Valerie responds to Business Statement

Following the Government’s defeat on Saturday 19 October 2019, the Leader of the House made a Business Statement on Monday 21 October 2019. Below is my response in full:

This is the first opportunity that I have had on behalf of the Opposition to thank the Clerk of the House, as the senior accounting officer responsible for the House, and all the House staff, Doorkeepers and security officers for looking after us and enabling the House to get together on Saturday to do our work. I also thank the police and security services who escorted right hon. and hon. Members and their families on their way home for keeping us safe.

I thank the Leader of the House for the business statement. Obviously, I was disappointed that he did not give me notice on Saturday that he was going to make a point of order. He will know that a point of order is not the way to alter business. It is a procedural motion of the House on which Mr Speaker can rule, so it would have been helpful if the Leader of the House could have done so. He will know that on that historic day, 24 points of order were made on his point of order. Why did he leave the Chamber when that meant that he could not hear the rest of the points of order? He will need to know that he is the voice of the House in Government.

The Leader of the House has not mentioned when we will have the important debates on the Queen’s Speech that were scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. I know that the Government do not appear to care about the NHS or the economy, but we Labour Members think that they are very important topics. This could all have been done in an orderly manner, so will the Leader of the House please say when the remainder of the Queen’s Speech debate will be scheduled?

The withdrawal agreement Bill is crucial. It is vital that it receives the proper scrutiny of the House, so will the Leader of the House say when exactly the Bill will be published? It is not right that the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union says that it has anything to do with an urgent question. The Bill should be published in a timely manner so that it receives the proper scrutiny of the House. When will the programme motion be put forward? Will the Leader of the House also confirm that the Government have no plans to pull the withdrawal agreement Bill and that it will be voted on, if and as amended?

This whole process could have been conducted in an orderly manner. The Leader of the House will know that there is an appropriate way, through the usual channels, to fix the business of the House. At every stage, the Government have been running scared of this House and democracy, and they are now attempting to force through a flawed Brexit deal that sells out people’s jobs, rights and our communities.