Duties in connection with Article 50 extension

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill – in the House of Commons at 9:45 pm on 3rd April 2019.

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Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 9:45 pm, 3rd April 2019

I think the hon. Gentleman misunderstands the nature of the power, which is simply to reflect in the UK the agreement that would by this stage have been reached with the EU on any extension. It is not about setting a completely different date; it is about reflecting that agreement.

To come to the assurances sought by both the SNP and the Opposition Front Benchers, if a statutory instrument under the negative procedure was prayed against, we would of course facilitate an urgent debate in that context. However, we have to bear in mind the reason why we are seeking this change of moving from the affirmative to the negative procedure, which is simply to provide the speed that I think this House would want in the context of a deal having being agreed.

I do not intend to detain the Committee much longer on this issue, but it is worth bearing in mind that the current arrangements require an SI to be debated and approved in both Houses under the draft affirmative procedure, the time for which could put at risk the critical process of approval. New clause 13 therefore seeks to amend the parliamentary scrutiny procedures applying to the power in the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 that can be used to amend the definition of exit day. The scrutiny will be changed from the draft affirmative to the draft negative procedure. It is only prudent that we are able to make the SI under the negative procedure to ensure that our statute book reflects what is agreed in international law, avoiding a crash-out exit. For those reasons, I urge right hon. and hon. Members across the House to support the new clause.

However, I continue to urge Members to reject this Bill, which is not needed to avoid no deal because the Government have already undertaken to seek an extension to ensure that we avoid no deal. Like many colleagues who have spoken today, I want that extension to be a technical one to ensure that we leave with a deal. With that, I am keen to hear from the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford.