Business Questions 13 September 2018

I raised with the Leader of the House, the impact that a no deal Brexit will have on the UK. The National Farmers Union said that a no deal Brexit would be an “Armageddon scenario”, the Government’s own technical notes state that UK institutions would no longer be eligible for three Horizon 2020 funding lines and a no deal will cost the UK research £520 million a year, and the National Police Coordination Centre warns that the “necessity to call on military assistance is a real possibility” after we leave the EU with no deal.

Below is my speech in full:

I thank the Leader of the House for the forthcoming business, although we seem to be back to announcing just business for a week and a day. If not today, perhaps at the next business statement, could she give the House the recess dates for February and Easter? People want to plan. She has not made any statement about sitting Fridays either, which both I and the hon. Member for Perth and North Perthshire (Pete Wishart) have raised. I say that partly because there are only six months to go until we leave the EU, and it seems that the EU is signalling that there will be a deal in November. There is a lot of legislation to be scheduled and effectively only January, February and March in which to debate it.

I assume that the Trade Bill and the Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Bill will be returning from the Lords. When will we get to debate them? The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the hon. Member for Camborne and Redruth (George Eustice), just told us that the fisheries Bill would be published this Session. Could the Leader of the House be more specific? And when will the immigration Bill be published? There are also more than 800 statutory instruments to be scrutinised. It would be helpful if the Government could make a statement setting out the timetable for all this legislation.

I agree with the Leader of the House about Back British Farming Day yesterday—everyone was wearing their sheaves of wheat. She will know of the importance to farmers, their workers and the wider rural economy of agricultural wages and the compensation scheme for bovine TB cases. These public policy issues are of great importance to hon. Members on both sides of the House, so I hope she noticed yesterday that a prayer and a revocation motion were tabled in the name of the Leader of the Opposition. I am talking about early-day motions 1627 and 1628. Will the Leader of the House ensure that those two orders are debated in Committee as soon as possible?

The Leader of the House was right: on 10 September the Boundary Commission laid its report. It is astonishing that the Government want to go ahead with these boundary changes; it is a blatant power grab. There are no plans to reduce the number of Ministers; we have an overpowering Executive in the House with a weakened Parliament in which the voice of Back Benchers will have less weight in the House proportionally. The Electoral Reform Society says that if the number of Ministers remain unchanged, 23% of all MPs and 45% of Conservative MPs will be obliged to vote with the Government, which is an historical high.

The Government should support the Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Afzal Khan)—it is much better; it is an up-to-date Bill with up-to-date figures, but he is still waiting up in Committee Room every Wednesday for his money resolution—unless, of course, the reduction of 50 MPs will be those 50 from the European Research Group. I say that only because the Prime Minister’s plans are being torn apart from within her own party. The Prime Minister appears to be up for mandatory reselection—sorry, mandatory deselection by a party within a party. The hon. Member for Wycombe (Mr Baker) has warned of a “catastrophic split” in the Conservative party if the Prime Minister attempts to force the Chequers plan through Parliament.

Last week at Prime Minister’s questions, the Leader of the Opposition raised comments by the National Farmers Union that a no deal Brexit would be an “Armageddon scenario”, and we should add the following to that: Panasonic is to move its European headquarters from London to Amsterdam in October; Unilever said on 11 September that it was going to end its dual Anglo-Dutch structure and make Rotterdam its main headquarters; and Jaguar Land Rover has written to the Prime Minister to say that no deal would put “tens of thousands” of jobs at risk. On science and research, the Government’s own technical notes state that UK institutions would no longer be eligible for three Horizon 2020 funding lines and no deal will cost the UK research £520 million a year and lack of collaboration with our scientists and friends across the globe.

No deal would also have an impact on our security. The National Police Coordination Centre warns that the “necessity to call on military assistance is a real possibility” after we leave the EU with no deal. New impact papers published today say driving licences, passports and phone bills will all be affected with a no deal, and the technical paper on aviation has not been published—I presume not to alarm the country that planes will have difficulty landing. Can the Leader of the House say when that will be published, and will she schedule a debate on the impact on our country of a no deal when all the technical papers are published?

The hon. Member for North East Somerset (Mr Rees-Mogg) and his family have faced a difficult time; I want to say that it is not in our name. I hope the Leader of the House will condemn the wall of sound that came from her side when the Leader of the Opposition raised the plight of the vulnerable at Prime Minister’s Question Time.

I want to thank all who were involved in the fire and safety work on the estate over the recess; they have done a fantastic job.

Last week I mentioned the application to remove Emmeline Pankhurst from Victoria Tower Gardens; Emmeline will not be moved. We celebrate two birthdays: Lord Ganesh, who apparently is the god of wisdom and prosperity. There is an event in the Jubilee Room which I encourage all Members to attend. Today was Annie Kenney’s birthday, too. There is a record of Annie Kenney and Emmeline Pankhurst signing the visitor’s book in St Davids cathedral in St Davids, our smallest city. They travelled far and wide to make the case for women’s suffrage. Finally, I remind Members that the fantastic “Voice and Vote” exhibition closes on 6 October, and I encourage everyone to attend it—and wish everyone a happy conference recess.