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 Howard of Lympne Lord Howard of Lympne Conservative 4:00 pm, 8th April 2019

My Lords, I have listened with care to the speeches of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, and the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, and the intervention from my noble friend Lord Hailsham. I do not have my noble friend Lord Forsyth’s advantage because I have the misfortune of having trained and practised as a lawyer, so I am in that difficult circumstance. I am confused by the exchanges that have taken place. I draw only one inference from them: this appalling piece of legislation is totally misconceived. It seeks on the one hand indubitably to constrain the exercise of the royal prerogative by the Prime Minister. That is its main purpose. Now we have amendment after amendment that seek to persuade us that it is only in some circumstances that the royal prerogative should be constrained and that in others it is absolutely necessary because, as the noble Lord just said, the Prime Minister must be able to make use of the royal prerogative when she is involved in negotiations of this kind. It is negotiations of this kind that the Bill is all about.

The fact is that the Prime Minister will be involved in negotiations about the date on which we exit the European Union, the conditions in which we do so and any terms that might be sought by the European Council to limit the extent to which we might be able to act in accordance with the result of the referendum. The Prime Minister will be engaged in negotiations of that kind. She ought to be able to able to exercise the royal prerogative when she engages in those negotiations, as the noble Lord said a moment ago. This ludicrous Bill, which seeks in part to restrain the royal prerogative and then to subtract from the extent to which it constrains it, is wholly misconceived and should never reach the statute book.