Privilege (Withdrawal Agreement: Legal Advice)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:32 pm on 4th December 2018.

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Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Father of the House of Commons 2:32 pm, 4th December 2018

Well, perhaps the usual channels were more reliable in the past. We would get together and agree that the House has passed a resolution, but there are these problems, and we satisfy the Opposition that their political desires can be satisfied and they can get all the documents with the embarrassing political opinions of the Attorney General—though I do not think they will find much, because the Attorney General is pretty candid. He is a very sound Brexiteer. He and I do not agree on Europe in the slightest.

They can excise things such as security, which we have talked about. I do not know what is being excluded or held back, but it is likely to be comments on the negotiating position of the Commission, the strengths and weaknesses of the Government’s case and where there are risks. A great deal of a lawyer’s advice is, “This is my opinion, but the risks involved are this”. Some of these comments about other Governments, the Commission and so on may well not be in the public interest to disclose. There are reasonable people on both sides of the House and on the Procedure Committee, and I would have thought that we should certainly consider where we are going.