader of the House
5 interactions (407 words)
4 Tue 4th December 2018 European Union (Withdrawal) Act
Cabinet Office
2 interactions (1,747 words)
5 Wed 13th June 2018 Points of Order 5 interactions (605 words)

EU: Withdrawal and Future Relationship (Votes)

Debate between Margaret Beckett and John Bercow
Wednesday 27th March 2019

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Exiting the European Union
Mr Speaker Hansard
27 Mar 2019, 9:56 p.m.

Order. Wait a moment; patience. I do not mean any unkindness to hon. Members, but I think at this point I will hear from a former Leader of the House of enormous experience, and who had a motion before us today: Dame Margaret Beckett.

Margaret Beckett Portrait Margaret Beckett (Derby South) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
27 Mar 2019, 9:57 p.m.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I would be grateful if you could correct or confirm my recollection. I do not know what anybody else expected, but I did not necessarily expect any motion to carry a majority today, certainly not the one I proposed, which, if I recall, has had almost an identical result to the one it had the last time it was moved in this House. My understanding of the procedure instigated by the right hon. Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin) was that we would first let 1,000 flowers bloom and see where we went, that that would expose some things that had perhaps little support, and that then we would seek to proceed to see whether ranking things in an order of importance made a difference.

I have to say to the Secretary of State that I thought it was somewhat extraordinary for him to come to the Dispatch Box and say that this proves that the only thing to do is go ahead with the Prime Minister’s motion, which got fewer votes than many motions that have been before us tonight. So perhaps you would tell me, Mr Speaker, whether my recollection, which seems to differ from that of some colleagues, is reasonably accurate.

Mr Speaker Parliament Live - Hansard
27 Mar 2019, 9:59 p.m.

Yes. It is not for the Chair to adjudicate on the merits of the arguments, and I have not sought to do so. What I did seek to do, which I thought it was proper for the Speaker to do, was facilitate the House by selecting a wide range of motions expressing different points of view and allowing those different, and in some cases contrasting, propositions to be tested. I would just very gently make the observation, again with a view to the intelligibility of our proceedings to a wider audience, that these matters have been debated over a lengthy period. Indeed, since the publication of the withdrawal agreement a little over four months ago I have chaired every single debate—and every minute of every single debate and, I think, exchange—in the Chamber on the matter. It is simply a statement of fact to say that in that period of four months and a bit, the House has not reached a conclusion. So if the right hon. Lady is asking me whether I am utterly astonished that today no agreement has been reached, I confess that I am not utterly astonished that after one day’s debate no agreement has been reached, but that is the factual position.

Business of the House

Debate between Margaret Beckett and John Bercow
Thursday 17th January 2019

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Leader of the House
Margaret Beckett Portrait Margaret Beckett (Derby South) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Jan 2019, 10:58 a.m.

I should like to declare an interest. Some years ago, when we were in a minority Government, I was in our Whips Office. Since then, for some five years, I was either shadow Leader of the House or Leader of the House. I feel an old-fashioned sense of unease when I hear people exploring options that might lead to the Government reducing or losing their control of the business of the House. However, that is of course entirely unnecessary. It is within the remit of the Government, using their access to the Order Paper, to facilitate exploration of where the will of the House lies. I strongly urge the Leader of the House to consider and explore, in consultation with colleagues, ways in which the Government might do that in order to facilitate the House’s expression of its wishes—the Prime Minister says she wants it to come to a decision—rather than, as has perhaps inadvertently happened in the past, almost obstructing the expression of the will of the House.

Mr Speaker Hansard
17 Jan 2019, 10:59 a.m.

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.

Points of Order

Debate between Margaret Beckett and John Bercow
Wednesday 19th December 2018

(1 year, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Leader of the House
Mr Speaker Hansard

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.

Margaret Beckett Portrait Margaret Beckett (Derby South) (Lab) - Hansard
19 Dec 2018, 12:59 p.m.

Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. I understand the observations made by the right hon. Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry), and I hope I bow to no one in my wish to see the courtesies of this House observed, but do you believe that it is in order for what appears to be becoming almost an orchestrated riot to take place? [Interruption.]

Mr Speaker Hansard
19 Dec 2018, 12:59 p.m.

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.

Margaret Beckett Portrait Margaret Beckett - Hansard
19 Dec 2018, 1:02 p.m.

Certainly, Mr Speaker, it does seem to me—and I have been in this House for some many years—that an attempt is presently being made to shout you down. There is much serious business before this House and I would be astonished if a single one of our constituents does not view these scenes with utter contempt.

Mr Speaker Hansard
19 Dec 2018, 12:59 p.m.

