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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:00 pm on 14th March 2018.

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Photo of Lord Adonis Lord Adonis Labour 4:00 pm, 14th March 2018

We need these amendments because we simply do not trust the Government to have an adequate parliamentary procedure in place unless Parliament exerts itself in advance. That is why the amendments of the noble Viscount and the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, which discuss time, are so important.

I want to highlight two issues in respect of the procedure that we need to follow when the Prime Minister submits the withdrawal treaty to Parliament. First, there must be adequate time for Parliament to debate it, because there can be no democracy unless there is time to discuss it. We should remember that Clement Attlee famously said that democracy is government by discussion, but this Government are very keen on closing down discussion. Your Lordships and the other place need to put in place arrangements to ensure that there will be adequate time. To my mind, those arrangements are crucial. At the moment in the existing Clause 9, even as amended by Dominic Grieve’s amendment in the House of Commons, there is no requirement in respect of the time that must be given to Parliament to reach these momentously important decisions. That needs to be put right.