I thank the noble Lord for telling me about the processes of the European Parliament, but I was a Member of it for 15 years and I am aware of the processes very well. We have, however, made clear that it is our objective to reach an agreement with the EU by October 2018. This objective is shared by the EU and is one which we consider we are on course to deliver. We expect, therefore, that the vote will take place substantially before exit day and ahead of the deadline in Amendment 196 tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Liddle, and Amendment 213 tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Adonis. To insert statutory deadlines into this process, however, would serve no purpose except to weaken our negotiating position, because while an early deal is highly desirable we must balance that with a recognition of the need to achieve the best possible deal.
The decision to hold a referendum was put to the electorate at the 2015 general election—