Mr Redwood’s contribution to the debate on the Succession to the Crown Bill (Allocation of Time), 22 Jan

Mr John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con): One of the worst constitutional innovations of the previous Government was their decision to automatically timetable every piece of legislation they brought before this House, which I regretted and opposed at the time. When the coalition Government took office, I was very pleased with their language, because they told us that they were committed to a stronger democracy and a stronger Parliament. What better proof could there be that they not only have those beliefs, but wish to put them into action, than that they not automatically timetable every Bill brought before us?

I rise to speak on the timetable motion because there is a feeling in the House that it is wrong and because it relates to a constitutional Bill. If there is any kind of legislation that should be hammered out and discussed in full on the Floor of the House, it is on matters relating to our constitution. We are the custodians of the constitution. That constitution either expresses the freedoms we believe in or it lets us down, depending on our point of view and the state we have reached. It would be a great day if the Deputy Prime Minister, a former lover of freedom and of an independent Parliament, rose from the Front Bench and said, “I hear what you say. We will give you the freedom to debate this at the length of your choosing.”

Often when we have guillotines, we find that legislation is rushed through with insufficient consideration. Last night an important Bill went through with a big chunk of work left undone by the House of Commons, which means we have to leave it to the House of Lords. There is no reason for that. We could have a few more sitting days, or we could stay here a little later in the evenings. Some of us want to do the job properly and time should be made available for that.

It is even more important to allow proper consideration on something of this magnitude. We have heard today from hon. Ladies and Gentlemen who have a range of very different views on the country they belong to, the oath they wish to swear and the allegiance they wish to show. We are going to the heart of what this nation is, how it expresses itself and how it represents itself at the highest level. I think that it is quite wrong to shorten debate on that. It might be that when we get to the debate we will not need much more time than the Government have allowed, but surely they can trust a free Parliament. Surely, on this issue, they can let Parliament have its way and discuss what it wishes for a reasonable length of time.

Before the Labour Government, previous Governments always reserved the right to introduce a guillotine motion if they felt that the Opposition were behaving unreasonably and not allowing sensible progress to be made. All democratic Oppositions ultimately agree that Governments have a right to get their legislation through if it has been properly advertised and argued for in general elections. Surely, on this issue, this is the time for the Deputy Prime Minister to strengthen his reputation, make his name with a blow for freedom and allow us to speak for as long as we wish.


  1. Gammidgy
    January 23, 2013

    And on what part of this Bill do you intend to speak at length? Please tell us.

  2. margaret brandreth-j
    January 23, 2013

    Yes I noticed that a mamber wanted to rush through religious matters quickly as he found it offensive to his religion. Any change in the constitution will have ramifications that will last foras long as our childrens children and so on can envisage. If a point has to be guillotined then we must look at other motives than pure dislike of others beliefs.
    The debate continued with a comment that it doesn’t matter which christian religion is more important than an other and morally this is so , however tactically and for the security our nation, it must be recognised that our history is anglican, as for example, in contrast to Rome.

  3. P O Pensioner
    January 24, 2013

    This subject is at the core of our democracy. This man Clegg who masquerades as “deputy prime minister” will I believe go down in history as one of the most dishonist politicians we have seen for many years. How can we believe the honesty of this man who said in 2008 that the people of this country deserve a referendum on the EU and is now saying no we don’t. Or who promised in his manifesto not to increase charges for universitystudents and then did exactly the opposite in government. Not a man to be trusted. It seems that everything Clegg meddles in develops into chaos because it is not thought through. Just like the Blair changes to our constitution.

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