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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:30 pm on 14th March 2018.

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Photo of Lord Callanan Lord Callanan Minister of State (Department for Exiting the European Union) 4:30 pm, 14th March 2018

If the noble Lord will allow me to make some progress I will come on to the issues of Clause 9 later.

The decision to hold a referendum was endorsed by Parliament, which then consented to the Government acting on the outcome of that referendum through the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act. More than 80% of voters in the 2017 election supported manifestos committed to delivering on that referendum result.

I say this only to underline to noble Lords that amendments which could be perceived as a means to delay or disregard that result carry with them their own risks to people’s faith in their democracy and its institutions. Many noble Lords, including the most respected and convinced of erstwhile supporters of the UK remaining in the EU, said at Second Reading that the Bill is not the parliamentary vehicle to seek to provide for that. The Government have received a clear instruction from the British people. On a turnout higher than at any general election since 1992, 17.4 million people voted to leave the European Union—more than the 13.7 million who voted Conservative at the 2017 general election; more than the 11.3 million who voted Conservative in 2015; more even than the 13.5 million who voted Labour at the 1997 general election, which delivered the party opposite a significant majority in the other place, of which many noble Lords were distinguished members.