Business of the House

Peter Bone Excerpts
Thursday 13th January 2022

(1 week, 4 days ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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As regards the Standards report into my hon. Friend the Member for Shrewsbury and Atcham (Daniel Kawczynski), I had a discussion this morning with the Chairman of the Standards Committee, and the Government, as is normal, look forward to bringing forward the motion as soon as possible. The business statement for next week was prepared before we had received a copy of the inquiry, but that will be brought forward swiftly.

The hon. Lady went on to the Opposition day that was held earlier this week. The problem with that Opposition day was not the main subject that it tried to get to, but the process it was using, where the Opposition decided that they would take over the Government and suspend Standing Order No. 14. There is one very important thing that you have to do to control the Order Paper in this House, and that is to win a general election. The Labour party, in December 2019, failed to win a general election. It was won by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister with a majority of 80, and that is why, under Standing Order No. 14, the control of time in this House belongs to the Government. I would suggest to the hon. Lady that if she wishes to take control of the Order Paper, she wins an election—something that the socialists have found extraordinarily difficult in recent years and I expect they will continue to do so.

Then we come on to the issue of PPE, which has been raised before, and it is worth giving exactly the same answer: we needed PPE urgently. The normal procedure for procurement takes three to six months. We needed it immediately—there was not the ability to hang around. Interestingly, the judgment that came forth yesterday said that the contracts would have been awarded in the same way anyway and they were awarded not by Ministers, but by civil servants. Exactly what happened with the vaccine success was what was done with PPE. It was essential to ensure that the national health service had what it needed.

The hon. Lady challenged me about my hon. Friend the Member for Moray (Douglas Ross). My hon. Friend has an office within the Conservative party and it seems to me that people who hold office ought to support the leader of the party. That is the honourable and proper thing to do. But the United Kingdom is something that we can celebrate and debate in this Chamber daily. It is the foundation—the cornerstone—of the success of the nation as a whole. We are very fortunate to have the United Kingdom that we have and we are particularly fortunate to have the Scotland Secretary that we have, who is such a formidable figure in Scottish politics and offers the strongest, firmest and clearest leadership.

Let us come to the most important issue that the hon. Lady raised, which relates to events in Downing Street on 20 May 2020. First, I remind her that the Prime Minister came here yesterday and apologised. He said that with hindsight it was not what should have happened or what he would have wanted to happen. It is being investigated by Sue Gray, a civil servant of the highest integrity and of the greatest reputation. I think that everybody understands, on all sides of the House, that people were obeying the rules and that these rules were very hard for people to obey. I received a message last night from a friend of mine who was unable to go to the funeral of his two-year-old granddaughter. One cannot hear these stories without grieving for people who suffered. Decisions were taken at the beginning of the pandemic that affected people up and down the country and they were very hard. We must consider, as this goes to an inquiry and we look into what happened with covid, whether all those regulations were proportionate, or whether it was too hard on people. As we hear of these stories, we inevitably grieve for those who suffered, those who could not visit people they loved—their family—and could not attend funerals. But I think the key is that this is being looked into, Sue Gray will report, the Prime Minister has made his apology clear and, as he said yesterday, he understands—as do I—the “rage”, his own word, felt by people who they were making these terrible sacrifices. There is no doubt about that and the Prime Minister’s position was absolutely clear.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con)
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I was going to ask the Leader of the House about my private Member’s Bill tomorrow on abolishing the licence fee and the support I seemed to get from the Prime Minister for it. Unfortunately, however, this morning, my office was yet again vandalised. It is not fair on my staff in Wellingborough and it is not fair for other Members who have suffered similarly. So my question to him now is: may we have a debate next week on the security of Members in this House and the importance of that to our democratic process?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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I am grateful to my hon. Friend and I am very concerned, as I know you will be, Mr Speaker, about the issue that he raised on the security of his office and the risk taken by his staff. I can reassure him that the review of MPs’ security with the Home Office and the Metropolitan police is going ahead well, that an updated letter went to you, Mr Speaker, and the Home Secretary at the end of December, and that you have both approved work to continue. It is so important for the sake of democracy that Members are safe in their offices and I am sure that the police will take this attack extremely seriously. It is difficult for me to promise a debate because we do not debate security matters publicly, for very obvious reasons in relation to security itself.

Business of the House

Peter Bone Excerpts
Thursday 6th January 2022

(2 weeks, 4 days ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait The Leader of the House of Commons (Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg)
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The business for the week commencing 10 January will include:

Monday 10 January—Remaining stages of the Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill, followed by a debate on motions to approve the charter for budget responsibility: Autumn 2021 update and the welfare cap as specified in the autumn Budget.

Tuesday 11 January—Opposition day (10th allotted day). There will be a debate on a motion in the name of the official Opposition. Subject to be announced.

