Amendment 1

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill - Report – in the House of Lords at 1:06 pm on 6th September 2019.

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Photo of Lord Forsyth of Drumlean Lord Forsyth of Drumlean Chair, Economic Affairs Committee, Chair, Finance Bill Sub-Committee 1:06 pm, 6th September 2019

I mean that seriously. However, it may be of assistance to your Lordships if I explain why I have tabled this amendment. It arises from an exchange we had in Committee when my noble and learned friend Lord Mackay of Clashfern queried why the letter the Prime Minister is required to send under the Schedule to this Bill did not include a reason. We had an exchange about how, if you had to have a reason, surely that would be a condition. He said that the reason is in the Bill.

The reason is indeed in the Bill; it is the bit I want to take out—page 2, line 14, from “2020” to the end of line 20. I am not sure how many of your Lordships have studied this and thought about its implications. It is written in language which makes it less easy to understand, but it is essentially saying that the letter has to be sent,

“in order to debate and pass a Bill to implement the agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, including provisions reflecting the outcome of inter-party talks as announced by the Prime Minister on 21 May 2019, and in particular the need for the United Kingdom to secure changes to the political declaration to reflect the outcome of those inter-party talks”.

It means we are asking the Prime Minister to send a letter saying not only that he wants to debate the May deal and the subsequent matters that were agreed between the parties but that he intends to pass a Bill, when he has made it absolutely clear that he is determined not to do that. More particularly, for those Members who have argued about the supremacy of the House of Commons, it is a deal which has been rejected by the House of Commons on three separate occasions.

Here we have a piece of legislation which, by agreement between the Front Benches, is being given safe passage—I certainly do not support the Bill but I do not wish to delay it, if that is what the Government want—but what on earth is going on with the Government? Why have they not tabled an amendment to take this out? It does not reflect their declared policy, nor the view that the House of Commons has taken on three separate occasions.

I therefore went to have a look at the Hansard of the House of Commons to find out how this had got into the Bill. It has done so by accident. The Labour Party’s position in the other place was to abstain on this matter. Its author—showing that some families stick together—was a certain Stephen Kinnock.