Cookies: We use cookies to give you the best possible experience on our site. By continuing to use the site you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more
House of Lords Hansard
x
European Union (Withdrawal) Bill
20 June 2018
Volume 791

Commons Amendments

Motion

Moved by

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

That the Commons amendments be now considered forthwith.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My Lords, on behalf of the serried ranks behind me I enter a note of dissent and say how surprised I am that the Bill is returned to us this evening before your Lordships have even had a chance to read the Hansard account of what was said in the House of Commons just three hours ago, still less to consider it. Our Printed Paper Office in mid-afternoon did not even have a copy of David Davis’s critical Written Ministerial Statement published at 1pm. I had to tell the Printed Paper Office that I thought it existed and the Printed Paper Office had to tell me to go to the Vote Office in the House of Commons to get a copy because none was available in your Lordships’ House.

Throughout the passage of the Bill I have made an issue of these important procedural points, at the cost of making myself less than wildly popular with the Whips, because, as is becoming increasingly clear, what is happening on the Bill is a dry run for the decisions that Parliament will take on the EU withdrawal treaty—or the lack of a withdrawal treaty—in the months to come. Those decisions are probably the most important that we will take in our time as Members of this House and this Parliament and I therefore wish to put on record what I think many Back-Bench Members of your Lordships’ House believe, which is, first, that it should ultimately be for the House and not for the Whips, still less for the Government, to decide when and for how long we debate these vital matters of state, and secondly, that we should not bow to the instructions of the Government Chief Whip when the noble Lord, Lord Taylor, is behaving unreasonably.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.
The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

It is not reasonable for us to consider the Commons Reasons before we have even had a chance properly to read and consider what the House of Commons said.

Motion agreed.

Motion A

Moved by

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

That this House do agree with the Commons in their amendments 19R to 19T.

COMMONS AMENDMENTS IN LIEU

The Commons disagree to Lords Amendment 19 but propose Amendments 19A and 19B in lieu

19A Page 8, line 43, at end insert the following new Clause—

Parliamentary approval of the outcome of negotiations with the EU

(1) The withdrawal agreement may be ratified only if—

(a) a Minister of the Crown has laid before each House of Parliament—

(i) a statement that political agreement has been reached,

(ii) a copy of the negotiated withdrawal agreement, and

(iii) a copy of the framework for the future relationship,

(b) the negotiated withdrawal agreement and the framework for the future relationship have been approved by a resolution of the House of Commons on a motion moved by a Minister of the Crown,

(c) a motion for the House of Lords to take note of the negotiated withdrawal agreement and the framework for the future relationship has been tabled in the House of Lords by a Minister of the Crown and—

(i) the House of Lords has debated the motion, or

(ii) the House of Lords has not concluded a debate on the 17 motion before the end of the period of five sitting days 18 beginning with the first sitting day after the day on which the House of Commons passes the resolution mentioned in paragraph (b), and

(d) an Act of Parliament has been passed which contains provision for the implementation of the withdrawal agreement.

(2) So far as practicable, a Minister of the Crown must make arrangements for the motion mentioned in subsection (1)(b) to be debated and voted on by the House of Commons before the European Parliament decides whether it consents to the withdrawal agreement being concluded on behalf of the EU in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union.

(3) Subsection (4) applies if the House of Commons decides not to pass the resolution mentioned in subsection (1)(b).

30 (4) A Minister of the Crown must, within the period of 28 days beginning with the day on which the House of Commons decides not to pass the resolution, make a statement setting out how Her Majesty’s Government proposes to proceed in relation to negotiations for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union.(5) A statement under subsection (4) must be made in writing and be

37 published in such manner as the Minister making it considers appropriate.(6) This section does not affect the operation of Part 2 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 (ratification of treaties) in relation to the

40 withdrawal agreement.41 (7) In this section—42 “framework for the future relationship” means the document or documents identified, by the statement that political agreement has been reached, as reflecting the agreement in principle on the substance of the framework for the future relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom after withdrawal;46 “negotiated withdrawal agreement” means the draft of the withdrawal agreement identified by the statement that political agreement has been reached; “ratified”, in relation to the withdrawal agreement, has the same meaning as it does for the purposes of Part 2 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 in relation to a treaty (see section 25 of that Act);54 “sitting day” means a day on which the House of Lords is sitting (and a day is only a day on which the House of Lords is sitting if the House begins to sit on that day);56 “statement that political agreement has been reached” means a statement made in writing by a Minister of the Crown which—(a) states that, in the Minister’s opinion, an agreement in principle has been reached in negotiations under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union on the substance of—

