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.