Amendment 16A (to Amendment 16)

Part of Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill - Report – in the House of Lords at 9:45 pm on 17th July 2019.

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Photo of Lord Kerr of Kinlochard Lord Kerr of Kinlochard Crossbench 9:45 pm, 17th July 2019

Amendment 16 is entitled:

“Requirement for majority of MLAs to support regulations”.

I confess that I have huge admiration for Amendment 16, because I wish that I had thought of it when we were considering the question of possible prorogation and a crash-out deal with no consultation with Parliament. It is a wonderful thought that we could have written a prescription like this into the law, which would have required the Prime Minister to ring me up and ask, “What’s your view?”, and then work out whether there was a majority in both Houses for and against the crash out.

Actually, it does not make sense. Individually consulting Members of an Assembly that is not meeting does not make sense, I am afraid. It is of course open to the Secretary of State to consult whomever she wants, but to prescribe that she can proceed only if a majority consulted on the telephone or the internet agree is an absurdity.

I also remind those speaking to this amendment that the Minister made it absolutely clear that the consultations would be not about “whether” but about “how”. A number of the speeches that have taken place on Amendment 16 are more appropriate to Amendment 12 because they seem to assume that the consultations will be about “whether” and not about “how”.