Duties in connection with Article 50 extension

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:00 pm on 3rd April 2019.

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Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Chair, European Scrutiny Committee 9:00 pm, 3rd April 2019

With respect to you, Dame Eleanor, the Bill’s stages have been truncated. You know what I am talking about. It has been rushed through. Not only is the Bill an abomination in its own right, but it is gravely unconstitutional and offends Standing Order No. 14 and so many other conventions, so I am not going to fail make the points that need to be made. I am so sorry, but I these points must be made. It is only 9.8 pm and we have until 10 o’clock, so although I have great respect for you, Dame Eleanor, I am going to make my points. Furthermore, they are matters that are germane to trying to sort out the rubbish that this Bill is generating for the British public. That is my point.

New clause 5 relates to the amendability of motions. Any motion brought forward under clause 1(1) in the form set out in clause 1(2) may be amended in line with clause 1(3) only to include a date no later than 22 May 2019. The new clause would prevent further amendments to the Standing Orders or to the business of the House of Commons and would impose a maximum duration on the extension period. Given what I said earlier to my hon. Friend George Eustice about how this Bill would otherwise cost £90 billion, I think we would be doing a great service not just to the House, which is pretty chaotic these days, but to the taxpayer and our constituents by restricting the length of the extension period. If the extension went to five years, according to the potentiality of this Bill, it would cost £90 billion—that is just a statement of fact—which is a very good reason for voting against the Bill.

New clause 5 would place a maximum duration on the extension period, which would be an enormous step in the right direction. In fact, it would be a fundamentally vital provision in the context of this Bill.

New clause 7 deals with the question of European elections, another hot potato:

“No extension of the period under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union may be agreed by the Prime Minister if as a result the United Kingdom would be required to prepare for or to hold elections to the European Parliament.”

I would have thought that many Members would be delighted to support this new clause. I am doing the Government’s job for them by seeking to impose a restriction. I see the Minister slightly nodding his head, which I think means he might quite like this amendment. The bottom line is that, yesterday, I heard the Prime Minister say that we would not want to have European elections.