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Early Parliamentary General Election Bill - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:50 pm on 30th October 2019.

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Photo of The Earl of Kinnoull The Earl of Kinnoull Chair, European Union Committee, Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees 4:50 pm, 30th October 2019

My Lords, it is a pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Tyler, who spoke with his usual energy—and colour; I say that while noting his tie. I will make only one substantive point, and that is about the speed of reappointment of all committees following the election. The European Union Committee is now scrutinising the withdrawal agreement, the political declaration and the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill. Indeed, we have had two recent evidence sessions on those, and we are expecting to produce two outputs to inform the debate on the Bill, assuming that that will take place after the election.

The first output, the report on the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration, is an update on our report of December last year, which was 60 pages long—and it is, I think, full of interesting stuff that the House would want to have. The second output I expect to be a letter that I shall write to the Leader of the House tomorrow about aspects of the withdrawal Bill concerning scrutiny.

Many other committees of the House are working hard on Brexit-related matters. I note that the Constitution Committee and the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee are working particularly hard. All this work will pause on Dissolution. In 2010, after the election, it took seven weeks to reappoint the European Union Committee, and that was four weeks after the Queen’s Speech. In 2015 it took only five weeks to reappoint that committee. In 2017, admittedly, it took 19 days—but time is exceptionally short here, with the Christmas period and the necessity of including the processes for ratification in the European Parliament.

The issue of the speed of the reappointment of committees is common to all committees of this House. In the light of that, may I ask the Minister what comfort, speaking both as a Minister and as the Deputy Leader of the House, he can provide that there will be an expedited reappointment of all committees after the election, so that we can resume our work as soon as possible and continue apace?