Amendment 6

Part of Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill - Committee – in the House of Lords at 3:45 pm on 15th July 2019.

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Photo of Lord True Lord True Chair, Intergenerational Fairness and Provision Committee 3:45 pm, 15th July 2019

My Lords, I construe the statute law that lies before us and have expounded it to the Committee just now.

Amendment 7 is a final clutching at straws by hard-line remainers to obstruct, delay and prevent this country doing on 31 October what its people have asked. I submit that this House should have none of it.

On Prorogation, which Sir Oliver Letwin—and, it now seems, others—want to prevent, we have already endured in this pestilential, shameful Session, which has so damaged the image of Parliament and trust in politics, the longest parliamentary Session since the 1640s. What judge will now dictate when or why a Prime Minister may be permitted to advise Her Majesty to bring this wearisome Session to an end? I looked at the record. Until the change of the parliamentary year in 2010, and leaving out election years, Parliament was prorogued in October or November in 24 out of 24 years since 1979. There is nothing unusual about an autumn Prorogation; what is unusual is not having an autumn Prorogation. The prerogative power to end the Session was left untouched by the Prorogation Act 1867 and the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011. Parliament could have limited or removed the power; it did not do so. It did not do so, because, until this desperate ploy by hard-line remainers, an October Prorogation was a normal part of parliamentary life. Allowing a new Government to have a new Session with a new gracious Speech and new legislation necessary for the times was a normal and healthy part of parliamentary life. Everyone, wherever they stand on Brexit, is surely agreed that, when it comes, there will have to be new legislation and time to consider it, which means a full and fresh parliamentary Session.

It would be a serious mistake for your Lordships’ House to be a party to continuing games in the House of Commons. Seven days’ notice to Mishcon de Reya before any advice is tendered to the sovereign so that lawyers may wrangle over it is not a wise form of government to implement in the 21st century; nor is trying to prevent the calling of a new parliamentary Session. I submit that this farrago should not be tacked on to a Northern Ireland Bill. The other place rejected it and this House should reject it, too.