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Amendment to the Motion

Part of European Union: Negotiations (European Union Committee Report) - Motion to Agree – in the House of Lords at 7:43 pm on 16th March 2020.

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Photo of The Earl of Kinnoull The Earl of Kinnoull Chair, European Union Committee, Principal Deputy Chairman of Committees, Chair, European Union Committee 7:43 pm, 16th March 2020

My Lords, very briefly, I thank the staff of the committee. As I tried to explain in an obviously unsatisfactory answer to the noble Lord, Lord Hamilton, this was done in a tremendous rush, with lots of late-night oil being burned, because we got the Command Paper on 27 February and the staff and the whole committee had agreed to our report by 3 March. I hope the House feels that we performed our duty in trying to do that.

Secondly, I thank everyone who has spoken in our four and a half hours of debate, which I found fascinating. New points and new thoughts have been put to me—I live in this world 24/7 and enjoy everything—and it has been rich in content.

One gypsy’s warning was given. About half the membership mentioned Northern Ireland and I hope the Minister will reread the excellent speech of the noble Lord, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, which summarised the issues and got to the nub of them. I should say, as a minor piece of advertising, that we worked together in Northern Ireland and have taken evidence both there and here. Our next work will focus in that direction, and I hope we will have the opportunity to consider what we have found out today on the Floor of the House. This is definitely something that needs attention. It is not an unwinnable position at all, but it needs attention; it is a gypsy’s warning.

I will comment finally on whether our report answers our own question on divergence. I am afraid it does not. There are two elements that one is asking for with divergence: an explanation as to what has diverged, and the justification for why it is right to diverge. In our report, through burning the midnight oil, we have been able to do a reasonable job of explaining what has diverged. We will ask Europeans why they are diverging—I tried to point out that there were divergences on both sides. As scrutineers, we will also need to ask the Government to explain and justify why the divergence is taking place, assuming that there will be future divergence. I am afraid that our question on that is still live. I hope that, when the Government respond to our report, we will get some clues.