Amendment 5

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill - Committee – in the House of Lords at 3:30 pm on 8th April 2019.

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Photo of Lord Goldsmith Lord Goldsmith Labour 3:30 pm, 8th April 2019

I will not give way because the noble Lord has not even heard what I am trying to say.

The second point is that it is very clear that we are running out of time—or running out of road, to go back to the Question in Oral Questions. If we can pass the Bill today, as I explained at the conclusion of Second Reading, it can return to the other place and be agreed and a Motion can then be passed to inform what the Prime Minister does on Wednesday.

When the Prime Minister puts forward a resolution, it may be agreed by the other place but other possibilities arise. One is that the request is put to the Council but the Council comes back with a counter proposal—a different date. I doubt from my experience of European negotiations that it will be quite as neat as that, because these things tend to happen in discussions and something will emerge. That will be important when I come to explain one issue about the Bill as it stands.

The point was also made powerfully at Second Reading that it is necessary to give the Prime Minister the flexibility to be able to agree to something put to her by the European Council if that emerges in the course of debate. Amendment 7 in the name of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, and myself is designed to deal with that possibility. There was strong support at Second Reading for being able to use the royal prerogative so that the Prime Minister would be able to make such an agreement. Amendment 7 would enable that to take place and avoid a situation where we might accidentally end up with no deal because there simply has not been time to go through all the processes.

So what does that have to do with this amendment? This amendment would remove subsections (6) and (7) of Clause 1, which would require a Motion being put to the other place in the event that the European Council comes up with a proposal. The reason for removing those subsections is twofold—for simplicity and to promote legal certainty. It promotes simplicity because it does not require there to be another stage of backwards and forwards in the very limited time before Friday. If the proposal had to go back to the other place and be agreed and then something was then put forward, we could find ourselves in a situation where we accidentally dropped out of the European Union without having reached the point that we wanted to.