(i) the arrangements for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU, and

(ii) the framework for the future relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom after withdrawal,

(b) identifies a draft of the withdrawal agreement which, in the Minister’s opinion, reflects the agreement in principle so far as relating to the arrangements for withdrawal, and

(c) identifies one or more documents which, in the Minister’s opinion, reflect the agreement in principle so far as relating to the framework.”

19B: Page 15, line 12, at end insert—

“( ) section (Parliamentary approval of the outcome of negotiations with the EU),”

LORDS NON-INSISTENCE, AGREEMENT AND AMENDMENTS

The Lords do not insist on their Amendment 19 and do agree with the Commons in their Amendments 19A and 19B in lieu and do propose Amendments 19C to 19E, 19G to 19L and 19P as amendments to Commons Amendment 19A—

19C Line 17, after “five” insert “Lords”

19D: Line 18, after “first” insert “Lords”

19E: Line 30, leave out “28” and insert “21”

19G: Line 40, at end insert—

“(6A) In subsection (1) “framework for the future relationship” means the document or documents identified, by the statement that political agreement has been reached, as reflecting the agreement in principle on the substance of the framework for the future relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom after withdrawal.”

19H: Line 41, at end insert—

““Commons sitting day” means a day on which the House of Commons is sitting (and a day is only a day on which the House of Commons is sitting if the House begins to sit on that day);”

19J: Line 42, leave out from beginning of line 42 to end of line 46

19K: Line 46, at end insert—

““Lords sitting day” means a day on which the House of Lords is sitting (and a day is only a day on which the House of Lords is sitting if the House begins to sit on that day);”

19L: Line 54, leave out from beginning of line 54 to end of line 56

19P: Line 37, at end insert—

“(5A) A Minister of the Crown must make arrangements for—

3 (a) a motion for the House of Commons to approve the statement mentioned in subsection (4), to be moved in that House by a Minister of the Crown within the period of seven Commons sitting days beginning with the day on which the statement is made, and

(b) a motion for the House of Lords to take note of the statement to be moved in that House by a Minister of the Crown within the period of seven Lords sitting days beginning with the day on which the statement is made.

(5B) Subsection (5C) applies if the Prime Minister makes a statement before the end of 21 January 2019 that no agreement in principle can be reached in negotiations under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union on the substance of—

(a) the arrangements for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU, and

(b) the framework for the future relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom after withdrawal.

(5C) A Minister of the Crown must, within the period of 14 days beginning with the day on which the statement mentioned in subsection (5B) is made—

(a) make a statement setting out how Her Majesty’s Government proposes to proceed, and

(b) make arrangements for—

24 (i) a motion for the House of Commons to approve the statement mentioned in paragraph (a), to be moved in that House by a Minister of the Crown within the period of seven Commons sitting days beginning with the day on which the statement mentioned in paragraph (a) is made, and(ii) a motion for the House of Lords to take note of the statement mentioned in paragraph (a) to be moved in that House by a Minister of the Crown within the period of seven Lords sitting days beginning with the day on which the statement mentioned in paragraph (a) is made.

(5D) A statement under subsection (5B) or (5C)(a) must be made in writing and be published in such manner as the Minister making it considers appropriate.

(5E) Subsection (5F) applies if, at the end of 21 January 2019, there is no agreement in principle in negotiations under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union on the substance of—

(a) the arrangements for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU, and

(b) the framework for the future relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom after withdrawal.

(5F) A Minister of the Crown must, within the period of five days beginning with the end of 21 January 2019—

(a) make a statement setting out how Her Majesty’s Government proposes to proceed, and

(b) make arrangements for—

50 (i) a motion for the House of Commons to approve the statement mentioned in paragraph (a), to be moved in that House by a Minister of the Crown within the period of five Commons sitting days beginning with the end of 21 January 2019, and(ii) a motion for the House of Lords to take note of the statement mentioned in paragraph (a) to be moved in that House by a Minister of the Crown within the period of five Lords sitting days beginning with the end of 21 January 2019.

(5G) A statement under subsection (5F)(a) must be made in writing and be published in such manner as the Minister making it considers appropriate.

(5H) For the purposes of this section—

(a) a statement made under subsection (4), (5C)(a) or (5F)(a) may be combined with a statement made under another of those provisions,

(b) a motion falling within subsection (5A)(a), (5C)(b)(i) or (5F)(b)(i) may be combined into a single motion with another motion falling within another of those provisions, and

(c) a motion falling within subsection (5A)(b), (5C)(b)(ii) or (5F)(b)(ii) may be combined into a single motion with another motion falling within another of those provisions.”

COMMONS AGREEMENT AND AMENDMENTS TO AMENDMENT

The Commons agree with the Lords in their Amendments 19C to 19E, 19G to 19L and 19P and propose the following amendments to Lords Amendment 19P—

19R: Line 3, leave out from “motion” to second “the” and insert “in neutral terms, to the effect that the House of Commons has considered the matter of”

19S: Line 24, leave out from “motion” to second “the” and insert “in neutral terms, to the effect that the House of Commons has considered the matter of”

19T: Line 50, leave out from “motion” to second “the” and insert “in neutral terms, to the effect that the House of Commons has considered the matter of”

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My Lords, on Monday evening this House voted to send Amendment 19P back to the other place because, as noble Lords supporting it made clear during the debate, they wanted to guarantee that the other place had the chance to consider that amendment. The other place has now had that chance and has voted to reject Amendment 19P, by a majority of 16, and to offer in its place the Government’s amendment. As noble Lords will be aware, this issue is the only outstanding point of difference on the Bill after many months of intensive scrutiny by both Houses. We and the House of Commons have debated this issue on multiple occasions. Where we stand today demonstrates the movement that has happened as a result.

As I outlined to the House on Monday, the amendment before us again today provides that, if Parliament rejects the final deal we make with the EU, the Government must bring forward not just a Statement but also a Motion. This will guarantee an opportunity for both Houses to express their views on the Government’s proposed next steps. The amendment also covers three sets of circumstances in which that opportunity would arise: should Parliament reject the Government’s deal with the EU, should no agreement be reached, or should no deal be agreed by 21 January 2019. As my right honourable friend the Secretary of State said earlier today, the amendment sets out in law a formal structure for Parliament to express its views in each of three possible scenarios set out. Importantly, the amendment also passes the Government’s three tests: it does not undermine the negotiations; it does not change the constitutional role of Parliament and Government in negotiating international treaties; and it respects the result of the referendum.

Respectfully, I submit that your Lordships’ House has done its job. We asked the House of Commons to consider this issue again. They have done that. They have rejected our suggestion and supported the Government’s amendment. I believe that our role is now to accept their view as expressed in the vote only a few hours ago. I hope that noble Lords, whatever their personal views on the issue at hand, will agree. In conclusion, I think we should reflect for a moment, as a House, on the milestone that the passage of the Bill will represent. This House and the other place have spent 11 months considering the Bill line by line. It is better for that work. The Bill’s passage will mean that the UK has the tools it needs to preserve the statute book after exit day, but it is not the end of the process of legislating for Brexit: this House will continue to play a critical role in the months and years ahead and I, for my part, know that it will be more than up to performing this task and complementing the work of the other place. I beg to move.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My Lords, the House of Commons has done what we had hoped: they have considered and debated our meaningful vote amendment. They have not done what some of us hoped and agreed with it, but I think we should celebrate how far we have come on this issue since the Bill arrived in this House. At that stage, there was absolutely nothing in the Bill about a vote, meaningful or otherwise, on the withdrawal deal and there was no mention of no deal. All the Prime Minister had said was that there would be a vote in both Houses on a deal. There was no commitment to that in law and the result of such a vote would have had no legislative consequence. The vote would have simply been on a Motion, which could be ignored—I will not go into whether it would have been amendable. Any such vote in this Chamber would have been particularly meaningless, as either we would have felt obliged to vote the same way as the Commons, whatever our view, or we would have voted differently and then been ignored, both of those, of course, being meaningless for this House, because as my noble friend Lord Grocott rightly feared, if there were two votes, one in each House, it would raise the question of the primacy of the House of Commons.