Wednesday 12 January—Remaining stages of the Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Bill, followed by motions to approve a money resolution and a ways and means resolution relating to the Glue Traps (Offences) Bill.

Thursday 13 January—General debate on the effectiveness of the Government’s education catch-up and mental health recovery programmes, followed by a general debate on the report of the Joint Committee on the Draft Online Safety Bill. The subjects for these debates were determined by the Backbench Business Committee.

Friday 14 January—Private Members’ Bills.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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The provisional business for the week commencing 17 January will include:

Monday 17—Remaining stages of the Elections Bill.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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One of the great glories of this nation is the jury system. It is worth bearing in mind that Magna Carta was viewed as a reconfirmation of rights, not a creation of rights. Juries must be free to come to the decisions they choose to come to on the facts that are in front of them in relation to a specific case, and on what they hear from the prosecuting counsel, the defence counsel and the judge. We should always glory in the jury system as one of the foundation stones of our liberties in this country, whether we like individual judgments or not.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con)
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Energy costs are not a luxury; they are a necessity. They cannot be avoided: we need to heat our homes. My right hon. Friend will have heard that the official Opposition are now adopting Conservative views. They believe in lower taxation and in leaving the European Union. Would it be possible for this Government to believe in Conservative views? Will the Leader of the House lay a statutory instrument next week removing VAT on energy?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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My hon. Friend knows perfectly well that that is a matter for the Chancellor and not a matter for the Leader of the House. What I would say is that Conservatives have always believed in fiscal good sense. We have always recognised that taxpayers’ money must be spent wisely. There is not an unlimited pot of other money and if we wish to provide the public services the country expects then that has to be paid for somehow. There is no magic money tree. It is very easy in opposition to point at any individual tax and say that that one should be cut, because there is no overall responsibility for ensuring that things are broadly in balance or heading towards balance. The responsibility of the Government and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer is to put all taxes and all expenditure together in a way that ensures that the country is able to live within its means. That responsibility sometimes means that individual taxes have to exist even though the Opposition may call against them, because they think there is short-term political advantage in doing so.

Business of the House

Peter Bone Excerpts
Thursday 9th December 2021

(1 month, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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I am grateful for the early notice on Holocaust Memorial Day, which is a very important date. As the hon. Gentleman rightly says, an acre is a chain by a furlong—22 yards by 220 yards. Where do we find a chain on a cricket field? Between the two wickets, although I am not sure they have been finding that as successfully as we might have liked in Brisbane. I very much note his point on energy costs for highly energy-intensive businesses and for the company in his constituency that produces cast roll products and employs 200 people. It is obviously really important that industry is able to cope with these energy costs, and we have a very good energy strategy. Current spikes in cost are difficult for business, and I will pass on his comments to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con)
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I hope everyone would agree with the Leader of the House that it is absolutely right that this House works by being here and hearing the information, not by having television screens reporting all the information. Why, then, do the Government insist on having TV press conferences to announce new policies? It is, as the Leader of the House says, this House that debates the things. I really hope—this is a genuine request—for a statement next week on ministerial statements. When he announces the day for that, can he tell me that the hour before that a press conference will be given to explain what will be in that statement?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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I seem to remember that Jim Hacker was initially the Minister for Administrative Affairs, and having a statement on a statement does sound like it was invented by Sir Humphrey Appleby for the amusement and entertainment of the nation, rather than for the elucidation of facts and information.

It is important that the country at large understands the changes that are being made. It was thanks to your good offices, Mr Speaker, and the co-operation of the Opposition that a statement was made interrupting the Opposition day. A motion was moved without notice, which is a highly unusual procedure, to ensure that protected time for the Opposition day was not eaten into. That ensured that the courtesies to the House and the constitutional proprieties to the House were observed, but there was also the opportunity to inform the nation at large. It is inevitably a balance, but yesterday—thanks particularly to you, Mr Speaker—we got it right.

Parliamentary Partnership Assembly

Peter Bone Excerpts
Monday 6th December 2021

(1 month, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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I hope Hansard noted the “Hear, hear”, which I think came from my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone). [Interruption.] Oh, no, it was my right hon. Friend.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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Indeed. I also thank the head of the Interparliamentary Relations Office, Lynn Gardner, for her assistance. Following these initial exchanges, the European Parliament confirmed its intention, on 5 October, to appoint a delegation of 35 Members to the PPA, announcing the names on 18 October. This matches the envisaged size of the UK delegation, as set out in today’s motion.

As the motion sets out, it is intended that the procedures currently applying to the nomination, support and funding of delegations to other treaty-based parliamentary assemblies—the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe Parliamentary Assembly—will apply. If both Houses agree to the participation of the UK delegation, the next step will be for the members of the UK delegation to be confirmed formally through a written ministerial statement in the same way as for the UK delegations to those assemblies. The Government expect to make this written ministerial statement shortly.

