Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:44 pm on 9th January 2020.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Steve Barclay Steve Barclay The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 4:44 pm, 9th January 2020

During the Committee stage this week and today on Third Reading we have had good debates on the withdrawal agreement Bill. This Bill will implement in UK law the withdrawal agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union, ensuring that the UK departs the EU with a deal, getting Brexit done on 31 January, as we promised the British public we would. It will once and for all deliver on the mandate given to us not once but twice: in June 2016 and again in December 2019.

I would like to thank Members across the House who have contributed to the Committee stage over the last two years—two days. [Interruption.] Sometimes days can feel like years, but the new tone of this House obviously makes time seem to pass much quicker. I also add my thanks to the Clerks and officials in the Public Bill Office, who consistently provide invaluable support to Members in the House.

We have had three excellent maiden speeches in this debate, which also saw the very welcome return of my hon. Friend Mr Evans to the Chair, continuing the Lancashire theme that we had at departmental questions. There was also the welcome election of the first female Chair of Ways and Means.

My hon. Friend Craig Williams gave an excellent maiden speech—although he does have the benefit of having done it before. He spoke with warmth and passion about his home seat. He rightly paid tribute to his much-loved predecessor, who has given 50 years so far of public service. Having worked closely with him as my special adviser in the Department, I know that he will champion Wales throughout his time in the House, and I look forward to resuming my conversations with him on agriculture, and I am sure on rugby as well.

Fleur Anderson gave a very good maiden speech, showing her passion for her constituency, and for the community groups and the community spaces with which she has worked. She referenced Clement Attlee and gave a speech that I am sure he would have been very proud to hear. She is right to highlight the value of the European Union citizens in her constituency. That is one of the safeguards that this Bill delivers, because we value their contribution not just in Putney but across the United Kingdom.

My hon. Friend David Simmonds gave a first-class maiden speech, which displayed his clear and detailed knowledge and experience of immigration issues, and indeed it was clear that he held the attention of the House. It signalled the valuable contribution that I know he will make to forthcoming debates.

We also had a number of very powerful speeches from some of the most experienced Members of the House. My right hon. Friend Sir John Hayes spoke of the importance of place and the people who have spoken within that place, and with his 30,000-plus majority they certainly have spoken very clearly on behalf of my right hon. Friend.

My right hon. Friend Mr Paterson spoke about the importance of democratic accountability and of restoring control over our fishing, an issue that he has championed throughout his time in this place. We will restore to this country the advantages of our spectacular marine wealth through this Bill.

My hon. Friend Sir William Cash spoke of this as a great moment in our democracy and it being a tribute to the British people. May I gently say to my hon Friend that it is also a tribute to him, who, despite criticism over the years, has stuck fast to his principles, and that is reflected in this Bill.