So that was all we had: the promise of a Motion but untied to any legislation. What we now have in the Bill is that the withdrawal agreement, including the framework for the future relationship, can be ratified only if it has been approved by the Commons and debated here. That is a legislative requirement akin to the Article 50 requirement for a vote in the European Parliament. That is a major concession. It would not have been there without the hard work of the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, without your Lordships’ commitment to ensuring that this matter was in the Bill, and without us sending the amendment back on Monday.

However, I have a query about what would happen if there was no deal, as to my mind the rather extraordinary last-minute Written Ministerial Statement, as a result of which Dominic Grieve seems to have felt that he could support the Government this afternoon, does not really clarify things. I am not sure what it means. Will the Motion be amendable? Liam Fox is already out and about, briefing that actually there is no change as a result of that. To me, it reads that it still leaves it to the Speaker to decide whether or not it is sufficiently neutral to be amendable. So it is not actually an undertaking that such a Motion will be amendable. Perhaps the Leader could shed a bit of light on the significance of what made such a difference to the right honourable Dominic Grieve.

In the meantime, with the catalogue of changes to the Bill outlined by my noble friend Lady Smith on Monday and the insertion of parliamentary approval of the withdrawal deal agreed today, I hope even the Government will recognise the vital role played by your Lordships’ House, and that our detractors, particularly in parts of the press, will realise that it is our role to ask the Government, and the Commons, to think again. We have done that, and to quite a large extent we have been heard.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My Lords, it seems rather hard to believe but this really will be the last time we debate the withdrawal Bill in your Lordships’ House.

As we did on Monday, we are focusing on only one issue—indeed, the significance of just two words in relation to a Motion that the Government would bring forward in the event of reaching no agreement with the EU on Brexit terms. The two words are “neutral terms”—a phrase, incidentally, which most of us have never heard before. The argument which won the day in the Lords was that “neutral terms” would preclude the Commons having the opportunity to express a view on the merits of the Government reaching no deal in the Brexit negotiations and on what should be done next. The Government argued that their formulation was necessary to preserve the constitutional role of Parliament and that the Grieve amendment would mandate the Government in completely unacceptable ways and they would not countenance it. Your Lordships’ House took a different view and that is why we are still here today.

Between the Bill leaving your Lordships’ House on Monday evening and this afternoon, the Government have clearly thought deeply about this matter and realised that their understanding of parliamentary procedure on Monday was flawed. They produced the Written Ministerial Statement—which, unless I missed it, the Leader did not refer to at all, yet that has been the crucial thing in the debates today—which, in lay man’s terms, says that it will be up to the Speaker to decide whether or not any government Motion in the event of no deal would be amendable, and that, in any event, there is nothing to stop the Commons debating any Motion that they want to on this issue, and that time would be found for them to do it.

There is now a battle of spin as to whether this represents a significant climbdown by the Government or whether winning the vote represents a victory. I wish that the right honourable Member for Beaconsfield had supported his own amendment this afternoon. But if I am disappointed, neither the Government nor Parliament can take any satisfaction from what has happened today. This week’s events demonstrate the contempt in which the Government hold Parliament. First, they try to muzzle it by putting “neutral terms” into the Bill. Then, fearing defeat, they publish a Written Ministerial Statement just minutes before the debate in the Commons which rips up their earlier justification for using the “neutral terms” ploy. At every turn they have demonstrated their only consistent characteristic: the determination to survive to another day. If there were a World Cup in kicking the can down the road, the Government would win it hands-down. But the can cannot be kicked down the road for ever.

The Government are going into next week’s European Council still with no policy, vision or credibility. Brexit ranks way down the list of the EU’s priorities, while inevitably remaining the consuming, paralysing preoccupation here. As the withdrawal Bill goes on to the statute book, the Government cannot answer any of the key questions which Brexit poses. For that they bear a heavy responsibility, and for that, in time, they will be harshly judged.

The House knows that we on these Benches believe that Brexit will make us poorer, less tolerant, less secure and less influential. We believe it would be an act of national self-harm. As noble Lords know, we have fought with every breath to amend the withdrawal Bill but in reality we are still in the early skirmishes of the overall Brexit battle. I am sure that the Leader and her team will be hugely relieved tonight to have survived this far. They may deserve their rest tomorrow but they are going to need it, because we will not rest until we have stopped Brexit.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My Lords—

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

No! Sit down!

