Amendment 5

Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill - Report – in the House of Lords at 2:30 pm on 9 February 2022.

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Lord Butler of Brockwell:

Moved by Lord Butler of Brockwell

5: Clause 3, leave out Clause 3

Photo of Lord Butler of Brockwell Lord Butler of Brockwell Crossbench

My Lords, I too am very grateful to those who have taken part in this debate.

This for me is a matter of principle. It is wrong, as the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, the noble and right reverend Lord and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, said, that there can be no protection from the courts against the improper use of executive power. My hackles rise when I hear the Minister use the phrase “The courts are not permitted”—“This legislation is to ensure that the courts are not permitted to look at this matter”. In response to the noble Lord, Lord Grocott, this is not an issue of the courts preventing the people having a say in an election. It is about the courts preventing the illegitimate or illegal use of executive power. That is what the issue is.

I believe it is vanishingly unlikely that the courts would become involved in this matter—I am now just answering the point made by the noble Lord, Lord True. I would be prepared to have a lifelong bet with him that this situation will not arise in his or my lifetime. However, the courts can look after themselves. They do not need the protection of legislation in this matter; it is indeed for the courts to decide the merits of issues and not for the Government to legislate in advance to prevent them doing so.

Therefore, because this for me is a matter of principle, and because I would like, in case the amendment we previously passed is overturned by the House of Commons, the opportunity to return to this on ping-pong, I beg leave to test the opinion of the House.

Ayes 120, Noes 230.

Division number 2 Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Bill - Report — Amendment 5

Aye: 120 Members of the House of Lords

No: 230 Members of the House of Lords

Aye: A-Z by last name

No: A-Z by last name

Amendment 5 disagreed.

Clause 6: Extent, commencement and short title