Baroness Morgan of Cotes debates with Department for Exiting the European Union

There have been 10 exchanges between Baroness Morgan of Cotes and Department for Exiting the European Union

Wed 27th March 2019 EU: Withdrawal and Future Relationship (Motions) 3 interactions (848 words)
Mon 11th March 2019 EU Withdrawal Agreement: Legal Changes 3 interactions (133 words)
Tue 11th December 2018 European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018: Statutory Obligations on Ministers 3 interactions (81 words)
Mon 22nd October 2018 Leaving the EU: Meaningful Vote 3 interactions (83 words)
Wed 7th February 2018 European Free Trade Association (Westminster Hall) 3 interactions (125 words)
Tue 12th December 2017 European Union (Withdrawal) Bill 9 interactions (2,218 words)
Tue 7th November 2017 Exiting the EU: Sectoral Analysis 3 interactions (107 words)
Thu 26th October 2017 Leaving the EU: Parliamentary Vote 3 interactions (108 words)
Tue 17th October 2017 EU Exit Negotiations 3 interactions (96 words)
Thu 7th September 2017 European Union (Withdrawal) Bill 13 interactions (1,088 words)

EU: Withdrawal and Future Relationship (Motions)

Baroness Morgan of Cotes Excerpts
Wednesday 27th March 2019

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Exiting the European Union
Mr Speaker Hansard

Order. A five-minute limit on Back-Bench speeches must now apply with immediate effect.

Baroness Morgan of Cotes Portrait Nicky Morgan (Loughborough) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
27 Mar 2019, 5:06 p.m.

Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for calling me to speak in this important, groundbreaking and unprecedented debate. I was pleased to be one of the 30 Conservative MPs who helped to secure this debate. I am sorry that it is happening in a way, but the fact that it is happening shows, unfortunately, that the Government’s strategy for getting the withdrawal agreement through this House has not succeeded so far. To be clear, I will vote for that withdrawal agreement if and when it is re-presented to the House, because I think it is the best way for us to leave the EU in an orderly fashion as soon as that is practicable.

I would have spoken to amendment (N), standing in my name and those of other right hon. and hon. Members, but obviously it has not been selected. However, a word at the top of that motion has been used several times. It was used by the hon. Member for Aberavon (Stephen Kinnock), and it was used by the SNP leader here, the right hon. Member for Ross, Skye and Lochaber (Ian Blackford), who has just spoken, although I am not entirely sure that what he asked people to do would fulfil its strictures. The word is “compromise”, and it is an action that absolutely needs to be practised by Members on both sides of the House if today—and potentially Monday—is going to have an effect.

The point is that right hon. and hon. Members should be voting today for what they could countenance, not their preferred option. If we stay in our silos and our trenches, as I have spoken about before, we as a House will not find our way through this, and we will unfortunately fulfil what the Prime Minister said last week, which is that this House cannot find a way through. I think we will not have done our job as parliamentary representatives if that is the case.

I am sorry that my hon. Friend the Member for Grantham and Stamford (Nick Boles) is not in his place. In relation to common market 2.0—I will support that proposal tonight—he talked about a customs union and customs arrangements. One of the advantages of having been involved in the Malthouse compromise talks is that I know that alternative arrangements can be secured to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland. What we want on that border is no physical infrastructure, with no customs formalities at the border. With five key changes—there is not time to talk about them today, but there may be in future debates, and I am very happy to talk to any right hon. and hon. Members about those key changes—it would be possible to negotiate such arrangements.

The Leader of the House has talked about any solution being deliverable and negotiable, and having alternative arrangements to avoid the need to be in a customs union is both deliverable and negotiable, because we know the EU has already conceded the principle of them. In the documents tabled by the Government on 11 March, before the last meaningful vote, the EU has clearly said that such negotiations on those arrangements should commence immediately.

Mr Speaker, I heard earlier your strictures to the Government about the test that has to be met for the withdrawal agreement to be brought back to this House. You want to see significant change, and one way of achieving such significant change would be to allow the UK and the EU time to negotiate those alternative arrangements and put them into the withdrawal agreement so that the backstop is superseded. Looking at the names of those who have signed motion (N), we can see that there are Members of this House who are ready to sign up to that as a principle.

In my previous life as a solicitor negotiating mergers and acquisitions deals, I spent many a less-than-happy hour locked in meeting rooms with fellow lawyers and clients and, frankly, we just did not leave until the deal had been done. That needs to happen now to get the backstop replaced and the alternative arrangements secured if that is what Members want.

I will vote for any option that gives a negotiated settlement and leads to an orderly exit from the EU. The question for the House, which may arise after Monday—we shall have to see—is what the Government’s response is and how any Government will implement what the House may have identified as a way forward. There may well be difficult decisions for the Government, but also for the House, about the form of the Government who will take that forward. Will we need even greater cross-party working to arrive at a solution and a Government who can negotiate the outcome with the EU?

Although today is an important step forward, it is really only the start of the process of arriving at a compromise. I entirely agree with the Chairman of the Brexit Committee, who said that we should have started this process two years ago. The country, Parliament and the Government would be in a much happier place.

Yvette Cooper Portrait Yvette Cooper (Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford) (Lab) - Parliament Live - Hansard
27 Mar 2019, 5:11 p.m.

The debate is proving to be thoughtful and considered. It is the debate that we should have had two years ago. There was an appetite from all parts of the House and from all different perspectives to have such a debate more than two years ago. There was also a spirit across the House—among those who voted leave and those who voted remain—to come together and find a way to make the process work. It is why so many Members from all parts of the House voted for article 50, but also put forward proposals through Select Committees and different debates, and wanted the chance to table amendments. That is why I called for a cross-party commission to oversee the negotiations from the very beginning. Sadly, that did not happen and the Prime Minister did not want to do things that way. That is why we are in this terrible mess and our constituents are tearing their hair out. Whether they voted leave or remain, people are feeling deeply frustrated and let down.

Just as our constituents—employers and trade unions, neighbours and friends, different parts of communities—come together to compromise and sort things out, it is our responsibility to do that now. The proposal to hold indicative votes was important. We will all have to compromise and vote for motions, parts of which we do not necessarily agree with. We might not agree with every single bit of a motion or an idea, but we might think there is the basis for finding some form of compromise.

When the CBI, which represents 190,000 British businesses, and the TUC, which represents 5.6 million British workers, come together to describe a national emergency, there is a responsibility on us to act. They spoke with other members of a national industrial coalition in Parliament this morning, in a meeting that the right hon. Member for Meriden (Dame Caroline Spelman) and my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Jack Dromey) called. They said that a plan B that protects workers, the economy and an open Irish border, commands a parliamentary majority, and is negotiable with the EU must be found. That is why I have put my name to the customs union motion. I have called for that from the beginning and I think it can be the basis of finding consensus and building agreement.

Businesses in our area—our big manufacturers, Burberry and Haribo; local retailers and distributors such as Asda and Teva; small businesses and traders, farmers and florists—have all warned that they need a deal that avoids border delays, tariffs or extra customs bureaucracy. It is why we heard from the motor manufacturers, the National Farmers Union and the aerospace sector in the meeting this morning. They all called for a customs union, which is at the heart of Labour motion (K) on an alternative Brexit approach. It is also why the TUC argued for the importance of the common market 2.0 approach.

In the motions and in points that Members of all parties have made, there is a range of options that we should consider and that mean we can continue to oppose the chaos of no deal, which would be deeply damaging to all our constituents. I keep very much in mind the words of a friend in Pontefract, who I talked to last week. He is waiting for radiotherapy but does not know whether the treatment will be delayed because no deal could put at risk the supply of the short-life isotopes that are needed for radiotherapy. In his interests and those of patients in all our constituencies, as well as constituents who could be hit by higher food, fuel and utilities prices in the event of a chaotic no deal, we must continue to argue against it.

I take a different approach from that suggested by motion (L), because I think that in those circumstances we should argue for more time with the European Union to try to get a resolution and, frankly, to sort things out.

Whatever the outcome today and on Monday, we are going to have to do two things that the Government have fundamentally failed to do—get clarity on what Brexit means and build consensus. We are talking about constitutional change, and nothing lasts without consensus. On Scottish and Welsh devolution, consensus was built and it lasted. On the Lisbon and Maastricht treaties, consensus was not built and support for them has not endured. The same is true in this situation. Unless clear consensus can be built, public consent or a public vote will be needed through a general election or referendum; otherwise it will not last. It is in all of our interests to build consensus, come together and do what we should have done two years ago.

EU Withdrawal Agreement: Legal Changes

Baroness Morgan of Cotes Excerpts
Monday 11th March 2019

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Exiting the European Union
Mr Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Mar 2019, 3:52 p.m.

The right hon. Gentleman, who is the Chair of the Exiting the European Union Committee, asked me a series of questions, and I think that he knows I cannot answer them all. My Secretary of State has reiterated to me that he is keen to give evidence to the Select Committee tomorrow, so perhaps he can update the right hon. Gentleman and his Committee on all those issues.

Baroness Morgan of Cotes Portrait Nicky Morgan (Loughborough) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Mar 2019, 3:53 p.m.

May I likewise welcome the Minister? Before his well-deserved promotion, he was an excellent Parliamentary Private Secretary—[Interruption.] That was before my demotion, but there we are. Has not the right hon. Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn) just shown us exactly what the Leader of the Opposition should have done in an urgent question that is entitled “EU Withdrawal Agreement: Legal Changes”? The nub of the matter is that we would be better served by a forensic examination of the January letter from Presidents Tusk and Juncker, in which much was conceded by the EU, and that now needs to be turned into legally binding text. Many complain about delay, dither and the consequences for workplaces, but does the Minister agree that all that could be solved if the agreement was passed tomorrow?

Mr Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Mar 2019, 3:53 p.m.

My right hon. Friend makes a very good point. Of course we should pass this agreement, but it is vital that the Prime Minister has gone in to negotiate right up to the last moment so that she can address the concerns of this House. I agree with my right hon. Friend that the letter from the Presidents took some steps to address those concerns, but we have sought, and we will continue to seek, legally binding changes.

European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018: Statutory Obligations on Ministers

Baroness Morgan of Cotes Excerpts
Tuesday 11th December 2018

(1 year, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Exiting the European Union
Mr Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Dec 2018, 12:48 p.m.

I have great respect for the right hon. Lady. I understand that she came to this House expecting to have a row about the Government’s interpretation, and I understand the questions she has just asked. I am responding to this urgent question because my Department is responsible for the legislation that enacts the deal, and I have given her our very clear interpretation of that legislation, which is that we will have a motion before the House by 21 January, in all the different scenarios I talked through in my statement.

The answer to the right hon. Lady is very clear. We respect the decision made by this House that the Government should come back to the House with a motion in the event that no deal had been agreed or in the event that this House had rejected a deal. That is clear from my statement.

What we are therefore saying is that there will be a motion by 21 January, and I agree with the right hon. Lady—I would much rather it were, and I fully expect it to be, sooner. I fully expect this House to have the opportunity to debate a withdrawal agreement that it is able to support. So let us work together to achieve that, but let us not allow some of the conspiracy theories and the scare stories that have been told about this to run away when I have just clarified the Government’s position.

Baroness Morgan of Cotes Portrait Nicky Morgan (Loughborough) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Dec 2018, 12:49 p.m.

I have great sympathy for the points made by both the Minister, who is acting with integrity, as he always has done in his parliamentary career, and the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper). It is unquestionable that this Parliament must have a say—a meaningful vote—on the deal, or no deal, that comes about. Can the Minister give a categorical assurance that there will be no trickery by the Government to stop Parliament from having a say?

Mr Robin Walker Portrait Mr Walker - Parliament Live - Hansard
11 Dec 2018, 12:49 p.m.

I am grateful for my right hon. Friend’s words, and I am happy to give that categorical assurance. As my statement reflected, we will be putting a motion before Parliament, even in the circumstances that no deal was before the House, but I strongly believe and expect that there will be a deal before this House, which I will be urging Parliament to support.

Leaving the EU: Meaningful Vote

Baroness Morgan of Cotes Excerpts
Monday 22nd October 2018

(1 year, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Exiting the European Union
Dominic Raab Portrait Dominic Raab - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Oct 2018, 4:21 p.m.

I always respect the views of the Select Committee Chair, but the position is set out in the memorandum. We think it the proper course to ensure both a meaningful vote to which substantive amendments can be tabled and a clear decision on the outcome.

Baroness Morgan of Cotes Portrait Nicky Morgan (Loughborough) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Oct 2018, 4:21 p.m.

When did the Secretary of State and the Government get the legal advice that told them they needed this so-called clean motion first? I do not remember, and I do not think my colleagues remember, it being the subject of any discussions with Ministers or Whips in relation to section 13. When did they get it and why did he feel it appropriate to break the news to the Procedure Committee and not Members of his own party with whom he had discussions?

