Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:20 pm on 3rd April 2019.

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Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Chair, European Scrutiny Committee 3:20 pm, 3rd April 2019

I agree with everything that my hon. Friend said, but the reality is that in these special circumstances, it is about who governs and it is about sovereignty. The sovereignty was given to the people on this particular question by an Act of Parliament, as well as by their intrinsic right to vote in general elections.

My next and last point is on the question of constitutional comparisons. I will refer to a number of Bills on which, on previous occasions, we have had a similar sort of procedure. The Northern Ireland legislation to which you referred yesterday, Mr Speaker, in response to a point of order was something of a particular case, but it was not the same type of legislation that we are dealing with here. There was the War Crimes Act 1991. There was the Parliament Act itself and a series of other Bills. There was the Hunting Act 2004, which I do not think really falls into this category, because it was a different sort of Bill.

When we are making judgments about constitutional matters, the question is one of apples and pears. It is the question of whether there is a distinct constitutional difference. The point that I am making, in general terms, is that there is a very specific constitutional difference between this Bill and the other Bills to which the shortened, accelerated procedure has been applied. These matters were considered by the House of Lords Constitution Committee, which was deeply critical of the speed with which certain Bills relating to Northern Ireland were dealt with.

The essence of the problem is that the present situation contradicts the precedents, because this Bill is so shambolic and so badly drafted. Moreover, I think I heard my right hon. Friend the Member for West Dorset suggest that the amendments would be dealt with in the undemocratic House of Lords. For heaven’s sake! The House of Lords is a body that, in matters of this kind, does not really have the status that the House of Commons has. I put it no higher than that.