United Kingdom Internal Market Bill - Committee (5th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 10:00 pm on 9th November 2020.

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Photo of Lord Falconer of Thoroton Lord Falconer of Thoroton Shadow Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow Attorney General 10:00 pm, 9th November 2020

Anybody who says there is no debate in this place because we are complying with the coronavirus rules is very misguided and rather cross.

The third line of defence comes from the noble Baronesses, Lady Neville-Rolfe and Lady Noakes. They say, “This is just a sensible protective measure. Suppose there was to be a breach subsequently: here we are—it is in place”. I have no sympathy with that view at all, for two reasons. First, there is not a sliver of evidence that the European Union is not acting in good faith. One would have expected it to have been produced by the Government if that was the case. Secondly, the points that both noble Baronesses relied on are not covered by the terms of the internal market Bill. The at-risk provisions, for example, are not available to the Government to correct by the terms of the internal market Bill. There was a reference to the fact that they might be covered subsequently by the Finance Bill but, as the noble Baronesses know, there is to be no Finance Bill this year. Their defence has no foundation in fact.

I really hope the Government see sense quickly. This part of the Bill is the most massive own goal, but it is much more than simply the operational aspects. At its heart, this Bill breaks faith with one of the most fundamental parts of our constitution: the rule of law. It is not just the appalling position it leaves us in in the world; it is what it says about us, the United Kingdom. I proudly defend and believe in the values of my country. The rule of law protects each one of us, rich or poor, strong or weak, from all forms of oppression. We should not be, to use the words of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, “complicit or supine” in this toxic, casual, un-thought out, arrogant abandonment of our values. We should vote against every one of those vile clauses in Part 5 tonight and, if necessary, again and again, to persuade the Government that this should never become part of our law.