Following discussions between both Houses and others, this delegation will consist of 21 Members of this House and 14 noble Lords, and it will respect the party balances, with Members from the party of Government having the majority on the delegation, including six noble Lords.

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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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My hon. Friend has played a good and sensible role in the history of this nation since he has been a Member of Parliament, and his distinction is, I think, unparalleled in the European debate, so I note what he says. He has of course written to me about this matter and people are aware of the representation that he has made.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Bone
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The Leader of the House is being charming, in his normal way, but the hon. Members for Belfast South (Claire Hanna) and for Strangford (Jim Shannon) have a fair point, and the Democratic Unionist party is a substantial party in this Parliament, so why does it not automatically have a right to a place on this so-called delegation—if, I might say, it goes ahead?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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My hon. Friend is always punctilious in not anticipating a decision of this House—or, indeed, of the other place—and he is quite right to do so. As I said, there will be 35 members—21 from this House and 14 noble Lords. The composition has not yet been announced, but of course if right hon. and hon. Members and noble Lords wish to be on the delegation, there is still time for them to apply. However, I stress the fundamental constitutional point that this is the Parliament of the United Kingdom and a delegation from it represents the whole of the United Kingdom.

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Thangam Debbonaire Portrait Thangam Debbonaire (Bristol West) (Lab)
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Well, here we are. I am glad that the Government have stopped dragging their heels and finally brought forward the motion to ratify the Parliamentary Partnership Assembly—which I will refer to as the PPA because it is too much of a tongue-twister for this time of night. However, there is still an unfortunate lack of detail. Their noble lordships referred to that before the motion was put down, and I do not feel that things are much clearer. The right hon. Gentleman gave us some information, so he will be pleased to hear that I have already ticked off a couple of my questions, but several remain. I wonder whether he can furnish me with more information.

The right hon. Gentleman mentioned that the assembly will meet twice yearly. Will it always meet exactly twice yearly, or is that a minimum or a maximum of twice yearly? How will the assembly be expected to report to the House, and how often? Will it be after every meeting or once a year? How will the Partnership Council and the PPA connect? He said that the PPA will be able to make recommendations to the Partnership Council. What power will the council have to pursue them? What power will this place have to scrutinise the Partnership Council’s adoption, consideration or otherwise of any recommendations?

How will the chair of the PPA be appointed? Will there be a co-chair system as there is with the Partnership Council? Will the chair be apportioned under party lines as happens with Select Committees? In particular, may I press him on—I already mentioned this—how the PPA will report to this House? I know that the right hon. Gentleman agrees that it is important that Committees report to the House and that we have a proper system of scrutiny, so I would like more detail on how he expects that to happen.

I will pick up the points made by hon. Members about representation for Members of the devolved legislatures. The European Parliament will shape some of the laws that will apply to the people of Northern Ireland under the protocol. Whether the right hon. Gentleman and others think that is a good or bad thing, it is nevertheless a thing, so there must be some structure to enable parliamentarians in Westminster and Stormont to engage with MEPs throughout the legislative process. If there will not be any representation from the devolved legislatures —I understand that all three have written to ask for that representation—what else will be done to ensure a range of voices, views and experiences?

The right hon. Gentleman says that any of us in this place can represent the whole United Kingdom, but he must know that I could not represent Somerset as well as he—nor he Bristol. Therefore, there must be some respect for the differences of experience and knowledge brought by perspectives from around the House as well as the different party representations and backgrounds. Their lordships—as did, I think, the Institute for Government—cautioned against a narrowing of those voices when it comes to consideration of how the protocol will affect the people of Northern Ireland. That is incredibly important.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Bone
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The hon. Lady seems very keen on the PPA. Can she tell the House why?

Thangam Debbonaire Portrait Thangam Debbonaire
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I am glad that the hon. Member asked me that. I am keen on it because the European Union is still our nearest neighbour and, whatever the circumstances of our parting of ways—he knows that I voted against that while he campaigned for it, but we have moved on—Brexit has happened and we must now work out how we will relate to our near-neighbours. We will have to negotiate with them over matters as diverse as climate change, the prevention of terrorism, scientific knowledge and how on earth we handle the next pandemic —if there is one. For all those things, we will need good relationships and some form of parliamentary dialogue. The Institute for Government and their lordships have said that that is critical. As it is also part of the trade and co-operation agreement, it would be a shame if we said that we will not have a formal method of dialogue.

We can have informal methods of dialogue, but, for our alliances in this modern world, with our global outlook and our new outward-facing image, which I know the hon. Member wants us to have, it is better to have some formal method of dialogue with our nearest neighbours. For example, climate change, in particular, knows no borders. On the issue of criminals who want to escape either from the United Kingdom or from the European Union, we are the nearest to each other and we need to co-operate. I hope that is helpful for him; that is why I am keen on it.

