I called for an emergency debate in Parliament to be held on Monday 17 July on the lack of Commons business under the rules of Standing Order No. 24 (SO24). SO24 is a rule that allows an MP to ask the Speaker to allow time for an emergency debate on a particular topic. Below is my speech:
“I rise to propose that the House should debate a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration: the scheduling of business by the Leader of the House.
The title of the debate, if granted under this application, is that this House has considered the matter of the scheduling of parliamentary business and that, given the announcement by the Government of a two-year Session, references to “Session” in the Standing Orders should be interpreted as per year, therefore with dates allocated to be pro rata.
I have asked the Leader of the House several times for debates on issues that directly affect our constituents. We have just completed an election where we asked people to vote for us. As a parliamentary democracy, they expect us to debate and vote on motions that were relevant to their lives 31 days ago. Our constituents expected us to come back to work straight away; instead, since the Gracious Speech there have only been seven votes. This is undermining our democracy.
As you are aware, Madam Deputy Speaker, I have asked a number of times for a debate on statutory instruments that have been prayed against, as is the usual convention, but no time has been allocated.
The second reason is to do with the days allocated for private Member’s Bills. Only 13 have been allocated for one year up until November 2018. The current Session lasts for two years.
Thirdly, at the same time not a single date has been offered, or allocated for, an Opposition day for any party. Earlier, the Leader of the House said in response to a business question that a date was offered in September, but I am not aware of that. In this debate, we would also need to clarify what a Session is. It is now two years, but we would not expect one year’s worth of Opposition days to be allocated over the two years.
In support of this application, I repeat the Prime Minister’s words: “through debate and discussion,” these are the
“hallmarks of our parliamentary democracy”.
It is also important to our constitution to have the debate when required by convention as a number of statutory instruments will flow from the repeal Bill. That is why I make this application today.”