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Business of the House (19 and 20 December)

Volume 669: debated on Thursday 19 December 2019

Before calling a Minister to move the next motion, which relates to the presentation of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill and the sitting of the House tomorrow, I want to make a short statement. Substantive motions may be moved without notice only with the sanction of the Chair and with the concurrence of the House. I am, exceptionally, allowing this motion to be moved only for four reasons, which are unlikely to apply to other motions without notice. First, I am satisfied that there has been proper engagement through the usual channels with other parties about the contents of this motion. Secondly, informal notice of the motion has been given by means of its inclusion in the Chamber information note. Thirdly, it offers the House a choice between a sitting tomorrow and a sitting on Monday if the motion were not agreed to. Fourthly, the motion enables the House to see the contents of the Bill to be debated earlier than would otherwise be possible.

I beg to move,


(1) notwithstanding the provisions of Standing Order No. 57 and the practice of this House, at this day’s sitting a Minister of the Crown may, without notice, present the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill; and

(2) this House shall sit on Friday 20 December 2019.

Subject to the House agreeing this motion, I shall make a Business statement this evening following the debate on the Queen’s Speech.

Welcome back, Mr Speaker. I agree with you that this is a highly unusual motion, but I am pleased that the business managers have agreed that we can sit tomorrow and that the Bill will be published. It will be scrutinised by Her Majesty’s Opposition so that we consider it in the best interests of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. On that basis, we support the motion.

Thank you very much, Mr Deputy Speaker—Mr Speaker, even! Sorry about that; old habits die hard. This is an unusual state of affairs, and you have been generous to the Government in order for this debate to go ahead tomorrow. This is what the past three years have been all about: ensuring that they get their disastrous, dismal Brexit tomorrow. Scotland opposed it in 2016 and opposed it last week, and the SNP will vote against it tomorrow.

Question put and agreed to.

Just for the record, I did negotiate to ensure that we were not coming back after Friday. I wanted the House to be in the right place, and I think that was part of my duty.

Bill Presented

European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

Presentation and First Reading (Standing Order No. 57)

Secretary Stephen Barclay, supported by the Prime Minister, Michael Gove, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Secretary Priti Patel, Secretary Robert Buckland, Secretary Elizabeth Truss, Secretary Julian Smith and the Attorney General, presented Bill to implement, and make other provision in connection with, the agreement between the United Kingdom and the EU under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union which sets out the arrangements for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU.

Bill read the First time; to be read a Second time tomorrow, and to be printed (Bill 1) with explanatory notes (Bill 1-EN).