Power to notify withdrawal from the EU

Part of European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:00 pm on 13th March 2017.

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Photo of Helen Goodman Helen Goodman Labour, Bishop Auckland 6:00 pm, 13th March 2017

I wish to speak particularly to amendment 2, which is very similar to new clauses 99 and 110, which we debated about a month ago.

Conservative Members have complained about Lord Pannick’s drafting. When Ministers make that complaint, I feel it is slightly disingenuous, because they had the opportunity to amend the amendment. If they really felt the other place should not be involved, they could have changed the drafting to say not “both Houses of Parliament” but only “the House of Commons”, or they could have taken out subsection (4), which provides for what we do if there is no agreement with the EU. They have not done that, so they are making the bar higher for their colleagues behind them. In any case, either it is a problem that the House of Lords has a veto, because it is an unelected chamber, or it is not a problem. It seems the Prime Minister made a promise that the vote would come to both Houses, so she does not seem to think it is a problem, and I do not know why it is being put up as a problem now.

Sir Oliver Letwin took us on a long perambulation about what might or might not happen. That was completely unnecessary: if we put the amendment on the face of the Bill, we would, in effect, make it part of the constitutional arrangement, which, under article 50, has to be respected by the EU counter-parties in the negotiation.