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2nd Day

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 10:02 pm on 11th September 2017.

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Photo of Stephen Kerr Stephen Kerr Conservative, Stirling 10:02 pm, 11th September 2017

I rise with enthusiasm to support the main principles of the Bill and its Second Reading. We have heard many excellent contributions and I would like to express my appreciation for the quality of this debate. To me, the debate comes down to something rather straightforward. When this House passed the Bill to hold an in/out referendum on the United Kingdom’s continued membership of the European Union, it entered a compact with the British people to act on their direct instruction. This Second Reading debate is about main principles. The first principle of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill is to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 on the day we leave the European Union. A vote against that principle will be an attempt to set aside the result of the referendum and a base disrespect to the British people—it is as uncomplicated as that.

The second principle of the Bill is to convert EU law, taken as a whole, into UK law so that we can have a stable and functioning statute book on the day we leave the European Union. A vote against that principle would create the potential for instability and uncertainty, because we would have a broken statute book on the day we leave the European Union. It is no more complicated than that. This is a grand moment for British pragmatism.

Sincerely held concerns have been and are being raised about the Bill’s so-called Henry VIII powers. A number of right hon. and hon. Members on both sides of the House have made positive suggestions that deserve the careful consideration of the Government Front Bench—[Interruption.] Thanks for the prompt. There is clearly a willingness on the part of the Government both to listen and to accommodate, and I fully expect them to be as good as their word. That said, I find it strange that some of those who object so strenuously to the so-called Henry VIII powers and the Bill seem not to have had many concerns over the past 44 years when Governments have been expected to enact a steady stream of EU laws and regulations that neither the Government nor Parliament have had the power to change or the capacity to scrutinise properly.