In conclusion, the PPA is a key part of maintaining the communication between Westminster and Brussels. Regardless of how we got here—and, goodness me, have we not all spent a long time getting here over the past six years?—we are here. It is now of great importance that we get this relationship right. We have to keep our international relationships as a strong part of what we offer in this new global Britain so that our global standing is not diminished. Brexit has happened, whatever our views, and in order for this country to go from strength to strength, we have to make it work. That has to include having a good relationship with the European Union. I hope that the Leader of the House can answer at least some of my questions and, if he cannot do so now, that he will commit to our having further dialogue on this subject as soon as possible.

Oliver Heald Portrait Sir Oliver Heald (North East Hertfordshire) (Con)
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I will just take my mask off, Madam Deputy Speaker. May I say how I delighted I am that we have reached this point and that it is possible to have this motion before the House tonight? As my hon. Friend the Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone) said, the treaty—the trade and co-operation agreement—is permissive. We do not have to set up a parliamentary assembly, but I very much hope that we will.

As for my interest in this, I was asked by the powers that be, including the Leader of the House, to lead on discussions with the House of Lords and our counterparts in the European Parliament on taking the proposals forward. I place on the record my thanks to the noble Lord Kinnoull, who has been leading for the Lords on this matter, for all his help in the discussions. I am glad that we managed to reach agreement so easily across the two Houses about the overall composition of the delegation in terms of the party balance and numbers, including between the Houses, so that this is a parliamentary delegation—albeit with a Commons majority, as this place would expect.

I started work on this project some time ago with an expectation that we might even be able to hold an inaugural meeting of the assembly before the summer recess. Unfortunately, however, sitting patterns in the European Parliament and our own, and internal processes that have to be gone through with so many groups in the European Parliament and parties here, meant that it was only in October that the European Parliament decided that it would establish a delegation and published the names. This is still awaiting ratification, so passing this motion tonight, followed by the motion in the Lords, will allow us to move forward so that we are ready once the European Parliament has completed its processes, which I believe is likely to happen on 12 December.

In some ways, it is disappointing that this has taken us such a long time, but that has enabled me and Lord Kinnoull to have useful discussions with Select Committee Chairs, in particular—I have appeared at the European Scrutiny Committee and the Liaison Committee to discuss how we might take this forward. The good work done by those Committees can feed into the work of the UK delegation and the UK delegation can feed back to the House and Committees on proceedings in the PPA. I look forward to seeing that develop further.

As my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) is in his place, I make it clear that neither the PPA nor the delegation to it will duplicate the work of any existing Committee of the House or existing delegations—for example, that to the Council of Europe. That is very much the view of the European Parliament’s Committees, too.

The role of the assembly is to exchange views on the partnership between the EU and the UK. It has powers to request information and to make recommendations to the partnership council, but it will meet probably twice a year, which is what happens with other similar bodies that the European Parliament has with other countries. It cannot be expected to do anything like the detailed scrutiny done by our specialised Committees here in Parliament.

I hope that Select Committee members will use the assembly as a platform to share their expertise more widely. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Stone that the European Scrutiny Committee has a lot of expertise to offer, although of course the exact composition of the delegation will be a matter for the usual channels.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Bone
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I am sorry to spring out of my seat once more, Madam Deputy Speaker, but I thought that this assembly was a parliamentary delegation, not one whose membership the Government Whips would decide. Surely that is not the way forward.

Oliver Heald Portrait Sir Oliver Heald
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As my hon. Friend may know, there are a number of assemblies—the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly, the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, the OSCE and so on—that follow a similar pattern whereby a written ministerial statement appoints the membership. However, I believe that the usual channels are very keen that the assembly should have geographical range and should take account of balance, equalities and so on. Personally, I think that if we wanted to go for something different, we would have to change the whole system that we operate in this Parliament for assemblies.

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Peter Bone Portrait Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con)
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It is a great pleasure to follow the right hon. Member for Dwyfor Meirionnydd (Liz Saville Roberts), who made her point very clearly to the Leader of the House.

When I came into this debate, I was not sure of my view on the whole issue of the PPA. Having listened to the debate, I am absolutely certain that I am against it, and I have a number of reservations that I would like to draw to the attention of the House before it divides.

When a new thing starts, it is a good idea to see who is in favour of it. We know Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition are very much in favour of it—the hon. Member for Bristol West (Thangam Debbonaire) spoke with passion about it, and she also spoke with passion about the fact that she was against leaving the EU. The hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Dr Whitford) spoke with eloquence, as usual, and made it clear that in fact the SNP would be campaigning to go back into the European Union.