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I thought it was the hallmark of your Lordships’ House that we listen to each other’s arguments. All I want to say is that I much prefer the analysis of the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, to that of the noble Lord, Lord Newby. I believe that your Lordships’ House has in fact improved the Bill very significantly and I think we should take quiet pride in that. I believe we were entirely right to pass that amendment on Monday and to send it back to the other place. I said then and I repeat now: the ultimate power lies with the elected House. We are right to accept what it has decided today, without Division, but I think it would be to the advantage of us all if there was a little more mutual tolerance of differing views in your Lordships’ Chamber.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My Lords, I second what the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, has said. I do not think the mood of the House has been at its best this evening.

After the courageous speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, on Monday, many of us were extremely disappointed that the other House did not assert the democratic power of Parliament and support the amendment of the noble Viscount and Mr Dominic Grieve. I watched the proceedings of the House of Commons from the Gallery, sitting next to the noble Duke, the Duke of Wellington, and the only comment I will make on that is if I go into battle in future, I would rather do that behind the noble Duke, the Duke of Wellington, than the Duke of York.

The position as it now stands is both highly confused and highly unsatisfactory. The text of the Bill says that in the extreme crisis of a proposed no-deal Brexit, all that the House of Commons will be allowed to do is to debate a take-note Motion. I was watching the House of Commons debate from the Gallery—we still do not have the Hansard account of it—and the most telling contribution was from Mr Hilary Benn, who put it like this: if future generations ask us what we did, all we can say is, “I took note”. As he also said, in this extremity, the job of Parliament,

“is not to take note; it is to take charge”.

When people say that Parliament should not give instructions and cannot negotiate, which has been the mantra of the Prime Minister in recent days, that misses the point that Parliament rightly gives instructions to the Executive all the time. That is why they are called the Executive: their job is to execute the will of Parliament.

The Commons even issues instructions on matters of peace and war—and rightly so, because we are a parliamentary democracy. When in 2013 the House of Commons declined to support David Cameron’s recommendation for the bombing of Syria, after the vote the then Prime Minister said:

“I believe in respecting the will of the House of Commons. It is very clear that the House does not want to see British military action. I get that and the Government will act accordingly”.

In the case of a no-deal Brexit, it is absolutely within the power and duty of the House of Commons, as the sovereign power in this democracy, similarly to tell the Government that this is not acceptable and that an alternative course should be followed. The Government then have a democratic responsibility to act accordingly.

This brings us to the curious Written Ministerial Statement from the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, which was tabled at 1 pm today. It says:

“It will be for the Speaker to determine whether a Motion when it is introduced by the Government under the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill is or is not in fact cast in neutral terms”.

As that is precisely what the Standing Orders of the House of Commons say in any event, that is saying nothing at all—and, crucially, those Standing Orders specifically say that Motions in neutral terms are unamendable, which is the precise point at issue.

There is then this sentence:

“The Government recognises that it is open for Ministers and members of the House of Commons to table motions on and debate matters of concern and that, as is the convention, parliamentary time will be provided for this”.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My Lords—

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am not giving way. The noble Lord spoke at huge length on Monday and I am taking my opportunity to speak.

To my great surprise, this satisfied Mr Grieve. All I can say, having, like other noble Lords, spent more than 100 hours in this House on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill, is that I simply do not trust the Government to uphold these constitutional conventions. The noble Lord, Lord Callanan, David Davis and Jacob Rees-Mogg are not interested in parliamentary conventions; they are ruthlessly determined on a hard Brexit. It is not only them; the Prime Minister now routinely ignores resolutions of the House of Commons —because she so often loses them—and has propounded a remarkable new constitutional doctrine that the Government regard themselves as bound only by statutes, not by other resolutions of the House of Commons.

It was precisely because of this dangerous new doctrine of government sovereignty trumping parliamentary sovereignty—

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My Lords—

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My Lords, I have made it very clear that I am not giving way to the noble Lord.

It is precisely because of this dangerous new doctrine of government sovereignty trumping parliamentary sovereignty that those of us standing up for parliamentary democracy sought to enshrine these key procedural issues in the Bill. It is a sad day for Parliament that we did not succeed and that we may now be dependent on the Government to observe conventions that they have so far been unwilling to preserve.

