Amendment 2

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill - Committee – in the House of Lords at 11:00 am on 6th September 2019.

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Photo of Baroness Deech Baroness Deech Crossbench 11:00 am, 6th September 2019

My Lords, much more heavy weather has been made of this than I intended. I have a couple of opening comments: it is a pleasure to see the noble Baroness, Lady Falkner, over here, and I say to the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, that those who draft law are not thereafter charged with interpreting it. Once they have launched their draft, it is over to others to interpret it. I do not claim by any means to be a European lawyer—far from it—but my point is very simple: if an extension is granted to 30 January, the Commons gets two days to consider it. If an extension is granted to 31 January, it gets no time at all. I have still heard no reason or sense for why that should be so, and I remain convinced that this was some drafting oversight.

No one has clarified either whether the “two days” are sitting days or calendar days. What if an offer comes at the weekend, during the Christmas Recess or some time when we are not here? Since the lawyers, both the noble and learned Lords in this House and those who are clearly just as learned but are mere QCs, have different opinions about this, it is quite possible that something that is a bit tricky may come our way at a time when we are not sitting or when the Act provides no two-day pause for the Commons. So either the Commons should have two days to consider anything or it should not have two days at all. I have heard no logical answer to that.

I sense that it is the will of the House that I withdraw the amendment. However, before Report, I expect to hear some sense from someone. I do not know who gave the draftsmen their orders. I have not yet heard a sensible reason why an extension to 30 January gets two days’ consideration but an extension to 31 January does not.