I thought, “Well, they’re in favour, and that’s not a good thing for a Conservative, so perhaps I’d better look in the European Parliament and see how they voted on this matter.” I think the vote was on around 5 October: 686 MEPs voted for it, with two against and four abstentions. I hope if I had been in the European Parliament, I would have been one of those who voted against.

I am very much in favour of scrutiny, but I am in favour of this House’s scrutiny of the Government, not of sharing that scrutiny with another body. One reason why people voted to leave the European Union was to rid ourselves of the involvement of the European Parliament. The Leader of the House may say to me that I do not have to fear that because there are only 35 of them and there are 35 of us, but we now know that the membership of the assembly will be decided broadly on a party political basis in proportion to the numbers in this House. That would automatically give the European Union a majority in the assembly, because Labour Members and SNP Members would undoubtedly take the side of the European Union.

Alyn Smith Portrait Alyn Smith
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That is outrageous.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Bone
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Well, it is outrageous that the SNP supports the European Union. That is the first time I have ever heard that. [Interruption.] Does the hon. Gentleman want to intervene? He seems excited on this point.

Alyn Smith Portrait Alyn Smith
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I am really quite offended on this point, actually, although I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for the opportunity to joust on it. The idea that I would vote for anything other than the interests of the people of Scotland and the interests of the United Kingdom in the interests of the European Union is entirely wrong. I hope that my speech was a suitably balanced contribution that said that we will try to find solutions for the whole of the UK. We have our constitutional position and constitutional priorities. I was elected in Stirling with 51% of the vote, having stood on a pro-EU, anti-Brexit, pro-independence platform—and I won the seat from the Conservatives, I have to say. The United Kingdom is not one place; it is a series of lots of places. Those voices need to be properly reflected and allegations of bad faith are really not conducive to this debate.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Bone
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Goodness me! There was no bad faith: I was just trying to support the SNP in its campaign to support the European Union and get back into it. That is why I say there would be a majority for the European Union in the assembly. If it is just a talking shop, I suppose it does not really matter, but then if it is, why are we setting it up?

Robert Goodwill Portrait Mr Goodwill
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I think my hon. Friend is misunderstanding how UK parties worked together, even in the European Parliament—for example, if there was a national interest, they would vote together. I see the assembly working, when we have a joint problem, on how we are going to fix it together. A number of problems will need to be fixed both now and in the future and it will help to have lines of communication. It will not be like some debating chamber, like Prime Minister’s questions; it will be a serious tool that we can use to fix things.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Bone
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My right hon. Friend makes a vital point, but I would take things down a slightly different path. I would re-establish the Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union, which was a Committee of this House and could scrutinise our relationship with the European Union. It would have no MEPs on it and would be a Committee of this House. I think Lord Frost is doing a tremendous job, but it is right that a Committee in this House should scrutinise that job, not a committee made up with Members of the European Parliament.

Oliver Heald Portrait Sir Oliver Heald
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Of course, the European Parliament has set up a number of bilateral organisations with other countries. Some of them have arrangements whereby both delegations have to agree before a resolution can be passed. There is a vote of the whole body, but equally the support of both delegations is required; would my hon. Friend perhaps find that a helpful mitigation?

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Bone
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That would be a most helpful mitigation but, of course, if we do not have the assembly in the first place, we do not have to worry about that sort of thing.

Let me move away slightly from the principle and go back to the motion—

William Cash Portrait Sir William Cash
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Just before my hon. Friend moves away from the principle, will he give way?

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Bone
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Of course.

William Cash Portrait Sir William Cash
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I noticed that my right hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Mr Goodwill) mentioned fixing things just now. I have to say that fixing something gets very close to the idea of making a decision and, as I said in my few remarks, the assembly is not a decision-making body. Any attempt to usurp the processes that have been identified by agreement and to turn it into a decision-making body would be extremely unwise, because what we can agree to do by agreement we can agree to undo.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Bone
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I thank my hon. Friend for that intervention. That was one of the things that concerned me. I picked up from the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Member for Scarborough and Whitby (Mr Goodwill) that his view was that this assembly should push the boundaries, but I thought that that was what we had stopped when we left the European Union. We do not want that sort of dialogue. Scrutiny in this House is absolutely right, and I would absolutely welcome a Select Committee, but I do not want a committee of Members of the European Parliament interfering in the sovereign business of the United Kingdom. It is not as if we have to create this assembly. Under article 11, it is the possibility of doing it. We should all reject this in the Division Lobby. I am absolutely certain that the British people do not want to see this. Either this is something that is dangerous or something that is a total waste of money.

