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Business of the House

Volume 778: debated on Monday 30 January 2017


My Lords, this may be a convenient point for me to inform the House about the proposed timetable for our consideration of the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill, which was introduced in the other place on Thursday last week. To save noble Lords scrabbling for their pens and paper at this point, a copy of this statement is now available in the Printed Paper Office.

On the assumption that the Bill arrives from the Commons on either Wednesday 8 February or Thursday 9 February, we will hold a Second Reading debate over two days on Monday 20 February and Tuesday 21 February. We will take Committee stage over two days the following week: Monday 27 February and Wednesday 1 March. The Bill will then have its Report and Third Reading on the following Tuesday, 7 March.

As well as this timetable, I should alert noble Lords about some practical points which we have agreed in the usual channels to assist noble Lords with an interest in the Bill. The speakers list for Second Reading has already been opened, and any noble Lord wishing to sign up can now do so in the normal way. Noble Lords wishing to table amendments for Committee stage will be able to do so from 10 am on Thursday 9 February, or the arrival of the Bill, if it is later on the same day. I am grateful to the House authorities and, in particular, to the Legislation Office for their typical flexibility in this matter. I am also grateful to the usual channels for their constructive dialogue over the scheduling of this urgent and important Bill. I hope noble Lords will agree that we have balanced the priority of this House considering this important Bill against the need to ensure that it has the time available to conduct proper scrutiny, which I am sure it will do.

My Lords, I rise only briefly to thank the Government Chief Whip for the courtesy he extended to me and other colleagues in advising us early of his thoughts about the timetable and also for listening to our urgent representations to ensure that the House has the fullest opportunity to debate the Bill and consider amendments. I am particularly pleased that we probably have a bit longer than our colleagues in the Commons to look at the details. I am very grateful to the noble Lord.

It is not for me to answer a hypothetical question. There will no doubt be opportunities for the exchange of communications between the two Houses in the event of a disagreement, but I am not prepared to give a direct answer to that particular question because it is hypothetical.

My Lords, on behalf of these Benches I thank the Government Chief Whip for his courtesy throughout these discussions and also for ensuring that we will have adequate time to see this legislation through the House with due scrutiny, rather than it being unduly speedy.