Parliamentary oversight of negotiations

Part of Informal European Council – in the House of Commons at 6:00 pm on 6th February 2017.

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Photo of Stephen Gethins Stephen Gethins Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Europe) 6:00 pm, 6th February 2017

My hon. Friend makes an excellent point, and I am not surprised, given the amount of hard work he has done for EU nationals in his constituency.

If Conservative Members are so confident in the ECHR, which they now promise us they are, I look forward to the hon. Gentleman voting against his own Government. I do not trust Conservative Members entirely, but if there is not a problem under the ECHR, he and his colleagues will have absolutely no problem joining us in the Lobby.

We will debate the devolved process in the next tranche of proposals, but let me just say this about scrutiny. All of this will have an impact on the devolution process, be it in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. If Ministers respect the devolution process, they should have no problem with the additional scrutiny that comes with it. Right now we are in a situation where the unelected House of Lords will have a greater say on this process than the elected Scottish Parliament and other devolved legislatures. No Government, regardless of their colour, have a monopoly on wisdom. The whole point of having a Parliament is that we scrutinise, with the courage of our convictions, and this place makes a contribution. If this Government are confident in what they are doing—or know what they are doing and have any kind of a plan—they should welcome scrutiny in the Chamber here and then elsewhere in these islands, because fundamentally that scrutiny will provide better legislation. On something of such enormity that we are about to undertake, they have a responsibility for it to be scrutinised as much as possible.

Let us not underestimate the impact of the decision that we are about to make this week. It will impact on our rights, on our economy, and on each and every one of us. We will encourage the strengthening of anything that increases scrutiny of this process. The Government’s record so far has not been good. I am not heartened by what I have seen, with a White Paper that was rushed out and could not even get its facts right. We therefore owe a debt of responsibility to people across the UK—and, indeed, beyond—to have more scrutiny than we are promised and more than we have at present.