Power to notify withdrawal from the EU

Part of European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:45 pm on 13th March 2017.

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Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Chair, European Scrutiny Committee 5:45 pm, 13th March 2017

First, this is a very simple Bill that is merely about notification and triggering. It is as simple as that. Secondly, the plain fact is that judicial review, which my right hon. Friends the Members for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin) and for Forest of Dean (Mr Harper) dealt with so well, would be a gift to the courts and the lawyers. It really is completely inappropriate. My third point is on the question of parliamentary sovereignty. The fact is that the issue today is not about parliamentary sovereignty. In fact, it is about undermining a decision that has been made by a referendum of the British people that was itself conferred by a sovereign Act of Parliament. That is the distinction and that is what we need to concentrate on.

My last point is simply this: we cannot tie the Prime Minister’s hands. It is inconceivable that we would legislate, make that judicially reviewable and, at the same time, pass amendments the effect of which would be to introduce a Committee of Parliament that would decide on questions that have to be decided on by the Government. Our constitution operates by parliamentary government, not by Committee of Parliament, otherwise we would go back to the 17th century; and I invite people to look at the Barebones Parliament.