Dominic Raab Portrait Dominic Raab - Parliament Live - Hansard
22 Oct 2018, 4:22 p.m.

We do not comment on legal advice, but obviously we took advice continually throughout the progress of the EU withdrawal Act, and the issue of section 13—the process and the need for it—and the importance of having a clear and decisive outcome to the meaningful vote, which is the surest way to make sure it is meaningful and substantive, were discussed at length during the passage of that Act.

European Free Trade Association

Baroness Morgan of Cotes Excerpts
Wednesday 7th February 2018

(2 years, 7 months ago)

Westminster Hall
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Department for Exiting the European Union
Stephen Hammond Portrait Stephen Hammond - Hansard
7 Feb 2018, 9:54 a.m.

My right hon. Friend is of course a lawyer and I am not, but I have had conversations with the president of the EFTA court, Mr Baudenbacher, and he would agree that her interpretation is correct and what she describes would be possible. That is only one opinion, but it is that of the president of the EFTA court and therefore it clearly carries some weight and some merit.

The EFTA court has made divergent decisions from the ECJ on numerous occasions. In fact, because the EFTA court deals with cases more quickly, it often hears the novel cases first, and in some cases the ECJ follows the EFTA court. The EFTA court’s rulings are only advisory domestically, so it cannot overrule our sovereign court, the Supreme Court. Again, the point is that we would be heavily involved in influencing.

Baroness Morgan of Cotes Portrait Nicky Morgan (Loughborough) (Con) - Hansard
7 Feb 2018, 9:55 a.m.

I, too, congratulate my hon. Friend on securing this very important debate. Does he agree that one reason why many people voted to leave the European Union was that they wanted the UK to take back control? He has just brought up the very important word “sovereignty”, which for many people in the debate is at the heart of why they voted the way they did in June 2016; many people wanted to go back. Of course, the UK was a founding member of EFTA in 1960, so does he agree that the EFTA-EEA arrangement would meet the test of looking back to a day when we were happy with our relationship with the European Union and, of course, the UK would take back control?

Stephen Hammond Portrait Stephen Hammond - Hansard
7 Feb 2018, 9:55 a.m.

My right hon. Friend, the Chairman of the Treasury Committee, is right. One great virtue of what we are talking about today is that we are looking at where the UK is at its best, in that we are looking at the economics rather than becoming obsessed with ideology about some of the political points. This proposal solves many of the legal arguments and gives economic certainty to businesses and citizens, which is clearly what the House wants.

European Union (Withdrawal) Bill

(Committee: 6th sitting: House of Commons)
Baroness Morgan of Cotes Excerpts
Tuesday 12th December 2017

(2 years, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Exiting the European Union
Deidre Brock Portrait Deidre Brock - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Dec 2017, 7:14 p.m.

This is exactly the point, is it not? Under this form of legislation Ministers will not be as accountable to this House. I am also of the view that environmental legislation, for example, has been well served by the European Parliament, so I have to disagree with the right hon. Gentleman.

Parliamentary scrutiny would be severely limited by the form of statutory instrument being proposed, but the sheer volume of secondary legislation that is likely to be washing through the system will render effective parliamentary scrutiny almost impossible. We need checks and balances inserted into the system to ensure that there is not legislation made in haste for which we all repent at leisure. I welcome the fact that at least a sifting committee has been accepted by the Government, but it does not go far enough. It would be a sensible argument for this secondary legislation, where it is necessary, to be subject to the super-affirmative procedure. I would like to hear from Ministers why that has not been considered or, if it has, why it has been rejected. Such an approach would not solve the problem, but it would, at least, nod in the direction of solving it.

We also have to recognise that other Administrations have a substantial interest in these decisions, and a degree of co-operation and respect is required. Therefore, “taking back control” has to have an element of that good, old-fashioned, EU principle of subsidiarity. Decisions that have large impacts on the devolved Administrations should be co-decisions. That is why the Joint Ministerial Committee should be involved in making them; it is why there should be proper consultation across the Administrations before changes are made to social security provisions; and it is why there should be consent from the Welsh and Scottish Administrations for any changes to the law that affect provisions within devolved competences.

We have heard the opinions of parliamentary Committees and of outside bodies. I know that experts are not viewed particularly favourably on the Government Benches, but they do have an important role to play, and many experts, including the Law Society of Scotland and the Equality and Human Rights Commission, have expressed serious concerns. Those concerns should be heeded in this place and heard by Ministers. It is clear that the furious Brexiteers who drove on when sensible voices were urging caution have ignored this advice:

“Heat not a furnace for your foe so hot

That it do singe yourself.”

Baroness Morgan of Cotes Portrait Nicky Morgan (Loughborough) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
12 Dec 2017, 7:15 p.m.

I rise to speak to new clauses 53 and 77 and to amendments 385, 1, 2, 3, 5, 48 and 49. In view of all the speeches we have heard so far and the long speech from the Minister, I hope to deal with these matters quite briefly because many of the issues have already been discussed and, in some ways, addressed from the Dispatch Box.

Today, we are debating the rectifying of deficiencies that would result from bringing EU law into UK law. As my right hon. Friend the Member for Broxtowe (Anna Soubry) said, whatever we might think about the process of leaving the European Union, it is happening and we need to bring EU law into UK law if our withdrawal is to work successfully. I have always said that Brexit is good news for lawyers, and I say that with respect to my former profession.

New clause 53 was spoken to so impressively by my hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton), and through it he seeks to address the potential loss of family reunion aspects of the Dublin III regulation and to propose alterations to the UK’s system by taking the key definition of “family” from the Dublin III convention and applying it to the UK’s refugee family reunion rules. Earlier this year, as my hon. Friend said, we went to Greece as guests of UNICEF to visit and talk to those who had travelled and were seeking refuge and looking to join family members in other parts of Europe. It was a moving and rather depressing but also ultimately inspirational visit that showed the power of the human spirit, particularly in younger people in search of a better life.

Parents and families often send their young people off to look for a better life here in Europe. Many of the young people we saw had made the dangerous journey to access family reunion under the Dublin III rules. As my hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and Shoreham said, Dublin III allows children to join their extended family once they reach Europe. Under the regulation, the definition of extended family includes uncles, aunts, grandparents and older siblings. If, after Brexit, children fleeing war and persecution will be able to rely only on the UK’s immigration rules, they will have a right to be reunited only with their parents, as the existing UK immigration rules provide only for the right of parents with refugee status or humanitarian protection to sponsor their under 18-year-old dependent children to join them in the UK. The UK rules do not provide the same right to other family members.

We have to recognise that in many of these circumstances, it is because a young person’s parents have perhaps been killed or are unable to look after them that wider family members might offer protection and the chance of a new life. Ministers were clear, right from the White Paper onward to the way the Bill was presented on Second Reading, and in speeches on this subject, that no rights would be changed or policy changes made in the Bill. It is about making sure that EU law that is brought back to the UK works and that deficiencies are corrected if necessary.

Sir Oliver Letwin Hansard
12 Dec 2017, 7:18 p.m.

Did my right hon. Friend share my puzzlement at the answer that the Minister gave to that point at the Dispatch Box? It seemed an argument was being made that Dublin III requires co-operation that would be impossible to guarantee. As I understood it, my hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and Shoreham (Tim Loughton) and my right hon. Friend herself are both recommending a change in our immigration law to ensure that we parallel the situation that currently obtains under Dublin III.

Baroness Morgan of Cotes Portrait Nicky Morgan - Hansard
12 Dec 2017, 7:19 p.m.

My right hon. Friend puts it extremely well. I was going to say that the Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, my hon. Friend the Member for Wycombe (Mr Baker), was one of the most ardent campaigners for the UK to leave the European Union, presumably—I think I have heard him and others say this—on the basis that the UK would then be able to do what was right for us and what we judged to be in the national interest and the right thing to do for our place in the world, so there was irony in his saying that we would not be able to do that because of restrictions and because it would not be allowed under the rules. That seemed to drive a coach and horses through what has been sold to me sometimes as the benefits of Brexit. I might remain unconcerned, but on this, I think that there might well be an opportunity for us to improve the current situation. I hope very much that the UK Government will take up such an opportunity.

