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European Union (Withdrawal) Bill - Committee (7th Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:45 pm on 14th March 2018.

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Photo of Lord Lisvane Lord Lisvane Crossbench 3:45 pm, 14th March 2018

My Lords, together with my noble and learned friend Lord Judge, and the noble Lords, Lord Tyler and Lord Adonis, I tabled notice of intention to oppose Clause 9 standing part of the Bill, in order to ensure a debate on the purport of the clause, not least on the generality of it—and not least because of the extended delegated powers that it contains. It has been a delight that that notion has been part of a debate with such outstanding speeches, including those of the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, the noble Lords, Lord Cormack and Lord Reid, and pre-eminently that of the noble Lord, Lord Patten of Barnes. I suggest that his speech should be written in letters of gold and set as a compulsory constitutional text—and after his speech a few moments ago, I would add the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, to that roll of honour.

I was also musing on the effect of the words helpfully inserted in Clause 9(1) by Mr Dominic Grieve’s Amendment 7 in the Commons. If there were no deal, I wondered, would the requirement that the final terms of withdrawal should be approved by statute actually bite? But on reflection, I concluded that even if, at the end of the negotiation, there were nothing but scorched earth, there would have to be some sort of withdrawal agreement, and that in turn would make the proviso effective. In political terms it might, of course, be even more effective if no deal at all cast a different light on the fundamental question of withdrawal.

The area of great concern in Clause 9 is, of course, the powers proposed to be conferred by subsection (2). As I have Amendment 154 to that subsection, and as my noble and learned friend Lord Judge has asked me to move Amendment 153 in his unavoidable absence, I shall reserve any further remarks until we reach that group.