I will make one final point on the position of this House. We have been remarkably assiduous on this Bill. I think it is true to say that we have spent longer debating it than any other Bill in our entire 800-year history—and, tellingly, we spent about 50% longer debating it than did the House of Commons. As a long-serving member of your Lordships’ House, perhaps I may be allowed to say that our besetting weakness in this House is self-congratulation. It is not helped by the fact—I learned this trick as a Minister—that making a great show of congratulating the House on the brilliance of its revision is a seduction technique to minimise the extent of that revision.

In defence of the noble Lord, Lord Callanan, he has not gone in for much seduction, but there has been far too much self-congratulation on the other Benches of this House in the face of the reality of the situation that we face. The reality, as I see it, is this. We are presently on course for a hard Brexit and there is still no provision in statute to prevent such an outcome. On the contrary, the Government, with wafer-thin majorities—but none the less sufficient majorities—in the House of Commons have fought off all attempts at setting new national policy on a sensible and credible course. The truth is that for those of us in both Houses of Parliament who favour a sensible Brexit, and a people’s vote to allow the people to stop Brexit—

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

Will my noble friend give way?

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My Lords, I am drawing my remarks to a close. My noble friend can speak in a minute.

The truth is that those of us who favour a sensible Brexit or a people’s vote to allow the people to stop Brexit have suffered an unmitigated defeat on this Bill. Victories are not made up of accumulated defeats. We need to start winning soon or the country will lose very badly when the British people are forced into a hard Brexit that will make everyone poorer in only nine months’ time.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My Lords, when the noble Lord declined to give way either to me or to his noble friend Lord Grocott, one of his explanations was that on Monday I spoke for too long when I troubled your Lordships with a brief intervention. I invite the historians of our debate to examine how long and how often the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, has spoken in comparison with some of the rest of us.

I have listened to the comminations of the noble Lord, Lord Newby, my noble friend Lord Cormack and at length of the noble Lord, Lord Adonis. I note the empty Benches of the Labour Party opposite. The party which fills those Benches tried to stop this Bill and then sends its people home when it thinks it has no chance of bringing the Government down—

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

We have never tried to stop this Bill.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

I am old enough to know that you should judge people by their actions, and I have been watching them over the past few weeks.

I do not often say this, but I have a great deal of respect for the Liberal Democrats who are absolutely consistent in their view, and the noble Lord, Lord Newby, has honourably declared it. Others waver. I respect the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, for his view, but the minority in this House who actually reflect the majority opinion in this country do not need moral lectures and I believe that we should now proceed to vote. If the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, or the noble Lord, Lord Newby, feel as strongly as they have told this House and the country about this matter, let them now divide the House and thus show where their opinions stand.

The edit just sent has not been saved. The following error was returned:
This content has already been edited and is awaiting review.

My Lords, as I hope I draw this debate to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all noble Lords who have engaged constructively with the Government throughout our consideration of this Bill. I am sure that noble Lords on all Benches will join me in paying tribute to the staff of the House who have worked tirelessly and professionally to support that consideration.

I would also like to pay tribute to the work of my Front Bench colleagues and those of the Opposition and Liberal Democrat parties who have worked on this Bill. Their stamina alone, as has been seen on the Back Benches across the House, has been incredibly impressive, as has the quality of debate and scrutiny that they have engaged in.

Finally, I am sure that all noble Lords will join me in thanking the members of the Bill team for their hard work. I hope that at some point they will be able to look back over the past 11 months with some kind of pleasure, but I expect that that may take quite a while. On behalf of the House, we are extremely grateful to them.

Despite the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, I think that the scrutiny of your Lordships’ House has seen improvements made to this Bill. More than 230 amendments have been made by both Houses, and while there are a number of issues on which the Government did not agree, I am pleased that we have been able to find solutions and compromises to most of the concerns raised.

The subject before us today—the way in which Parliament can have a meaningful say about our exit from the EU—is a vitally important matter. We have debated it at length, and as the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, said, the proposition in the Bill is very different as a result of that debate. But the elected Chamber has now made its decision, a decision that your Lordships said on Monday that they wanted to give it the opportunity to take. The elected Chamber has decided how it wishes to proceed: with considering the Motions offered by the Government’s amendment. I now ask this House to respect that decision. I beg to move.

Motion A agreed to.

House adjourned at 7.59 pm.