If leaving the European Union gives us a chance to provide more clarity to our immigration rules, it has to be a good thing. From what the Minister said, I understand that there may be another piece of legislation, namely the forthcoming immigration Bill, that might be more suitable for tackling the issue. As my hon. Friend the Member for East Worthing and Shoreham said, we have spoken to the Minister for Immigration. I hope that we can take advantage of this opportunity to look again at the rules to clarify the fact that we want to mirror the Dublin III rules as we go forward. Ministers can be assured that, if this is not picked up when we get to that immigration Bill, my hon. Friend and I will be tabling a similar amendment in order to probe further and to hold the Government to account.

It is important that the United Kingdom remains committed to helping the most vulnerable both here and abroad. Surely that must be partly what a global Britain—by which I mean Britain taking its place on the world stage and making a difference—has to be about. This is the sort of amendment that says much about our values as a Government, as a party and also as a country. We do not want to make it even harder for young people to come to this country to build a new life and to make the most of themselves. I view this issue through the inspirational work of the Baca charity in my constituency.

Let me turn now to new clause 77 and amendment 385, which were spoken to so well by the hon. Member for Birmingham, Yardley (Jess Phillips). She knows a lot about these sorts of issues so I will keep my remarks very brief. Again the point is that the protections for those at risk of violence or worse must surely be maintained as we leave the European Union. I cannot honestly believe that any Member in this House would want Brexit to stop the current protections for those at such risk.

The hon. Lady’s amendment picks up on the European protection orders that allow a person who is protected against a perpetrator in a member state to retain that protection when they travel or move within the European Union. I heard what the Under-Secretary said at the Dispatch Box. I take the point that this is a detailed amendment and that, perhaps, it is better dealt with by the relevant Ministers from the relevant Department—the Home Office. I think that the Minister, who is back in the Chamber, did agree that this point would be, and should be, on the negotiation agenda. The desire for UK courts to continue to recognise European protection orders after exit date must surely be right, and I will support the hon. Lady in her amendment. There are a number of other Members—I cannot remember the exact number—who have signed this amendment to make sure that these issues are on the negotiation agenda. When talking about leaving the European Union, it is very easy to boil it all down to trade, to numbers and to statistics, but there are people whose lives will be affected, as we have also seen with EU citizens living here and UK citizens living abroad.

Finally, the Prime Minister has been committed throughout her political career to ending human trafficking, fighting female genital mutilation and having a strong strategy to fight violence against women and girls. She has been very clear on this, so I cannot believe that she would not want these protections to be upheld after the exit date.

Finally, let me turn to the Henry VIII powers and the amendments laid by the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper) who was particularly concerned about the concentration of powers in the hands of Ministers. I think she is right. I am a former lawyer, and one of the legal tendencies is continually to try to draft against what can go wrong when a client is about to embark on something—whether they have been advised to do it or not to do it. A lawyer’s task then is to try to find them protections. Although we can have confidence in current Ministers with regard to the powers that they might want to exercise, we never know what might happen in the future. If this Parliament does not ask why Ministers want all these powers and what they are going to do with them, the next generation of MPs, and the ones after that, will want to know why; they will want to know why we did not seek to apply some limitations on the exercise of those powers.

I am pleased that the Government have listened to the concerns about Henry VIII powers and are going to accept the amendments tabled by the Chair of the Procedure Committee, my hon. Friend the Member for Broxbourne (Mr Walker). He has secured an important concession—that Ministers will keep Members of Parliament informed of the forthcoming statutory instruments. I hope that Ministers will take that on board. Parliament must be involved in scrutinising powers that are exercised by the Executive. It is a fundamental tenet of this country’s unwritten constitution. I have set out two examples: the protection of the rights of vulnerable children and of those at risk of violence or worse. We should be asking how the statutory instruments needed to bring those laws back from Europe will be exercised and drafted, and we should be checking it all.

Sir Oliver Letwin Hansard
12 Dec 2017, 11:30 a.m.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the proposed changes to the standing orders are particularly welcome in that they provide specifically for the new committee, as I understand it—I am looking for approval from the Chair of the Procedure Committee —to use the Select Committees that deal with each Department to look in detail at the departmental statutory instruments, so we will have real expertise available?

Baroness Morgan of Cotes Portrait Nicky Morgan - Hansard
12 Dec 2017, 11:30 a.m.

That is an excellent point and a very good idea. There has always been a wider call for the Treasury Committee, which I am privileged to chair, to look more broadly at finance legislation.

