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European Union (Withdrawal) Bill - Report (6th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:30 pm on 8th May 2018.

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Photo of Lord Grocott Lord Grocott Labour 4:30 pm, 8th May 2018

We have had this argument on many occasions. Parliament can do what it wants to do. I repeat that to the noble Lord, but I am sure he understands it. If Parliament thinks that the proposal which is coming before it is so obnoxious, it can throw it out—it can throw the Government out. It has done that during my parliamentary career and that of many other noble Lords. The idea that Parliament is a pathetic institution that needs protecting from the Government of the day is a fundamental misunder- standing of what is meant by parliamentary democracy.

The House can, of course, pass this amendment if that is the wish of the majority, which I suspect it will be. That will make 12 things for the House of Commons to think again about. However, we have to remember that the Bill has to get on the statute book, and in good time. I do not think there is a lawyer here who denies that for a moment. We keep hearing about cliff edges, so far as the economy is concerned. I do not agree with that, but the words “cliff edge” have gained currency. There is no doubt whatever that, if this Bill does not hit the statute book in good time, there will be an undoubted cliff edge for the legal structure and operation of this country, for the meaning of legislation and where European legislation fits into it.

I therefore hope that we will acknowledge that we have certainly done our duty of making the Commons think again—I ask your Lordships not to represent me as saying that we must not make amendments to the Bill; at no stage have I said that and of course I have not, as I have been here for far too long to make that kind of suggestion. However, this is an important Bill which needs to be passed—