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Article 50 Extension

Volume 656: debated on Wednesday 20 March 2019

Application for emergency debate (Standing Order No. 24)

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for allowing time to hear this application for an emergency debate on the following motion: that this House has considered the matter of the length and purpose of the extension of the article 50 process requested by the Government. I note that the Standing Order No. 24 procedure requires a specific and important matter to be before the House, and I think there can be few more important than this.

Last week, the House passed a motion by a majority of 210 requiring the Government to request an extension to the article 50 process. The Prime Minister voted for that motion. The wording of the motion itself and the speeches from the Government Dispatch Box, including by the Minister for the Cabinet Office, led the House to believe that the Government would seek either a short technical extension, if the Prime Minister’s deal were passed by today, or a longer extension if that were not the case.

Parliament could not have expected the Prime Minister, instead, to pursue a course described at the Dispatch Box by the Minister for the Cabinet Office as “downright reckless”, yet today we learn that is exactly what the Prime Minister intends to do. She has now made a formal request to the President of the European Council for an extension of article 50, but she has not made a statement to this House.

Therefore, the only opportunity for Parliament to debate this issue before the Council meets tomorrow is through this Standing Order No. 24 application. It is vital that the Prime Minister and the Government are held to account on this and that we have an opportunity to scrutinise the Government’s approach, to consider the terms of the extension that is being sought and to ask whether this approach abides by the will expressed by the House last week.

I therefore ask for this emergency debate to be held at the earliest opportunity.

The right hon. and learned Gentleman asks leave to propose a debate on a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration—namely, that this House has considered the matter of the length and purpose of the extension of the article 50 process requested by the Government. I have listened carefully to his application, and I am satisfied that the matter raised is proper to be discussed under Standing Order No. 24.

Has the right hon. and learned Gentleman the leave of the House? [Interruption.] I say as much for the benefit of those observing our proceedings that there is an objection from the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr Bone). I heard it very clearly, and he probably wants everyone to know. In those circumstances, it is necessary for at least 40 right hon. and hon. Members to rise in their places to validate the application, and it is entirely obvious that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has indeed obtained the leave of the House.

Application agreed to (not fewer than 40 Members standing in support).

It is commonplace for such debates to take place the following day, but it is by no means required that they should do so. I have on a previous occasion, because of the circumstances, ruled that such a debate should take place straightaway. This is such a circumstance. The debate will be held today as the first item of public business—that is to say after the ten-minute rule motion—and it will last for up to three hours, and it will arise on a motion that the House has considered the specified matter set out in the right hon. and learned Gentleman’s application.

Bill Presented

Fracking (Measurement and Regulation of Impacts) (Air, Water and Greenhouse Gas Emissions) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Geraint Davies, supported by Jonathan Edwards, Tulip Siddiq, Neil Coyle, Caroline Lucas, Chris Evans, Dr Rupa Huq and John Mc Nally, presented a Bill to require the Secretary of State to measure and regulate the impact of unconventional gas extraction on air and water quality and on greenhouse gas emissions; and for connected purposes.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time on Friday 22 March, and to be printed (Bill 360).