I thank the right hon. Lady for what she has said.

European Union (Withdrawal) Act

Debate between Margaret Beckett and John Bercow
Tuesday 4th December 2018

(1 year, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Cabinet Office
Margaret Beckett Portrait Margaret Beckett (Derby South) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
4 Dec 2018, 5:12 p.m.

Over 20 years ago, as the new President of the Board of Trade, my first overseas visit to a major trade partner—Japan—was dominated by the most overwhelming concern. Business and politicians alike wanted reassurance that the then new Labour Government would not be leaving the European Union. They were polite, but they were blunt. They had invested in the UK because the UK was in the European Union, and if we left, so would they. Just today, their ambassador re-emphasised their nervousness.

So in 2016, I could foresee serious economic harm to Britain’s interests, but I accepted that we had to abide by the referendum result and concentrate our energies on damage limitation. Despite the mixes messages from the Government, I voted to trigger article 50 and the process of withdrawal, but frankly, since then, it has been downhill all the way. First, it became clear that those who had clamoured for us to leave the European Union had not the faintest idea what to do next. There was no concrete plan for the nation’s future—just a series of sweeping assertions about how easy, swift and painless leaving would be and the golden future that awaited us.

Then we saw that the Prime Minister’s decisions were being taken not in the best interests of the country, but to satisfy her Brexit extremists. The withdrawal Bill then proposed that the control we were taking should be returned not to Parliament but to Ministers, with little, if any, real parliamentary scrutiny. Asserting Parliament’s legitimate role has been an uphill struggle, as we saw in the most recent Division today.

Article 50 allows only a two-year window for negotiations, so I expected the Government to seek the fastest possible progress. I agreed with them that withdrawal and future partnership were best considered side by side, but when that was rejected, concluding negotiations on part one—the withdrawal agreement—became all the more urgent. Leaving is one thing; what matters more is where we are going and on what terms, and that dialogue has yet to begin in earnest.

If anyone had said that we would reach the end of our two-year window struggling to reach any deal at all, I would never have believed it. But it is hard to negotiate successfully if we cannot agree on what we want, wilfully throw away our negotiating flexibility and sack people who tell us what we do not want to hear.

Over these two years, while the Government have wrangled endlessly about how to proceed, one disastrously unforeseen consequence of leaving the EU after another has been revealed. Government Members keep insisting that everyone who voted knew exactly what they were doing and what the possible consequences would be. It may be so. All I can say is, I did not.

When I heard the Prime Minister pontificating about escaping the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, it never crossed my mind that that meant leaving Euratom—the watchdog not just for cancer treatment, but for the safety of nuclear power stations. I know from ministerial experience that we have, and have had for years, a shortage of people across the world with those skills and capacities, and we are about to leave behind some of those on whom we presently rely. However, whatever I did not know, I did know how much we rely on Dover for our import and export trade. I had not focused either on the losses to our scientific and medical research, or things such as the Galileo project.

As each of these problems emerges, I keep hearing that it is all right because the Government will continue all this investment—for example, to support our farmers—all on our own, so clearly the Prime Minister has found another of those magic money trees. Much of our consumption—for example, our food consumption—relies on the frictionless trade that we now enjoy, so, too, does modern manufacturing. Key goods and components are perpetually whizzing around the European Union and back to the UK, and thousands of jobs across Britain depend on this just-in-time delivery. That is why I was appalled to hear the Prime Minister announce, casually, that Britain would leave both the single market and the customs union—and, what is more, that these were red lines.

The economist Professor Patrick Minford declared the other day that just as the Thatcher years saw the demise of major industries such as coal and steel, so, too, leaving the EU, which he nevertheless supports, will probably—and, in my view, disastrously—see the end of what is left of UK manufacturing. I know that, nevertheless, most of the business community urges us to vote for this deal to provide the certainty that business always, understandably, seeks. I understand that totally; I have dealt with it for years. But no one should be under any illusions. Bluntly, these are not commitments to invest or stay in Brexit Britain. These are perfectly justifiable attempts to keep business going for the next two to three years to give them a breathing space, without disruption, to make their long-term decisions, which may not be in our favour.

I recognise, too, the concern that staying in a customs union may restrict our ability to negotiate other trade deals, say, with the United States. Personally, I am not starry-eyed about such deals. For a start, it is frankly inconceivable that any American President, let alone this American President, would do a trade deal with the UK without making it a key condition that giant US health corporations be allowed unfettered access to our national health service. I can well imagine that that might suit some right wingers who hanker after a privatised NHS and would let those companies use a free trade deal to accomplish exactly that, along with in other public services, while leaving the hands of Tory politicians clean. Equally, we would face demands to admit chlorine-washed chicken and hormone-fed beef, and no doubt other delights on which we have not yet focused.

