Pairing precedent

Today I have been informed by Labour peer Lord Pendry that a pairing breach took place in 1977 during the passage of the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill, similar to the breach during last week's Brexit votes.

Then PM James Callaghan and Opposition leader Margaret Thatcher met afterwards and agreed that a motion to refer the bill in question to the appropriate select committee would be debated by the House, in order to give all members an opportunity to vote again on the issues where pairing had been broken.


What is striking in reading Callaghan's words is the determination to uphold trust and candour in the democratic processes of Parliament.  Sadly, those values have been gravely missing from Theresa May's approach over the last few days. 


It is now incumbent upon Mrs May to show the same decency and leadership that Callaghan showed 41 years ago, by referring the bill to the Brexit select committee enabling MPs to vote again on the issue. This is now a matter of public trust in politics.


Below you can read Callaghan's statement which is in the National Archives and features in Lord Pendry's book ‘Take it on the Chin’.