Over the last couple of days I have written blogs that have focused on the prorogation of Parliament and the petition signed by 1.7 million people to call for it not to take place. When I wrote yesterday about the debate regarding the petition I was unaware that the debate took place at the same time as another debate in the House of Commons. One reason of course is that because the prorogation was due to start that evening, they had to double book our representatives, but then that fully explains how prorogation is not appropriate at present. The comments I made in yesterdays blog are therefore not fully accurate as I was disappointed that no one from Sussex took part in the debate, primarily because more people in Sussex have signed the petition than in the rest of the nation if one compares this to the biggest ever petition which calls for Article 50 to be revoked. The areas where the numbers are the most significant include the three Constituencies in Brighton and Hove along with Lewes and Hastings and the two Worthing Constituencies. All of these constituencies have had this petition signed by a significant proportion compared to the Article 50 petition.
The debate that took place on Monday relating to the petition began at 4.30pm in Westminster Hall and ended at 6.33pm. It clashed with what many people could have argued was a much more important debate in the main Chamber of Commons that started at 5.10pm and ended at 6.50pm which was Prorogation (Disclosure of Communications) and that debate included a vote. The odd thing is that the people at the petition debate in Westminster Hall took part in the vote for the debate that took place in the main Chamber, so one wonders how they possibly knew what had been discussed. As I mentioned yesterday the person who convened the petition debate was Paul Scully. His starting point included the following comments which end with a very strange sentence given that prorogation prevents MPs from debating Brexit or indeed anything until after the Queens Speech:
“It is important that the Petitions Committee should always try to allow people to have their views aired. There is a reason why debates on petitions in Westminster Hall are some of the most read and watched debates: it is because we are talking about what people want us to talk about, rather than what we want to talk about. Unfortunately, or fortunately, the two coincide in this case. I have noticed that over the last three years we have wanted to talk about Brexit quite a lot; and because of the topicality of the issue, and because the Prime Minister has been clear that we will leave the EU by 31 October, come what may, people want to express their opinion, whether they want to stop no deal or stop Brexit in its entirety. It is important that we discuss that in the House of Commons. There is a clear reason why Prorogation is a sensible idea.”
And indeed the final part of the debate before the people taking part rushed over to join in with the debate in the Main Chamber was:
“The no deal that people have been talking about is the default option in terms of article 50, but not of the Government, as we have heard. It is really important that we retain that in our minds. There are simple ways to avoid no deal. So far as we are concerned, we could have voted for the withdrawal agreement, which Opposition Members did not do, or we can now vote for an election, to try to unlock the situation ahead of 31 October, so that someone else could go to Brussels to ask for that extension that Opposition Members want.
However, 14 October has been determined as the date for the Queen’s Speech because we want to set out our domestic agenda. We want to set out our ambitions apart from Brexit over the next 12 months. It is so important that we do so; it is what members of the public are crying out for.”
What I am not sure about is how Paul knows that the public are crying out to find out about the domestic agenda, given that 1.7 million of us called for the prorogation not to take place and no one has called for the Queens Speech to be set out. However perhaps the most important issue is why where two debates taking place in Westminster at the same time on the same theme?