Other trade deals would not be consequence-free either. India and China, to name but two, would, again understandably, want additional visas for their citizens—I have no quarrel with that—but the Prime Minister’s emphasis on the end of free movement may give some people the misleading impression that she is offering an end to immigration. She is not. According to the most recent figures, it is non-EU immigration that is increasing.

Not satisfied with the grave red lines misjudgement, tying her own hands and restricting her room for manoeuvre, the Prime Minister added to that the crass folly of selecting a date—not just a date, but a time—for our leaving and, to please and reassure her Brexiteers, she put it into the Bill. As that self-inflicted deadline approached, some began to say that it would be best to leave the EU at the end of March, giving up our prime negotiating cards and our strength, and work out afterwards what would be in our interests in future. I do not think that I have ever heard anything so criminally irresponsible from any Government or the supporters of any Government.

The Prime Minister says that people just want it to be over. Of course they do. Heaven knows, I think we all probably share that sentiment. But it is a con, perhaps the biggest con of all. If we pass the deal, it will not be over. The really serious stuff has not even started and it will go on for years.

Of course, to guide us, we have the political declaration. We have already heard from the Governments of France and Spain how binding they believe its warm words to be. The point is that it settles nothing. All is to be “explored”, “continued”, “considered” or “discussed”. Nothing is settled.

From the outset, the Prime Minister resisted the idea that this sovereign Parliament should have the chance to vote and express its opinion on any deal she might secure. She forcefully resisted the notion of a meaningful vote, and now that we have one, she is doing her utmost to make it meaningless by insisting that there is only one way for MPs to vote: for her deal.

The outcome of the series of votes is unpredictable and could well be indecisive. I have seen such a thing happen in this House before. Should there now be a further people’s vote? I hear “no” from most Conservative Members. But I am in no doubt that I know infinitely more now about the potential consequences of leaving the EU than I did in 2016, and I think, having been in the Cabinet for some 11 years, I probably knew a little bit about it before. I know, too, that what leave campaigners promised is not on offer, mostly because it was undeliverable.

The hon. Members for Totnes (Dr Wollaston) and for Bracknell (Dr Lee) have reminded us that a major medical intervention must be preceded by an assurance that informed consent has been given. Consumer protection law gives a 14-day cooling-off period for people to make sure they know what they are doing. This time, the very future of our country is at stake.

There has been a determined effort to keep people in the dark. Economic assessments of Brexit’s impact prepared for Ministers were withheld, like the Government’s legal advice. The real-life consequences of leaving with no deal, which clearly still attracts some Conservative Members, are not being fully spelt out. The Chancellor, like the Governor of the Bank of England, publicly accepts that we would be economically better off staying in the EU, but he points out—and this is fair—that many who voted leave thought that a price worth paying to recover our sovereignty. But the deal on offer, which the Prime Minister says is the only deal on offer, does not recover our sovereignty. It leaves us rule takers from the European Union without any voice in shaping those rules. It represents what may well be the biggest transfer of sovereignty ever proposed by any British Government, because this time sovereignty is not being shared—it is being surrendered.

None of us can know today just what decisions or options, if any, will emerge from next Tuesday’s votes. The Prime Minister demands—she repeated it today—of all MPs that, when we vote, we do so not in any party or personal interest, but for what we honestly believe to be the interests of our country. I shall, Mr Speaker, and it will not be for this deal.

Mr Speaker Hansard
4 Dec 2018, 9 p.m.

Order. With immediate effect, an eight-minute limit will now apply.

Points of Order

(1st reading: House of Commons)
Debate between Margaret Beckett and John Bercow
Wednesday 13th June 2018

(2 years, 3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Mr Speaker Hansard
13 Jun 2018, 1:19 p.m.

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.

Margaret Beckett Portrait Margaret Beckett (Derby South) (Lab) - Hansard
13 Jun 2018, 1:19 p.m.

rose—

Mr Speaker Hansard
13 Jun 2018, 1:11 p.m.

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.

Margaret Beckett Portrait Margaret Beckett - Hansard

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Will you confirm that under the rules of order of this House, if the parliamentary leader of the SNP had had his way, not only the baby to whom you referred but every member of the public and indeed of the press would have been cleared from this House? Can you inform me, because I am not now sure about this, whether under present circumstances it would also have led to the cessation of the broadcasting of this House, which would have brought a great loss in public scrutiny?

Mr Speaker Hansard
13 Jun 2018, 12:34 p.m.

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.