The Minister had a difficult job this afternoon. There were a lot of amendments for him to deal with, many of which were very detailed and some of which were clearly not within his departmental remit. This proves the point that we do need Members of Parliament who have an expertise in their background, sit on a Select Committee or have held a particular ministerial brief. This is the time for them to offer their expertise to the House and the country in order to ensure that we get the law that we are bringing back from the EU correct.

Sir Charles Walker Portrait Mr Charles Walker - Hansard
12 Dec 2017, 11:30 a.m.

My right hon. Friend is making an excellent speech. Does she agree that although time is short and there is a great deal of urgency to get this done, it seems that the House is up for it, and that we will find the time and the sense of vim and vigour to really exercise our scrutiny function?

Baroness Morgan of Cotes Portrait Nicky Morgan - Hansard
12 Dec 2017, 7:28 p.m.

I absolutely agree with my hon. Friend. I hope that those listening get the impression that, whatever our views about the wisdom or otherwise of leaving the European Union, the fact is that the decision has been made. We need to make it work in order to set things up for the next generation of people in this country and for the next generation of Members of Parliament, who at some point we will hand the batons on to in our constituencies. If we are to do that, we have to ensure that the legal system we put in place works, the details are right and adequate scrutiny has been given.

The appetite of Members to debate this Bill—I am sure that this will happen on other consequential Bills needed to implement our withdrawal from the EU—shows that we are prepared to put in the hours and want to help. It also helps to build a consensus in this House. I hope that that will show the country a leadership that is about Members of Parliament taking responsibility for getting it right for the country and acting in the national interest. On this critical issue of EU withdrawal, which will affect the country for decades to come, we must absolutely show that leadership as a House.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bromley and Chislehurst (Robert Neill) talked about Parliament being here to improve legislation. Amendments should not be an affront to the Government. They will obviously disagree with some. They might agree with the principle of others, but would want to reword them in a way that finds approval with the parliamentary draftsmen. There will also be some that they will initially want to resist, but if they test the will of the House, they will find that Members want to make those amendments. In fact, such amendments may very well improve legislation and help with parliamentary handling. As the Minister said, we are dealing with 40 years of law and there are hundreds of issues, but there is an opportunity to do things in the UK’s way.

I am very persuaded by amendment 49, which talks about the limitation of powers and having no concentration of powers. There are perhaps improvements that can be made to it, and the amendment the Government have said they will accept on the work of the new sifting committee is very welcome. However, the amendment sends an important signal about the way the constitution in this country works, and for that reason, if the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford presses it, I will support it this evening.

Angela Smith Hansard
12 Dec 2017, 7:30 p.m.

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak in this important debate. It is a real privilege to follow the right hon. Member for Loughborough (Nicky Morgan). I rise to speak primarily to new clause 18 and to new clauses 24 and 27 and amendment 124. I will also speak more broadly to a range of amendments that have been selected for today’s debate.

Clause 7, which today’s proceedings are primarily concerned with, stands as a significant extension of the powers available to Ministers of the Crown. The speech by the hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (John Penrose) went to the heart of the debate we have had today in relation to what he called the principle of necessity. His test for whether clause 7 stands worthy to pass through to the next stage of the legislative process is, “Does it meet the principle of necessity or go beyond the test necessary to meet the principle of necessity?” I would suggest that, as it stands, the clause does not meet that test.

The right hon. Member for Loughborough made a point that my hon. Friend the Member for Nottingham East (Mr Leslie) made at the beginning of today’s proceedings: one of the key questions relating to that test is whether Members of Parliament in the future will look back at what we do today and over the next few months and determine that we gave Ministers too much power in this Bill. For me, that is one of the real questions at the heart of the principle the hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare outlined earlier.

As it stands, the only pieces of legislation safeguarded in the clause are the Human Rights Act 1998 and some aspects of the Northern Ireland Act 1998. As has been pointed out many times this afternoon, not even the Bill is safe from the hands of Ministers once enacted. As drafted, the Bill will give Ministers flexibility way above and beyond what is necessary, allowing them to create or amend any legislation on the UK statute book to mitigate any failure or deficiency in retained EU law.

I am not convinced that my constituents—even those who voted to leave the European Union—possess the sort of blind faith the Government seem to be asking for, and I certainly do not have that blind faith at the moment. Indeed, a number of parliamentarians on both sides of the Chamber clearly have significant reservations. Further, of course, I am not persuaded that such sweeping powers are necessary.

