Valerie responds to Business Statement

I responded to the Business Statement on 19 December 2019. You can read my speech in full below:

I welcome the Leader of the House back to his position. I am glad to see that he has emerged from North East Somerset—we were a bit worried because we had not seen him during the election, but it is good that he is around. I know that it is common sense for him to be hiding away, but it is good that he is back.

I thank the Leader of the House for the business for the next sitting week. Will he say when the further dates are for the Queen’s Speech debate, or are we going to have another Queen’s Speech? I hope not; we still have not finished the debate on this one. I note the motions on the appointment of temporary Deputy Speakers and the timing of the allocation of the Select Committee Chairs. If possible, will he set out a timetable for the election of the Deputy Speakers and the Select Committee Chairs?

Can the Leader of the House confirm the recess dates up to July 2020? We are now not in a hung Parliament and there is a bit more stability, so will he say when that motion is likely to be brought to the House? The staff of the House, to whom he has paid full tribute, need that certainty—obviously, they have to get the House ready—not to mention our staff and us.

It would be useful to know what the Government’s intentions are for the length of this Session. Will the Leader of the House also ensure that the rights of Her Majesty’s Opposition, the Backbench Business work and Private Members’ Bills will be reflected in the intended length of the Session? It would also be helpful to right hon. and hon. Members if he set some Friday sitting dates.

I want to take this opportunity to welcome new Members to this remarkable place and to pay tribute to Members who lost their seats. We have seen the roll call. They made a fantastic contribution to public service and they will be missed—those who lost their seats and those who perhaps were not able to stand again. We Labour Members are pleased that we have more women than men in our group.

I also let new Members know that the normal business questions of the House are a very exciting time, as I am sure that the Leader of the House will agree. We have a fine time trying to work out what the business is for next week and we raise important issues for our constituencies. For new Members, there is a SuperHub in the Attlee Suite in Portcullis House, which is open until 10 January. Members will know that there are very, very good, efficient and kind staff who will help them to see their way through all the different processes. I want to point out to them the “MPs’ Guide to Procedure”, which is a handy book, written in 21st-century language. It is a wonderful resource and Joanna Dodd has to be thanked for pulling it together. She also knows how to do indicative votes—something we had never done before—so we are moving into the 21st century.

Finally, as far as I am concerned, I have always been elected by the people. This has always been a people’s Parliament. It is not the people’s Parliament for the first time; we are all democratically elected. I want to thank all the staff for bringing us back here, in time, and to thank them all for what will happen next year, because there are lots of challenges with the rebuilding and restoration and renewal. I wish all right hon. and hon. Members and all the staff of the House—every single person—a peaceful Christmas and a very happy 2020.