BUSINESS QUESTION – AIRCRAFT CARRIERS – 13 January 2009

The Leader of the House of Commons (Ms Harriet Harman): In the business statement I made to the House on 18 December, I announced that the business of the House for this Thursday, 15 January, would be a topical debate followed by a general debate on armed forces personnel. On Monday this week, I chose Gaza as the subject of the topical debate. That would have been a one and a half hour debate. Since then, I have become aware that there are many hon. Members who want to contribute to the debate, and representations have been made to me to make it a full day's debate. I have therefore decided to put back the debate on armed forces personnel to another day and the business of the House this Thursday will be a full day's debate on Gaza ...

Dr Julian Lewis: I fully concur with the reasoning of the Leader of the House on the substitution of debate topics, but when she addresses the issue of reinstating the armed forces personnel debate, will she try to bring forward a date for the armed forces procurement debate, which is normally one of the five annual debates? She did her gallant best to try to square the circle of there not having been an announcement on the Floor of the House about the carriers by saying that we could talk about the subject in a personnel debate, but that is not very satisfactory. We need to talk about the procurement issue in a procurement debate as soon as possible.

Ms Harman: There will be an annual debate on procurement, and an annual debate on armed forces personnel. I had not understood the hon. Gentleman to be saying that the two should be put into one debate –

Dr Lewis: No, they should be scheduled closely together.

Ms Harman: Of course the subjects are interrelated. Well, we will have to reflect on that suggestion.