European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:55 pm on 4th April 2019.

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Photo of Lord Hannay of Chiswick Lord Hannay of Chiswick Crossbench 7:55 pm, 4th April 2019

My noble friend Lady Deech did not move an amendment; nor did the noble Lord, Lord Howell. I am talking about noble Lords who moved amendments. That is what I said, and I think it is rather shameful that none of them, apart from the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, is here.

I will support the Bill. I think that it is both necessary and urgent. I think the reasons for it are the need to send, ahead of the meeting next Wednesday in Brussels, a very clear message to our 27 European Union partners—and they are still our partners. When this Bill becomes an Act, it will send a useful message to them ahead of that meeting. It would have been much better if we could have passed it through all its stages today, but I do not believe that Monday is too late to pass a useful message, and I hope that we will do that in due course.

What is the message that we are passing? First, as other noble Lords who have spoken have said, it is that this House does not share, the other place does not share and the whole British Parliament does not share the view that no deal is better than a bad deal. That appalling mantra, which dominated the negotiations for so many months, even years, is, I think, being laid to rest by this indication—and about time too is all I would say.

The second message we are sending is that both Houses of this Parliament need more time and space to work on a new course for our relationship with the EU in future, whatever that might be. That is a useful message to send. I do not think that we ought to be too specific about how long it will take. It may be that some rather flexible formula can be found in Brussels next Wednesday to cover that, but the idea—