The final thing that made me decide that this was a bad motion was the statement that the make-up of this parliamentary body will be decided by the usual channels—the usual channels are the Whips. Goodness me, I am a moderniser. Why cannot we have democracy? Why cannot these delegations be elected like we elect Members to Select Committees? If the House decides that it does want this assembly, we should not allow the Whips to appoint who is on it. There was talk of course, quite rightly, of how the chairman of our delegation or our assembly members is to be established. I have my fears that, if the usual channels get involved, the vote will be fixed. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for North East Hertfordshire (Sir Oliver Heald) mentioned the Council of Europe. I remember a former Speaker having a battle with the Government over this, trying to establish that it was this House that appointed the members, and that they should not be removed because the Government wanted that to happen over some argument relating to Brexit.

There are a whole number of reasons why we should reject the principle of this and also the way that it has been set up, so I hope that the House will not approve it tonight.

Business of the House

Peter Bone Excerpts
Thursday 2nd December 2021

(1 month, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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I congratulate the hon. Lady on her support for Coventry’s NHS workers and for the charitable work that is going on there. I thought that she was going to ask me to wear a T-shirt, to which I am afraid the answer would have been no, but that does not mean that I am not very sympathetic to the cause.

May I just point out what the NHS recovery plan is? In 2018, delivering on the £350 million on the side of the bus, we gave NHS England an historic settlement that will see its budget rise by £34 billion by 2023-24. To help frontline services to tackle the coronavirus, we have made available approximately £97 billion of taxpayers’ money—ninety-seven thousand million pounds. That was sixty-three thousand million in 2020-21 and a further thirty-four thousand million in 2021-22. In September, we announced an additional £36 billion for health and social care over the next three years.

Applications to study nursing and midwifery have risen by 21% this year. If people are applying to join the NHS, that is surely a good sign about the terms and conditions available.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con)
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It has occurred to me that I have failed miserably to get the Leader of the House to grant debates in Government time, so I have thought of a wheeze.

Will the Leader of the House kindly come to my constituency of Wellingborough and Rushden in the east midlands? He can whizz up from St Pancras on the newly electrified line. As he gets out at the station, he will see the beginning of the electrification north to Sheffield. We can pick him up and take him over the new railway bridge; through the new development of Stanton Cross, to see the new houses; on to the wonderful double roundabout at Chowns Mill, which will be opened officially this week; along the A45; past the new magnificent Rushden Lakes leisure facility; further along, seeing on our left-hand side the Wellingborough prison that will be open in the new year—

Eleanor Laing Portrait Madam Deputy Speaker (Dame Eleanor Laing)
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Order. Is this going to go on for a very long time?

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Bone
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I must get him there, Madam Deputy Speaker. We can go up through Wellingborough; go up where the new Isham bypass will be built; see where the new Boris hospital is to be built; and then meet Jason Smithers, the new leader of the new unitary council. Then might I persuade the Leader of the House to have, in Government time, a debate on what levelling up means?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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It would be a joy to go back to Wellingborough. I have been to my hon. Friend’s constituency before; if I come, I hope he will invite me to speak to his local Conservative association and thank it for all the good work that it does.

My hon. Friend is heroic, because he has saved hours of Government time and Backbench Business time. He has managed to advocate the advantages of levelling up in one question, albeit a slightly long one.

Business of the House

Peter Bone Excerpts
Thursday 18th November 2021

(2 months, 1 week ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait The Leader of the House of Commons (Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg)
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The business for the week commencing 22 November will include:

Monday 22 November—Remaining stages of the Health and Care Bill (Day 1).

Tuesday 23 November—Remaining stages of the Health and Care Bill (Day 2).



Wednesday 24 November—Second Reading of the Commercial Rent (Coronavirus) Bill, followed by a motion to approve a statutory instrument relating to terrorism.

Thursday 25 November—General debate on freedom of religion or belief: 40th anniversary of the declaration on the elimination of religious intolerance, followed by a debate on a motion on alcohol harm. The subjects for these debates were determined by the Backbench Business Committee.

Friday 26 November—Private Members’ Bills.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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The provisional business for the week commencing 29 November will include:

Monday 29 November—Second Reading of the Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Bill [HL], followed by a motion to approve a Ways and Means resolution relating to the Animals (Penalty Notices) Bill, followed by a motion to approve a money resolution relating to the Approved Premises (Substance Testing) Bill.



Tuesday 30 November—Opposition day (9th allotted day). There will be a debate on a motion in the name of the Scottish National party, subject to be announced.

Wednesday 1 December—Consideration in Committee of the Finance (No.2) Bill.

Thursday 2 December—Business to be determined by the Backbench Business Committee.

Friday 3rd December—Private Members’ Bills.

