I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time. Taking a leaf out of the Liberal Democrat book, I do so enthusiastically.
The Bill is essential to preparing the country for the historic milestone of withdrawing from the European Union. It ensures that on day one we will have a statute book that works, with this Government delivering the smooth and orderly exit desired by people and businesses across the United Kingdom. It is a complex piece of legislation, which is unsurprising given that it seeks to put into British law the entire acquis of European law—established over 40 years or more of membership—and to do so in a few years while active negotiations are going on.
The House has spent more than 80 hours discussing the Bill’s principles and why they are necessary. We have scrutinised each clause and schedule in detail, and we have debated the merits of more than 500 amendments and new clauses. I thank the Members who took the time to table amendments, and I thank them for the spirit in which they have engaged with the debate throughout. I pay tribute to the Clerks and officials in the Public Bill Office who have provided invaluable support for Members in all parts of the House, advising on the drafting and tabling of those hundreds of amendments.
I pay special tribute to several colleagues for their individual contributions. I thank my right hon. Friend Sir Oliver Letwin and my hon. Friend Mr Walker for tabling amendments that will undoubtedly enhance this legislation by providing greater certainty over the timing of exit day and how secondary legislation will be scrutinised. I also pay tribute to other Conservative colleagues for their contributions throughout the debate, notably my hon. and learned Friend Mr Cox, my hon. Friend Robert Neill, my right hon. and learned Friend Mr Grieve, my right hon. Friend Mr Vaizey, my hon. Friend Mr Jenkin and my right hon. Friends the Members for Basingstoke (Mrs Miller) and for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr Duncan Smith). I am grateful to them all for their hard work—[Interruption.] I have not finished yet. I am grateful to them all for their hard work in effectively scrutinising this legislation and their tireless work in representing their constituents.
I also thank Opposition Members for their contributions. We heard impassioned and eloquent contributions from Frank Field, Kate Hoey, Mary Creagh, the right hon. Members for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper) and for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn), and the hon. Members for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) and for North Down (Lady Hermon) among many others, who all played—[Interruption.] I will take nominations, Mr Speaker, if you really want, but I think I just picked out the highlights; many others made fantastic contributions. In the interests of brevity and to allow others to speak, I would like the House to take as read the detailed thanks to the Front Benchers of both sides.
I said on Second Reading that I would
“welcome and encourage contributions from those who approach the task in good faith and in a spirit of collaboration.”—[Official Report,
Vol. 628, c. 343.]
All of us, as elected representatives, have a shared interest in making this Bill a success in the national interest. The Government have said time and again that we would listen carefully to all suggestions put forward and that, where hon. Members made a compelling case, we would respectfully consider it and act accordingly.
I hope that Members agree that in this debate we have often heard the very best of what this House is here to do. We have tabled amendments to provide extra information about equalities impacts and the changes being made to retained EU law under the powers in the Bill. We published a right-by-right analysis of the charter of fundamental rights, setting out how each substantive right found in the charter will be reflected in UK domestic law. It looks at how the right flows through retained EU law and how it is otherwise protected by existing domestic law or international law after exit.