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Motion made, and Question put forthwith (
That the following provisions shall apply to the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill:
(1) The Bill shall be committed to a Committee of the whole House.
Proceedings in Committee
(2) Proceedings in Committee of the whole House shall be completed in two days.
(3) The proceedings shall be taken on each of those days as shown in the first column of the following Table and in the order so shown.
(4) The proceedings shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at the times specified in the second column of the Table.
Proceedings on Consideration and up to and including Third Reading
(5) Any proceedings on Consideration, any proceedings in legislative grand committee and proceedings on Third Reading shall be taken in one day in accordance with the following provisions of this Order.
(6) Any proceedings on Consideration and any proceedings in legislative grand committee shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion six hours after the commencement of proceedings on the Bill on that day.
(7) Proceedings on Third Reading shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion eight hours after the commencement of proceedings on the Bill on that day.
Consideration of Lords Amendments
(9) Proceedings on consideration of Lords Amendments shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour after their commencement.
(10) Any further Message from the Lords may be considered forthwith without any Question being put.
(11) The proceedings on any further Message from the Lords shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion one hour after their commencement.—(Jeremy Quin.)
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. On Saturday, this House emphatically rejected the Prime Minister’s deal. [Interruption.] Conservative Members are too hasty; I have not finished yet. Tonight the House has refused to be bounced into debating a hugely significant piece of legislation in just two days, with barely any notice and no analysis of the economic impact of this Bill. The Prime Minister is the author of his own misfortune. I make this offer to him tonight: work with us—all of us—to agree a reasonable timetable, and I suspect that this House will vote to debate, scrutinise and, I hope, amend the detail of this Bill. That would be the sensible way forward, and that is the offer I make on behalf of the Opposition tonight.
Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. Let me say in response how welcome it is—even joyful—that, for the first time in this long saga, this House has accepted its responsibilities, come together and embraced a deal. I congratulate Members across the House on the scale of our collective achievement. Just a few weeks ago, hardly anybody believed that we could reopen the withdrawal agreement, let alone abolish the backstop, and certainly nobody thought that we could secure the approval of the House for a new deal. We should not overlook the significance of this moment. I pay particular tribute to those Members of the House who were sceptical and who had difficulties and doubts, but who decided to place the national interest ahead of any other consideration.
However, I must express my disappointment that the House has again voted for delay, rather than a timetable that would have guaranteed that the UK was in a position to leave the EU on
Let me be clear: our policy remains that we should not delay and that we should leave the EU on
Order. The right hon. Gentleman is entitled to raise a point of order and he is entitled to be heard. Let us hear the right hon. Gentleman, and then we will expedite progress.
The fact of the matter is that this is yet another humiliating defeat this evening for the Prime Minister, who has sought to railroad through this House legislation that requires proper scrutiny. Rightly, this House has spoken with a very clear voice to tell the Prime Minister that he is not on. Furthermore, it is absolutely crystal clear what should now happen. There is legislation passed by this House, and it is the law of the land, that on the basis of not agreeing a deal, the Prime Minister is instructed—instructed, Prime Minister —to seek an extension. Go to Brussels and do as you have been instructed, and do not put yourself offside against this Parliament.
It is crystal clear that this is a Government in whom there is no confidence, and a Government who have sought to ignore the wishes of the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish people. It is obvious to us that if we want to guarantee our rights as EU citizens, Scotland has to become an independent country. To that end, Mr Speaker, can you advise me about what we must do in this House and what options are open to us both in securing the extension and in protecting Scotland’s national interest?
I have a sense that the right hon. Gentleman’s question is largely rhetorical, and I say that in no disobliging spirit. I do not think the right hon. Gentleman needs my advice, and even if he does, he does not need it tonight, so we will leave it there for now.
May I ask the Father of the House: is it your first, sir? [Laughter.]
May I ask the Prime Minister and everybody else to reconsider the suggestion he made that we pause the progress of the Bill tomorrow? I congratulate him on winning approval for the deal he negotiated. I think I said in the House once that I would apologise to him and congratulate him if he actually got it, and he has achieved it, and the Second Reading vote was the approval of his deal. The argument is about how long the House is allowed to take over considering it. I cannot quite see the logic of pausing progress on the Bill when the whole House is expecting the next two days to be spent on it. That would enable us to see how quickly the House wishes to proceed and what sort of time is being looked for, and if people started filibustering—I hope they would not—it might enable the Government to get a majority for a timetable motion that was a modest adjustment to tonight’s. Three or four days more would do it.
I am grateful to the right hon. and learned Gentleman, the Father of the House, for his point of order. I await the development of events, but it is not unreasonable for me to say that, as of now and unless there has been any change, my understanding is that the Leader of the House intends to make a business statement—I have a draft copy—that sets out the Government’s intentions for the coming days. I say that cautiously in case the Government have changed their mind, but I do not think they have and I do not expect them to do so. We will hear from the Leader of the House ere long.
Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. Twice in the last three days, the Prime Minister has failed to force his bad Brexit deal through the House without adequate scrutiny. He continues in an irresponsible vein to talk up the prospect of no deal. Is it not time to end the brinksmanship and replace it with some statesmanship; to seriously and respectfully engage with our European friends to secure an extension to article 50 to enable the House to pass legislation for a people’s vote; or, if he prefers, to allow proper scrutiny of his Bill or to call a general election? All of those things require a decent extension to article 50: he should be a statesman and go and secure it.
I am grateful to the hon. Lady.
Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. First, on the Second Reading vote, many hon. Members—certainly in my hearing—voted for it although they were against the contents of the deal. They said that they would want to see changes to it. The House has made a wise decision to allow further time for detailed examination of some of the most important legislation that we will ever have to consider, particularly given the impact on Northern Ireland. As the Prime Minister reflects on the votes on Saturday and studies the votes tonight, I suggest that he should talk to us again about what can be done even at this late stage to ensure that we join in this great quest to get Brexit done, but as one United Kingdom.
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for his point of order.
Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. May we have a clarification from the Chair that the Second Reading was passed with a significant majority? The leaders of the Liberal Democrats and the SNP keep saying that it has not been passed. Can you clarify that Second Reading was passed with a majority?
That is undeniably true. I am not sure that my clarification was required for Members, but for the benefit of those observing our proceedings the hon. Lady makes a fair point. It is important to be clear: the Second Reading of the Bill was carried, as I announced, by 329 votes to 299. It was the programme motion that was defeated by 322 to 308. That is by way of being a public service broadcast.
Further to that point of order, Mr Speaker. I wondered if you could clarify for me how “getting Brexit done” sits with pausing Brexit. This feels like a very churlish reaction to what is a straightforward request, which is for the House to have a short amount of time. Do those two things equate in your mind?
I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her point of order. I think the fairest thing I can say to her is: it is a factual point, of which the Leader and, I am sure, the Prime Minister will be aware. As a result of the fact that the programme motion was turned down—it is very encouraging that the former Government Chief Whip, Sir Patrick McLoughlin is nodding vigorously—we could not proceed, I must advise the House, with the start of Committee consideration, for which there is currently no authority.
If I may say so, people are entitled to their own views about the attitude of one leader or another, but I certainly am not going to make any charge of churlishness at all. To be fair, the Prime Minister is, in pragmatic fashion, accepting the immediate implications of the result. It is literally a time to pause and consider how to proceed. I make no other point beyond that.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can you confirm that the Prime Minister had no alternative other than to do what he has done tonight? The previous Labour Government passed timetable motions—Bills had to have such a motion to proceed. Therefore, the action of Members tonight to vote against the timetable motion means that we cannot continue with the business, which we could do until the changes were made by the previous Labour Government.
I do not think that the right hon. Gentleman requires my endorsement. Suffice it to say that a book could be written on the subject of the genesis of programme motions and he may well be tempted to pen it, but whether it would prove to be a bestseller is another matter.
If the right hon. and learned Gentleman will forgive me, I will come first to Liz Saville Roberts, whom I have kept waiting.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. Can you explain to me and to people outside, now that the Government have chosen to pause legislation and, by doing that, to extend the Brexit process—[Interruption.]
Order. I accept that feelings are running high, but the right hon. Lady must be heard.
The Government and people outside will appreciate that there is now more opportunity to release the economic impact assessments that we should all have sight of before we make such material decisions.
The right hon. Lady makes her own point in her own way. It requires no comment from me, but I thank her for saying what she said.
I would not be inclined to accept that without notice. What I would say to the right hon. and learned Gentleman is that it would be potentially orderly, but I have to, if he will forgive me for saying so, read the runes. I have no sense, notwithstanding the argument he has advanced, that that is the wish of the Government. The fact that the Prime Minister has just exited the Chamber seems to me rather to reinforce that view. I make no criticism at all. I am simply saying that he has left the Chamber. I do not think he has any appetite for the preference of the right hon. and learned Gentleman, which I hope he can bear stoically and with fortitude. If the Leader wanted to do that, he would have said so and he has not, so he does not.
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Leader of the Opposition offered the Conservative party a proper discussion on a different programme motion, which would have given us more time for the release of impact assessments and so on, and more time to discuss a very complex and important Bill. That has not been addressed. It is correct that we cannot proceed tonight, but if an agreement was reached between Front Benchers we could surely re-establish a timetable and scrutinise the Bill properly—if we did not have a Prime Minister who was behaving like a two year old and playing silly games?
I note what the hon. Lady says. The position is, as I have explained. As colleagues will understand, senior figures in this place anticipate different scenarios and it is not uncommon for them to communicate those to the Chair. The Leader of the House did me the courtesy of informing me in advance of what the Government’s attitude would be in the event of a particular result. He has not departed from that view, so I am telling the House what the Government’s current intention is, about which colleagues will hear more in the business statement. That is very much a matter for the Government, and I am not trying to choke off what the hon. Lady wants; I am simply telling her that we are where we are, as things stand.
Colleagues, the orderly thing to do at this point is simply to proceed with what would be the choreography—I think I have a sense of how it is going to proceed—with, in the first instance, the money resolution, to be moved formally.
The Ways and Means resolution—to be moved formally.