Constitutional affairs

Mike Wood: Does my right hon. Friend share my concern at the apparent lack of appropriate ministerial oversight in the early years of this century? What has been done to ensure that the intelligence agencies are properly accountable to Ministers?

 

David Lidington Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Minister of State (Cabinet Office)

I shall speak very briefly, because so many of the points made during last month’s debate on the Cox report apply to this debate, and so many further points have been made so effectively by Members on both sides of the House today.

Mike Wood: What contingencies have the Government put in place for the risk that Serco ceases to operate, partly as a result of the fine?

 

Paul Maynard (The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice)

We have absolutely no indication at all that the fine has had any impact on Serco’s ability to deliver its current contracts to the Government.

Mike Wood: Will the Minister confirm that the UC1 form is not some arbitrary requirement, as has been suggested, but a core requirement of European law that is required of all European member states and has not been changed since previous elections?

 

Kevin Foster Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales, The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office

Mike Wood: Can the Minister confirm that, notwithstanding last night’s agreement, the Article 50 period will only be extended if the House votes for a statutory instrument to give effect to such an extension?

 

Kwasi Kwarteng The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

My hon. Friend is quite right. The Government would have to lay a statutory instrument and the House would have to debate and vote on it.

Mike Wood: Does my hon. Friend feel that, on the occasions when there is an opportunity to ask difficult questions of the Prime Minister, she is generally more discomfited by questions from the Leader of the Opposition or from himself?

 

Peter Bone Conservative, Wellingborough

That is a very good intervention, but time does not allow me to respond to it. [Laughter.]

Mike Wood: My right hon. Friend will not be surprised to hear that I will not support the motion this evening. What message does he think it would send to those we represent if, nearly three years after voting to leave the European Union, we held elections to the European Parliament?

 

David Lidington Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Minister of State (Cabinet Office)

Mike Wood: The Shadow Minister puts a lot of store in comments made by various House of Lords Sub-Committees on this statutory instrument. Will he tell us whether the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments raised any objections to it?

 

Imran Hussain Shadow Minister (Justice)

Mike Wood: Given the pressures on today’s Order Paper to which the hon. Member for Gateshead (Ian Mearns) referred, might the Leader of the House find an opportunity—the earliest opportunity—for a general debate on beer taxation and pubs?

 

Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

Mike Wood: This House can have confidence in the Government because they have taken the country from the brink of bankruptcy to the point where we have a successful and growing economy that is creating prosperity and better opportunities for people in every part of the country. They recognise the hopes and aspirations of hard-working people—people who work hard and want their children to have better chances than they had.

Mike Wood: On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The guidance that you issued to Members earlier in the week drew attention to both the need for temperate language and the provisions around misogynistic language as part of the respect policy. If these rules do not apply to the Leader of the Opposition, what protection can Members’ staff and staff of the House expect where behaviour is not broadcast live on international television?

 

John Bercow (Speaker of the House of Commons)

Mike Wood: What action are the Government taking to seek a range of views on potential measures to secure our voting system from overseas interference?

 

Chloe Smith The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office, Assistant Whip

Mike Wood: What safeguards can be put in place to make sure that the provisions to save parts of the European Communities Act cannot be extended beyond the agreed implementation period?

 

Dominic Raab The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

Mike Wood: I benefited from pairing arrangements on a number of occasions last year. I do not have a clue which Opposition Members I was paired with, or whether any of those pairs were broken. Does my right hon. Friend recognise that the pairing system generally works very well for many people who need a pair—whether because of serious illness, parental leave or bereavement leave—and most of our constituents, once they know the facts, do actually understand why some of us may miss votes for a period?

 

Mike Wood: The hon. Gentleman is suggesting that it is somehow the tabloid press that is objecting and campaigning against Leveson 2. However, it was The Guardian that said, back in March, that Leveson 2 would be

“like a driver learning to steer by looking in the rear-view mirror at the road behind rather than the one ahead.”

Mike Wood: Dudley South has one of the biggest shopping centres in the country, a new enterprise zone and one of the largest secure industrial parks in Europe, but it has no railway station and on a good day it is probably half an hour from the nearest motorway junction.

Mike Wood: As we have heard, it has been 12 months since the Scottish Government were defeated, and they are still at the consultation stage, whereas in the four weeks since the House expressed a view on the two motions in question, the Government have announced a policy change on the level of next year’s tuition fees, and they have announced different terms of reference for the public pay review bodies. The Government have done exactly what the hon.

Mike Wood: Some illegal Traveller camps in Dudley have left behind criminal damage and large clean-up bills for council tax payers. May we have a debate on the use of police powers to remove illegal camps and on proposals to allow combined authorities to pool provision for authorised Traveller sites, rather than insisting that each local authority has its own provision?

 

Andrea Leadsom Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

Mike Wood: It has been suggested that, as we negotiate our exit from the European Union, the United Kingdom should abstain in decisions in the Council. Will the Minister explain what the impact of a British abstention would be on those decisions?

 

Margot James Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland, what the potential effect of the Autumn Statement 2016 will be on the budget of the Scottish Government.

Mike Wood: What alternative to direct rule would be available if these elections did not result in an immediate power-sharing Government?

 

James Brokenshire The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

Mike Wood: May we have a debate on making it easier for metropolitan councils to switch to all-out elections or elections by halves so that councils such as Dudley can cut the cost of local politics?

 

Chris Grayling Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons

The Budget builds on the Chancellor’s strong record over the past six years of restoring sanity to the public finances, rebuilding the nation’s economy and securing growth. It is a shame that the shadow Chancellor is no longer in the Chamber, but I am sure that the shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury will pass on the message that despite the shadow Chancellor’s mean-spirited comments to the Chancellor, such a feeling is not reciprocated on the Government Benches.

Mike Wood: Will my right hon. Friend join me in welcoming the commission’s conclusion that it would be inappropriate to introduce further charges for requests under the Act? Can he reassure my constituents that the Government have no plans to do so?

 

Matthew Hancock The Paymaster General and Minister for the Cabinet Office

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