Amendment 5

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill - Committee – in the House of Lords at 4:00 pm on 8th April 2019.

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Photo of Lord Pannick Lord Pannick Crossbench 4:00 pm, 8th April 2019

This is a negotiation. It would be very odd to say she can agree a date but she cannot seek one. There has to be give and take. I think that there is general agreement around the House that the Bill, whether noble Lords are in favour of it or not, ought not to constrain the Prime Minister’s powers when she is conducting an international negotiation.

The noble Lord, Lord Faulks, asked whether this was really necessary: unless an Act of Parliament expressly takes away the Prime Minister’s prerogative powers, surely they remain. My answer is that there is a danger that it might be said that the Bill, by necessary implication by reason of its contents, takes away the Prime Minister’s prerogative powers. I think we would all agree that the worst of all possible worlds would be if the noble Lord, Lord Faulks, on Thursday morning was to be instructed by a client to go to court to obtain a declaration that the Prime Minister has acted in breach of her powers, given the Bill’s contents.