Scottish Devolution and Article 50

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:30 pm on 15th March 2017.

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Photo of Michael Ellis Michael Ellis Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Deputy Leader of the House of Commons 5:30 pm, 15th March 2017

Well, that has not quite happened yet. Nevertheless, it is a great pleasure to be here and to represent the House in this debate. I congratulate Deidre Brock on securing this debate; I am sure it is one of the many debates on this subject that will continue to take place.

As a Government, we are keen to ensure that the process of leaving the European Union receives the maximum scrutiny and parliamentary debate possible, and this discussion has been an important contribution to that dialogue. In fact, Ministers from the Department for Exiting the European Union have already responded to more than 600 parliamentary written questions, appeared at 13 Select Committee hearings and given six oral statements in eight months, and there will, of course, be many votes on primary legislation to come, as I am sure hon. Members recognise.

The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill is a straightforward Bill. It is intended to implement the outcome of the referendum. That trusts the decision of the British people, and respects the judgment of the Supreme Court. In June last year, the United Kingdom voted as a whole to leave the European Union. By invoking article 50, using the authority given by Parliament when it passed the Bill on Monday, the Prime Minister will simply be getting on with the process of taking forward that result.

When they invoke article 50, the United Kingdom Government are committed to ensuring that the interests of all parts of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are represented as we enter negotiations to leave the European Union. Since the referendum, we have ensured that the devolved Administrations are fully engaged in our preparations to leave the European Union. We established the Joint Ministerial Committee on European Negotiations, chaired by the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, which has met four times since its inception in November. The Joint Ministerial plenary, chaired by the Prime Minister personally, has also met twice—in October and January—and there has also been substantial bilateral engagement between Ministers.