‘I don’t feel I should apologise,’ said Hayes and Harlington Labour MP John McDonnell yesterday after being ordered out of the House of Commons and suspended for a week after dramatically halting the debate on the government’s go-ahead for a third Heathrow runway.
McDonnell, whose constituency borders Sipson, where hundreds of homes will be bulldozed to make way for a third runway and sixth terminal, shouted ‘disgrace’ as transport secretary Hoon said MPs would not get a vote on the decision.
When called to order, McDonnell repeated his call, proceeded to lift the mace, placed it on the MPs’ benches and refused to end his protest.
He said afterwards: ‘Thousands of my constituents will lose their homes if this goes ahead.
‘I asked the Secretary of State a simple question.
This is a major decision not just for my area but for the whole country and because of the climate impact, for the planet.
‘I asked would we have a vote in the House of Commons.
‘The government said we could have a debate and I was really pleased and I thought then we would have a vote at the end of that debate that would decide whether this project goes ahead.
‘But the Secretary of State said no there will be no vote.
‘I simply asserted the right of MPs to vote on this issue.
‘And I took the traditional route, which stems back to Cromwell’s days, in which I lifted the mace and I placed on the benches.
‘And I said to the Speaker, this is about asserting the rights of MPs, who stood in elections, come to the House of Commons to decide the policies of this country not to have them bulldozed through by a government without a vote in the House of Commons.’
He added: ‘I was hoping the government would allow us a democratic debate and a vote. And to deny that, undermines our parliamentary democracy.’
He stressed: ‘Today, I was reasserting the values of democracy and the over-riding sovereignty of parliament.’