--- Later in debate ---
Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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The hon. Lady raises an important point that I think all of us are coming across as constituency MPs—access to GPs, face to face, on the telephone, or on Zoom or similar services. This has been difficult for GPs, who have a huge burden to carry at the moment with the extra demand that has come up post covid. The Government have provided £250 million of taxpayers’ money in the winter access fund to improve the capacity of GP practices, but the hon. Lady’s specific point on telephony is important and I will pass it on to the Secretary of State.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con)
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Each week thousands of economic migrants come to this country illegally by crossing the channel from France. Now we know that migrants landing on the Kent coast will be taken to Wellingborough, put in a four-star hotel and given free board, free food and free medical care. There might be many reasons why people want to flee France, but adding the pull factor of coming to Wellingborough—one of the finest and friendliest towns in the country—is absurd. Will the Leader of the House arrange for a debate in Government time where the Government can lay out their position that in future economic migrants will be arriving not in the town of Wellingborough but in a town in Albania?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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I think the reason everyone wants to go to Wellingborough is that they will be so well represented by the Member of Parliament for that distinguished constituency, who will take up their cases for them regardless of their immigration status. However, I can give my hon. Friend some comfort because the Nationality and Borders Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament, will give us much greater power to ensure that illegal asylum claims are dealt with efficiently and effectively, but also that people who have valid asylum claims that they declare legally early on will be treated in the properly sympathetic way that this country has a proud record of doing.

Business of the House

Peter Bone Excerpts
Thursday 4th November 2021

(2 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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I will just add in response to the hon. Member for Bristol West (Thangam Debbonaire) that I have had a note to tell me that the party chairman responded on behalf of the Prime Minister to the letter on Islamophobia. That was done earlier this year.

Nobody would wish to defend paid advocacy. I would say to the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) that his pre-prepared fury every week is becoming very much a broken record. It does not matter what the subject is; the fury is enormous. It may be that it is raining outside and the hon. Gentleman is furious. It may be that there has been a debate on standards and the hon. Gentleman is furious. Anything that comes up, he comes here to be cross, and he gets crosser and crosser as the weeks and the days go on.

If the hon. Gentleman had listened to what I said, rather than concentrating on his pre-prepared fury, he would have noted that I said that we need to make sure that this happens on a cross-party basis. It would be idle to pretend that there are not concerns about the system. It would be idle to pretend that there are not many people in this House who feel that not having a proper appeals process is a flaw in the system. It would be idle to suggest that there are not people in this House who recognise that the system set up for the ICGS, with the IEP, has, with a High Court judge, a better legal focus than the other system. These things are all true and they all need to be looked at, but of course, to maintain high standards and proper processes, we want to have cross-party support.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con)
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I think one of the problems with yesterday was the fact that two issues were being put together; one was the case of my right hon. Friend the Member for North Shropshire (Mr Paterson) and the other was the reform of the system. On what the Leader of the House has said now, I understand the process of going forward on a cross-party basis, but I am not sure how that leaves the case of my right hon. Friend the Member for North Shropshire. Perhaps we could have a statement next week clarifying the Government’s position.

I voted for the Leadsom amendment, as it is called. I listened to the debate and I made up my mind. Will the Leader of the House issue a statement reminding people in the media that all votes in this House are free? I, for one, am never going to be told by someone else not to vote my conscience.

But Sir, the issue that concerns me most—I am sorry to take so long—is that this morning, my office was vandalised because of the way I voted last night. That puts my staff in danger. This is not the way that this should happen. We can have strong disagreement, but I think some of us should remember what happened to Sir David Amess, and perhaps our language needs to be a little temperate. I ask the Leader of the House if we can have a statement next week setting out the Government’s position on what he has said today.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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May I just reiterate what I said at the beginning of these proceedings? While there is a very strong feeling on both sides of the House that there is a need for an appeals process, there is equally a strong feeling that this should not be based on a single case or applied retrospectively. I fear last night’s debate conflated the individual case with the general concern. This link needs to be broken. I hope that answers my hon. Friend’s question.

As regards the vexed question of whipping, as I understand it, all Whips are attendance Whips. My hon. Friend is well known for his independence of mind, and I am sure his constituents are aware of that, but to vandalise some Member’s property or office because of the way that Member voted seems to me to be potentially a breach of privilege, and it may be something that needs to be looked into with considerable care. As you warned us yesterday, Mr Speaker, we always need to discuss these things in a temperate and sensible manner.

Business of the House

Peter Bone Excerpts
Thursday 21st October 2021

(3 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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The previous Speaker used to say, when points were raised that answered themselves, that the Member concerned knew parliamentary procedure so well that very little intervention was required. The appearance in Hansard of the hon. Lady’s question will go a long way to ensuring a response from the DVLA, but just to help it along its way, I shall send a copy of Hansard to the DVLA to remind it that it must respond to right hon. and hon. Members.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con)
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It is hard to believe that I was part of a tribute act, along with my hon. Friend the Member for Corby (Tom Pursglove) and Councillor Helen Harrison, when a leadership contest for the Conservative party was being run. We ran the “Back Boris” tour. We went to areas where the Prime Minister could not come and we had a substitute star. When David Amess found out about that, he was determined to get us to Southend. On that occasion, the star was the Leader of the House. We went to Iveagh Hall, Leigh-on-Sea, and it was packed, with people almost hanging from the rafters—we had everyone there. He made a wonderful speech and we overran. A lady had baked a cake for him, but because of all the events and how well David spoke we dashed off without taking it.

