PROCEDURE – BACKBENCH BUSINESS COMMITTEE – 12 June 2012

Dr Julian Lewis: I should like to defend the idea that votable motions on a Thursday are not in the interests of Back Benchers, because the danger is that the Government will simply impose a one-line Whip and any vote held on a Thursday will be rather meaningless, as people will not attend in sufficient numbers. I believe that my wish to have a votable debate on the renewal of Trident has been shortlisted and is somewhere in the queue for future debate, and I hope that that votable debate, which would not be worth having if it were not votable, will be held on an evening other than a Thursday so that people are present and the temperature within and across parties can be measured accurately.

[Christopher Chope: My hon. Friend makes a very good point, and I am with him all the way on his campaign to have a debate about that all-important issue of renewing our nuclear deterrent. ... ]

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Dr Lewis: Although the Government certainly did not enjoy the experience of the vote on a referendum on Europe, might they not, taking a broader view over time, come to reflect on the fact that Parliament as a whole was a definite gainer from that vote and that a lot more interest in, and respect for, Parliament resulted from it?

[Mr Chope: I am sure that that is absolutely right. We should accept that the Government have done Parliament and Back-Benchers a good turn in facilitating the work of the Backbench Business Committee. ... ]

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Dr Lewis: I thank the Deputy Leader of the House [David Heath], as always, for giving way graciously. Given that we have the opportunity of this debate, would he care to use it to reassure Back-Benchers that the Government have no intention whatsoever of trying to prevent votable motions from being debated on days other than Thursdays?

[The Parliamentary Secretary, Office of the Leader of the House of Commons (Mr David Heath): Whether the Government have any mechanism to do that is in the hands of the Backbench Business Committee, which was set up by this Government. ... ]