Business Questions 9 February 2017

Posted on February 9th, 2017

I asked the Leader of the House, Rt Hon David Lidington MP a number of issues at Business Questions:

 

I thank the Leader of the House for his statement. May I add my birthday wishes to my hon. Friend the Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn), who is my predecessor. I bought his book, and I found it very handy when I first came into the House.

 

Will there be business questions on Thursday 20 July, or will that be allocated as a pre-recess adjournment day? Can the Leader of the House tell us whether there will be any progress on a debate in Government time on restoration and renewal? In the absence of my hon. Friend the Member for Gateshead (Ian Mearns), I note that the Leader of the House has allocated an Opposition day on 23 February. Is that going to be a regular occurrence, and will he ensure that the debates that have been listed by the Backbench Business Committee also have a day allocated to them?

 

It was 25 years ago this week that the Maastricht treaty was signed. This week, in responding to and respecting the referendum, we have voted to trigger article 50 and leave the EU. In July, the Prime Minister said, “Brexit means Brexit”. The Opposition asked, “What does that mean?” The Opposition asked, “Do you have a plan and a White Paper?” Seven months later, we had a speech at Lancaster House, and eight months later we have a White Paper—which is the speech, with a few graphs. On page 9, in paragraph 1.4, the White Paper states that the Government “will bring forward a White Paper on the Great Repeal Bill”.

 

Will that be a further White Paper and, if so, when will it be published? Could the Leader of the House ensure that it is not published on the day of the Queen’s Speech, whenever that is?

 

Businesses wanted to stay in the single market, and there is the prospect of losing 32,000 jobs in financial services. Could we have a statement on what the Government will do to protect those jobs and secure London’s place as the No. 1 financial centre, as ranked by the global financial centres index? The EU budget is mentioned only twice in the White Paper, both times in section 8.51, which consists of 83 words. Will the Government be revealing more words and, more importantly, figures on the budget in a statement?

 

Could we have a definition of “frictionless” negotiations? The word appears 12 times in the White Paper. Can the Leader of the House tell us whether the concession made on Tuesday by the Minister on a vote before the final deal was an example of frictionless negotiations—that is to say, meaningless and not to be trusted?

 

Labour Members tabled amendments to put the case for those who voted to remain and for the country, but it was a sad day when the Government voted down all the amendments so that the Prime Minister could say that the Bill was unamended. The Prime Minister delivered for her party, but not for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales.

 

The Government will want to take note, in negotiations, that the Serious Fraud Office has found that Rolls-Royce admitted it used multimillion pound bribes to secure export orders and received financial support from the Government’s credit agency in 1991, when it paid a $2 million bribe to win a contract with Indonesia. There is a review, so may we have a statement on what safeguards there will be to ensure that, as the Government negotiate trade deals around the world in 730 days’ time, there will not be a repeat of this?

 

At Prime Minister’s questions yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition asked the Prime Minister three times whether a special deal was offered to Surrey for social care. The Prime Minister was dismissive, and did not answer the question. If there is no special deal for Surrey, why did the Prime Minister simply not confirm that? I and other hon. Members want a memorandum of understanding to secure our libraries and social care, so may we have a statement on Surrey-gate and the discussions Nick and Dave had about securing an MOU?

 

Turning to House matters, my hon. Friend the Member for Barnsley Central (Dan Jarvis) has had his Child Poverty in the UK (Target for Reduction) Bill talked out yet again. I have previously raised the issue of Bills being talked out, which makes Parliament look petty. How can we move forward on the Procedure Committee recommendation about a time limit under Standing Order No. 47, given that the Government response of 16 January says that they will not accept that? How can we progress this matter and break this impasse? Many hard-working Members who have worked hard on their Bills want to see them get through.

 

May we have a debate on early-day motion 890, tabled by my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff South and Penarth (Stephen Doughty), which has been signed by 201 Members, including Front Benchers?

 

[That this House deplores recent actions taken by US President Donald J Trump, including his Executive Order on Immigration and Refugees, and notably his comments on torture and women; notes the historical significance and honour that comes with an invitation to address both Houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall or elsewhere in the Palace of Westminster; and calls on the Speaker, Lord Speaker, Black Rod and Serjeant at Arms to withhold permission from the Government for an address to be made in Westminster Hall, or elsewhere in the Palace of Westminster, by President Trump.]

 

When a person refers to a senator, Elizabeth Warren, as Pocahontas and she is then silenced by her party; when a person repeats the cry “Lock her up” of a candidate when no offence has been committed; when a person suggests women should be grabbed in certain places without their consent; when a person has consistently questioned the birthplace of a president, President Obama; when a person wants “America first”, but made his business investments anywhere but America; when a person has a key adviser who ran an alt-right website and whose appointment was welcomed by the Ku Klux Klan; and when a person forgets there were native Americans or first nations before he arrived in the US, then I—born in Aden, Yemen, of Goan Indian heritage, who may or may not be directly affected by the travel ban—and others welcome the support given to us and to the reputation of Parliament. Will the Leader of the House therefore confirm that the Government will not support any attempts to act on the letter to the Prime Minister about comments made in a point of order in this Chamber? Will he also confirm that the House of Lords will not be threatened with abolition when dealing with article 50 legislation?

 

Sixty-five years ago on Monday, Her Majesty ascended the throne, and this House congratulates her on that sapphire milestone. May I ask the Leader of the House for clarification: who issues an invitation for a state visit, can the Prime Minister do it without consulting anyone and who did she consult in this case, or is this a case of frictionless negotiation—“You give me a trade deal in exchange for a state visit”? We should be told.