Amendment to the Motion (2E)

Business of the House - Motion on Standing Orders – in the House of Lords at 11:00 pm on 4th September 2019.

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Baroness Noakes:

Moved by Baroness Noakes

After first “Commons” to insert “, and only once current legal proceedings relating to prorogations in the Scottish courts have been concluded”.

Photo of Baroness Noakes Baroness Noakes Conservative

My Lords, Amendment 2E in the name of my noble friend Lord True was going to be moved by my noble friend Lord Forsyth. However, as our business has not progressed as quickly as we expected, he is on his way to catch the sleeper train to Scotland. I can tell that the House is disappointed that he is not taking part in dealing with this amendment.

I am pursuing what my noble friend Lord True started with the previous amendment: trying to find out how those who have tabled this Motion see the interaction between it and the proceedings taking place in the various courts mentioned. My noble friend Lord True dealt with the English court action. Amendment 2E deals with the proceedings relating to Prorogation in the Scottish courts.

The temporary interdict, as I think it is called in Scotland—those of us who learned our law elsewhere call it an injunction—was not granted. We had Lord Doherty’s judgment today. He said:

“This is political territory and decision making which cannot be measured against legal standards”.

He also said that accountability should rest with,

“parliament, and ultimately the electorate”.

From the point of view of those initial proceedings—this was in response to those taken by a number of MPs and noble Lords—that seems to be settled. However, as I understand it, there is a possibility of that decision being appealed.

Putting it more directly to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith—who I believe is answering on the Front Bench at the moment—since the original action has now been settled against those seeking an interdict, if the decision is appealed and it is determined that Prorogation should not take place, does that affect how the Motion is put together? Given that many noble Lords said earlier today that they believed they were forced into this action because of the nature of Prorogation, it seems to me that the need for this Motion falls away if Prorogation falls away.

These amendments have been drafted to establish the interconnection between the Motion and whether Prorogation is allowed to remain in place or is defeated by the various legal actions. I am trying to find out Her Majesty’s Opposition’s position on this from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith. I beg to move.

Photo of Lord Goldsmith Lord Goldsmith Labour

My Lords, it is hard to resist an invitation put by the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, but the position is quite straightforward: legislation is one thing, litigation is another. At the moment, Prorogation is going to take place; no court has said that it will not. In those circumstances we are faced with the ultimate guillotine, if your Lordships like, of seeing the business in this House stopped. That is why we want to agree the Motion moved by my noble friend Lady Smith of Basildon: to make sure this House has a full opportunity to deal with the Bill, which has now arrived from the other place. It arrived during the debate and we will, we hope, be taking it. As it stands at the moment, as I said, Prorogation will take place.

Photo of Lord Strathclyde Lord Strathclyde Conservative

The noble and learned Lord helpfully mentioned the Bill that has just arrived from the House of Commons. Can he or a member of the Front Bench tell us when it will be published in the form in which it was passed by the House of Commons, so that we will be able to look at it, table amendments to it and see whether indeed any amendments were made to it in the House of Commons?

While I am on my feet, I will share an interesting thing that has happened. The noble Lord, Lord Foulkes of Cumnock, who adorns the Back Benches on the other side, used to be my Member of Parliament. I remark that this is the first time I can ever remember that the noble Lord has not spoken on a matter to do with Scotland. I hope this is the shape of things to come.

Photo of Lord Hamilton of Epsom Lord Hamilton of Epsom Conservative

It is a very strange phenomenon that the noble Lord, Lord Foulkes, has not said anything. It suggests that perhaps he has been muzzled by his Front Bench who have leaned on him in such a way that he feels he cannot contribute, which is very unusual because we enjoy his contributions.

Photo of Lord Cashman Lord Cashman Labour

My Lords, I feel I need to rise and speak to this. Sometimes our personal lives intervene in ways that we never imagined they would and this can affect our ways and means of communicating with others, even in your Lordships’ House.

Photo of Baroness Fookes Baroness Fookes Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

Am I to assume that the noble Baroness is pressing the amendment or seeking to withdraw?

Photo of Baroness Noakes Baroness Noakes Conservative

I wish to test the opinion of the House.

Ayes 74, Noes 258.

Division number 12 Business of the House - Motion on Standing Orders — Amendment to the Motion (2E)

Aye: 72 Members of the House of Lords

No: 256 Members of the House of Lords

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Nos: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Baroness Noakes’s amendment to the Motion (2E) disagreed.