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Bill Presented

Volume 657: debated on Tuesday 2 April 2019

European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Yvette Cooper, supported by Sir Oliver Letwin, Hilary Benn, Dame Caroline Spelman, Jack Dromey, Alison McGovern, Mr Dominic Grieve, Clive Efford, Stephen Doughty, Norman Lamb, Ben Lake and Stewart Hosie, presented a Bill to make provision in connection with the period for negotiations for withdrawing from the European Union.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow; and to be printed (Bill 371).

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek your guidance on something that I raised yesterday in relation to the business motion and my very grave concern, I think shared by many people throughout the country—let alone in the House—about the idea of a Bill that is of such importance as this effectively being rammed through in one day. It is a Bill

“to make provision in connection with the period for negotiations for withdrawing from the European Union.”

In short, this is a reprehensible procedure in the context of the vitally important issue of our leaving the European Union. It is unconstitutional, and it is inconceivable that we should be presented with a Bill that could be rammed through in one day. In making this point of order, I want to ask you whether you have observations on the point that I just made.

My observation is threefold. First, that the hon. Gentleman is of this view was made very clear to me by his oration yesterday. Indeed, I say in no spirit of discourtesy to him that I rather imagine that anybody within a 50-mile radius of this place would be aware of his views on this important matter, given the force and frequency with which he has expressed them. Secondly, the House voted yesterday to give precedence tomorrow to a business of the House motion, which has not yet been tabled, so we await that. Thirdly, although this is of course an unusual state of affairs, it is not unknown for a Bill to be pushed through the House in one day. For a Bill brought forward by a Back-Bench Member, it is very unusual, but it is consequent upon a decision of the House. Bills being brought forward and taken through their various stages in one day in Government time are not particularly unusual at all. For example, Northern Ireland legislation has often been taken through the House on that basis. I know that the hon. Gentleman would not object to that in the way that he objects to this, but I do not think it is as unprecedented as he supposes. It is unusual and it is a bit different from those other examples, and it grates immensely with the hon. Gentleman, but that does not of itself render it disorderly. Upsetting the hon. Gentleman is displeasing but not disorderly. I think we will have to leave it there.