European Union (Withdrawal) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:21 pm on 7th September 2017.

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Photo of Oliver Letwin Oliver Letwin Conservative, West Dorset 3:21 pm, 7th September 2017

I agree with my right hon. and learned Friend about that and hope that in Committee we will be able to address that head on. My personal belief is that we should address it in the form of changing clause 6(3), to ensure that it is open to—indeed, that we give an inducement to—our courts to move back to the plain words of the texts of the treaties and directives, so far as they judge that can be done without injustice to individuals. That is the principle that most people who voted for leave, and indeed many of us who voted on balance to remain but have been extremely sceptical about the activities of the ECJ and the Court of Justice of the European Union for many years, would wish to see enshrined in this legislation. I suspect that I might even carry my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Rushcliffe on that point, because he was, somewhat surprisingly, very sceptical about the ECJ on many occasions—I say surprisingly, because, despite his enthusiasm for the EU, which I never quite managed to share, actually he is a very good parliamentarian and a very good lawyer and recognises that we do not want a court that makes its own law. So I think we have a way forward that we can seek to follow in Committee.

None of that should obscure the fact that this is a good and necessary Bill. Nothing that the Opposition have said has suggested that there is any structural deficiency. Therefore, I will vote for it, and I hope all my friends and colleagues on the Conservative Benches and, indeed, many on the Opposition Benches will do the same.