We dashed off to St Albans and the wonderful Anne Main. David rang me when we were on the motorway haring down to St Albans. He was desperately unhappy that the Leader of the House had not got his cake, not for that reason in itself, but because David felt he had let down his constituent who had baked the cake. David was really concerned and somehow or other he arranged to get that cake to St Albans before we left there. Taking into account what was said earlier, I wonder whether the Leader of the House could mark the pre-recess debate in the summer as the David Amess day, in response to such a kind and decent man.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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I remember the incident very well. My children then benefited from the cake, which they enjoyed very much. What was so striking about the event at Iveagh Hall was, again, how loved by his constituents David was. That is what we all want, is it not? All of us want to have our own constituents on our side, and David had achieved that and was therefore, in my mind, a model of what a constituency MP wants to be. I am the servant of the House, and if the House would like the summer Adjournment debate to be the David Amess debate, that is what it will become.

Business of the House

Peter Bone Excerpts
Thursday 9th September 2021

(4 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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Brexit has been a triumph, I am glad to say. We saw that not least with the vaccine roll-out; if we had done what the Opposition had wanted, we would not have been vaccinating people so quickly and opening up so soon. We have regained our freedom so we are able to make decisions for ourselves, but there is the eccentricity of the SNP, which wants to have independence only to hand it over to the European Union and to be told what to do by Brussels. If that is what SNP Members wish to campaign for, I do not think that they will be successful. The matter to which the hon. Gentleman refers is working its way between the Lords and the Commons, and I am sure that it will be set up at a suitable time.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con)
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It is evil, wrong and unacceptable that people are being trafficked across the English channel for the purpose of making huge sums of money for evil gangs, with what is certainly perceived to be the help of the French Government. The Home Secretary is totally right to introduce legislation to turn those boats back, because that is the only way that we are going to end this evil trade. I have a serious suggestion to the Leader of the House. My private Member’s Bill, the Asylum Seekers (Return to Safe Countries) Bill, does exactly that. It has had its First Reading and has its Second Reading tomorrow. I would undertake in Committee to change the wording of the Bill to that which would be acceptable to the Government. I think it would be a speedy way of moving the matter forward. Does the Leader of the House support that idea?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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My hon. Friend is right to say that the people traffickers are evil. They are the cause of the problem and they trade on people’s distress, which is fundamentally wrong. The Nationality and Borders Bill is also going through the House—it is going off to Committee next month—so other legislative measures are being introduced, but my hon. Friend is extremely helpful in bringing forward good ideas as to how we can make things work. I note, again, that turning boats back was a policy followed extremely successfully by the Australians and has had the benefit of stopping the evil trade there.

Business of the House

Peter Bone Excerpts
Tuesday 7th September 2021

(4 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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That was a fine example of sound and fury which signifieth nothing. It is entirely routine for matters to be brought before the House in this way. Whenever a Budget comes forward, the Budget resolutions may be voted on that very evening. It has always been the case that matters relating to taxation are dealt with swiftly, because it is important to ensure that people are not able to take forestalling measures and so forth which become possible if taxation is not dealt with properly.

Tomorrow is in fact about dealing with the Standing Orders of this House, which require a Ways and Means resolution before legislation may be brought forward. The legislation will be brought forward in due course, and I will announce it in a business statement. All of this is completely routine and standard. I am afraid that the more the Labour party says that there is no plan, when a plan has been published, detailed by the Prime Minister and announced to the world, the more it shows the vacuity of the opposition—an Opposition who learn nothing and remember nothing.

Peter Bone Portrait Mr Peter Bone (Wellingborough) (Con)
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I congratulate the Government on the Prime Minister’s giving another statement to the House. That is two in two days, I think. He has been one of the most active Prime Ministers in Parliament.

On the business statement, can the Leader of the House give us an assurance on the amount of time for tomorrow’s debate? I welcome the early debate, but I want to ensure that there is enough time for Members to get in. Has he any view on the length of the debate?

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Rees-Mogg
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The House may be surprised that, in the absence of call lists, it is much harder to plant questions. However, my hon. Friend’s is extraordinarily useful, because I am pleased to tell the House that the whole of tomorrow will be available for the Ways and Means resolution, subject, of course, to urgent questions at the discretion of Mr Speaker, and statements that may prove necessary.