Duties in connection with Article 50 extension

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill – in the House of Commons at 8:45 pm on 3rd April 2019.

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Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Chair, European Scrutiny Committee 8:45 pm, 3rd April 2019

I certainly have. The Speaker has ruled on the matter, and I take the view that if the Speaker has ruled, even if I am unhappy with the ruling, that means that I need not go into all the details. I could spend the next 20 minutes giving all the reasons that I believe that there should be a money resolution, but I will resist the temptation because I want to get on to the meat of the Bill. The fact that it is known that it could cost as much as £90 billion is, I should have thought, enough to alert a great many people and make them seriously worried about whether they should vote for it, and I hope that they will not.

Clause 1(1) is mandatory, and gives rise to the important constitutional question whether Parliament can direct a Prime Minister to move a motion. That is constitutionally ridiculous. In clause 1(2), to which my new clause 4 refers, the “form of the motion” is not mandatory, stating that the House

“agrees for the purposes of section 2 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019 to the Prime Minister seeking an extension”.

If passed, the provision would permit the Prime Minister to seek an extension, but that in itself would not force her to ask for it. However, neither clause 1(4) nor clause 1(5) sets any time limit relating to when the Prime Minister must seek the extension, or explains how that would be achieved. Is enough time available for all this to be done? The answer is clearly no.

I assume that Royal Assent would be given after the Bill had been to the House of Lords. God knows what the House of Lords is going to make of it. The House of Lords has a Standing Order, Standing Order No. 72. What have the Government done, no doubt with the connivance—if that is not an inappropriate expression—of my right hon. Friend Sir Oliver Letwin? They have simply knocked out Standing Order No. 72, which is an outrageous and completely unconstitutional act.