We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
My Lords, I am sorry that my voice is not as I would like it to be today. My intention is simply to talk about the law as it is just now. My understanding is that unless we have a deal approved before
“The Prime Minister must seek to obtain from the European Council an extension of the period under Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union ending at 11.00pm on
Why? What is this wanted for? It is,
“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”.
That is the purpose for which the extension is being sought. Is there any truth in that as a purpose? I think not. I see no likelihood that the Parliament of the United Kingdom is going to debate and pass a Bill to implement Mrs May’s agreement. Therefore, what the Prime Minister is being asked to do is to send a letter for a purpose which we all know is incorrect. I must say that I am finding it very difficult to understand how we can do that.
This point was fully discussed in this House during the proceedings on the Benn Bill. I did not know anything about the history of this provision and I was amazed, when I read the text of the Bill at Second Reading, that this was in it. The noble Lord, Lord Rooker, will remember that; others beside him had the same feeling. I was astonished. Then, on the Friday morning, my noble friend Lord Forsyth of Drumlean sought to get rid of that provision, but by a very large majority this House kept it in. That is the position and I would certainly like to know what we can do in the light of it, because otherwise, the law is in our statute book.
I should like to mention briefly one other point. In the decision of the Supreme Court, the important point was that Parliament has the responsibility, duty and power to call the Executive to account. You cannot easily call yourself to account and therefore, that makes a very important constitutional distinction between the area of operation of Ministers of the Crown and Parliament. That is an important observation in relation to certain of the proceedings which have taken place up until now.