Amendment 5

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill - Committee – in the House of Lords at 4:15 pm on 8th April 2019.

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Photo of Lord Trevethin and Oaksey Lord Trevethin and Oaksey Crossbench 4:15 pm, 8th April 2019

My Lords, I am yet another lawyer. I apologise for that. I will not detain the House for long.

I respectfully agree with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, that this came to the House as a bad Bill—I would say a very bad Bill. It sought to send the Prime Minister into the conference chamber not naked but wearing a straitjacket, and that was clearly inappropriate given the very delicate negotiations that are going to have to take place this week. As it stood, it was not proper legislation but, in the words of Nye Bevan, “an emotional spasm”.

I fully support the amendments proposed by the noble and noble and learned Lords. They are obviously necessary, bizarrely, to prevent the Bill having the inadvertent effect of increasing the risk of an accidental no-deal exit, so I fully support them. However, I am concerned that, if these amendments pass, the Bill will appear to be, and be, a bit of a mess. The Prime Minister has already, as I recall, made one request for an extension, which is outstanding; I doubt whether it will be accepted. After the Motion is passed in the House of Commons, a further date will be introduced and she will have to write another letter, I think, to the EU specifying another date. That will presumably displace application number one for an extension.

The amendments, which I support, would make it open to her to make a further, third, application for an extension, specifying a further date. That will displace, as I see it, the second application made pursuant to the Motion in the House of Commons. What is left of the Bill, as I see it, is nothing more than this: an edict from Parliament that the extension that the Prime Minister is able to seek cannot end earlier than 22 May 2019. If it had been restricted to that, we would have saved a lot of time.