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European Union (Withdrawal) Bill: (Programme) (No. 2)

Volume 634: debated on Tuesday 16 January 2018

Motion made, and Question proposed,

That the Order of 11 September 2017 (European Union (Withdrawal) Bill (Programme)) be varied as follows:

1. Paragraphs 5 to 7 of the Order shall be omitted.

2. Proceedings on Consideration and up to and including Third Reading shall be taken in two days in accordance with the following provisions of this Order.

3. Proceedings on Consideration shall be taken in the order shown in the first column of the following Table and (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at the times specified in the second column of the Table.



Time for conclusion of proceedings

Amendments to Clauses 1 to 5; amendments to Schedule 1; amendments to Clause 6; new Clauses and new Schedules relating to any of Clauses 1 to 6 or Schedule 1

4.00pm on the first day.

Amendments to Clause 10; amendments to Schedule 2; amendments to Clause 11; amendments to Schedule 3; new Clauses and new Schedules relating to Clause 10 or 11 or Schedule 2 or 3

7.00pm on the first day.

Remaining proceedings on Consideration

4.30pm on the second day.

4. Any proceedings in legislative grand committee shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at 4.30pm on the second day.

5. Proceedings on Third Reading shall (so far as not previously concluded) be brought to a conclusion at 7.00pm on the second day.—(Mr Baker.)

I just want to ensure that we do not simply pass the motion—I know it is a narrow procedural point—about the amount of time that the House will dedicate to debating the myriad issues covered in the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. The Committee stage was limited to only eight days. Noble Lords in the other place will have noted that on many occasions lots of amendments that had been tabled could not be fully debated. The view of the House could not be taken on some of them. We are not talking about frivolous amendments. The Government were defeated on some amendments, and they may well be defeated again—who knows?—on another occasion.

There are concerns that there may not be sufficient time on Report to air many very important issues. The usual channels will have talked about the nature of the programme motion. I see that today very much focuses on the questions that are of concern to the Government, where they want to make a concession, or focus on particular areas, but many Members feel that there are other important questions. Those questions include the customs union and the single market, whether we can reach a full trade deal in time, before falling over the cliff in March 2019, and whether there are choices and options available for the British people, other than the very narrow red lines set out by the Government in their policy. I am worried that the programme motion means we will only have a certain amount of time tomorrow—up to 4.30 pm—for the debate on a very wide range of questions.

I do not want to delay the proceedings because that would obviously go against the point I am making, but this needs to be put on the record so that those in the other place can see that there are concerns in this House of Commons about our not having had sufficient time to debate and fully to consider the full range of issues. I hope that the other place will be able to do justice to the Bill and to such other questions.

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, and I shall do my best in the Chair to facilitate full debate and such votes as there is an appetite to have.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I voted against the timetable motion, and I support what the hon. Member for Nottingham East (Mr Leslie) has said. Tomorrow is particularly crowded: it is probably the worst day we have had so far, with very limited time for debate on a large number of amendments, and of course Third Reading to follow. Will you confirm that it is still possible—we are not bound by a timetable motion throughout—for the Government, before tomorrow, to produce a motion at least to extend the time for debate so that we are able to give the Bill adequate scrutiny? I do not know of any particular reason why the Government wish to finish the whole of the debate at the precise time at which we will do so if we continue as we are at the moment.

The short answer to the right hon. and learned Gentleman is that it is perfectly open to the Government to table such a motion and to do so today. Indeed, if it was to be tabled, it would have to be tabled today. If that happens, the right hon. and learned Gentleman will be pleased; if it does not, he will not be. I can only reiterate that, within the constraints within which we have to operate, my objective is to ensure maximum debate, the greatest possible participation by Back Benchers and plentiful opportunities for Members who want to test their propositions in Divisions of the House to have the chance to do so.

Question put and agreed to.