Speaker’S Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:33 pm on 18th March 2019.

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Photo of Robert Syms Robert Syms Conservative, Poole 3:33 pm, 18th March 2019

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. In 1604 and in 1920, we were a sovereign Parliament, and we were not subject to the EU constitution, which this House voted for under the Lisbon treaty. This House has passed legislation under article 50 for us to leave the European Union, which is time-sensitive. Parliament could proceed in a rather stately manner in 1920, because it was not subject to such things, but we as a Parliament have voted to leave on a particular date; therefore there is a certain importance to making decisions prior to that date, and not in the next Session.

Secondly, the meaningful vote in itself is a constitutional innovation. It was this Parliament trying to impose on the Government greater parliamentary scrutiny. In that process, the Government have brought forward votes—more votes than most of us expected, and with more amendments than most of us expected. There was a degree of constitutional innovation in what you ruled during that process, Mr Speaker, in order to involve Parliament. Given the time-sensitive nature of the proposal, and given that this Parliament wanted to be involved, I can see no reason why we should not be put through the pain of perhaps another vote.

I stress that the article 50 legislation went through this House and the withdrawal Act went through this House. Every Member of this House expects to have a say on the type of Brexit that we will actually undertake. Sometimes, even if we are dealing with a matter that has been dealt with before, it is important that this House makes a decision or decides not to make a decision; but not considering the matter again could in itself have consequences.