I understand that the time constraints associated with the article 50 process and the volume of legislative amendments required to implement Brexit put pressures on the Government—I totally acknowledge that. I also understand that putting all the corrections into the Bill at this stage would be entirely impractical and that the Government do require flexibility to respond to all eventualities as negotiations with the European Union take place. In that sense, the spirit of the debate today has been very helpful, and the Government have to concede that most of the contributions have been made with the intention of improving the Bill and ensuring that it works in protecting the legislation we want to transpose into UK law.

Even so, as I have said already, the powers the Bill asks for are too broadly defined and risk undermining the sovereignty of Parliament. There is a balance to be struck between giving the Government the necessary tools to implement Brexit and not forgoing parliamentary scrutiny. What the Bill proposes does not strike that balance, which is why I support new clause 24 in the name of my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol East (Kerry McCarthy), which stands as a really serious attempt to define properly the principle of necessity.

Just last year, the Brexit Secretary told the Commons Select Committee that he did not foresee any major or material changes being made by delegated legislation. If that is not necessary, what possible justification can he have for including such sweeping powers in the Bill?

In its recent report, the Lords Constitution Committee outlined a number of requirements of Bills granting Henry VIII powers. In essence, it recommended that the breadth of any powers given should be as narrow as possible, which is clearly not so in this case. This point is furthered by the Supreme Court justice, Lord Neuberger, who says that

“the more general the words used by Parliament to delegate a power, the more likely it is that an exercise within the literal meaning of the words will nevertheless be outside the legislature’s contemplation.”

In other words, the broader the powers given, the more likely that, if exercised, litigation will follow. That point was made very powerfully by the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve), and the Government do need to respond to it.

In their March 2017 White Paper, the Government said that their proposed procedures represented

“the beginning of a discussion between Government and Parliament as to the most pragmatic and effective approach to take in this area.”

I am afraid that so far, despite the concessions made, we have not got there. There are issues relating to the scope of the Bill that have been very clearly articulated today. Amendment 392, accepted by the Government, represents progress, but it does not go far enough because it deals only with part of the problem.

Triage is fine, but at the end of the day the scrutiny process does not allow Parliament to amend or send back a statutory instrument for further consideration by the Government. That is a real weakness in the scrutiny system that must be addressed, as the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield said. That is why I support new clause 18, which gives Parliament the chance to look properly and in depth at what is needed to ensure that Parliament has proper powers of scrutiny over the delegated legislation process in relation to this Bill. The Hansard Society report gives us a really good start in that process. The Government have no need to be alarmed about new clause 18. This can be done reasonably quickly, and Parliament has the right to expect it.

The hon. Member for Brighton, Pavilion (Caroline Lucas) is not here to speak to her new clause 27, which is a shame, because the environment is at the very heart of the Brexit process, yet so far it has been fairly peripheral to the debate. If we are going to get Brexit right, the Government need to understand that environmental standards are the one thing that matters to every citizen in this country. Everybody who voted in the referendum, whether leave or remain, will expect the Government to maintain environmental standards at least to the level where they are now.

Exiting the EU: Sectoral Analysis

Baroness Morgan of Cotes Excerpts
Tuesday 7th November 2017

(2 years, 10 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Exiting the European Union
Mr Steve Baker Portrait Mr Baker - Parliament Live - Hansard
7 Nov 2017, 12:46 p.m.

The material that we hold includes commercially sensitive material and material that is relevant to our negotiating position. The House has previously voted not to release information that would be prejudicial to our negotiating position. If we were to give the right hon. Gentleman and the Committee the original reports commissioned at the beginning of the Department’s life, he would find that that material was incomplete and out of date. It is our intention to satisfy the motion by providing to him information that is relevant, timely and correct.

Baroness Morgan of Cotes Portrait Nicky Morgan (Loughborough) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
7 Nov 2017, 12:46 p.m.

The Minister does himself no favours by turning into a partisan matter a perfectly legitimate request by this sovereign Parliament for information about the most important negotiations to affect this country for decades. In the Secretary of State’s letter to the Chair of the Brexit Committee, he talks about

“a wide mix of qualitative and quantitative analysis”.

Presumably, one part of that is the model that the Chancellor referred to when he gave evidence to the Treasury Committee recently. He said that there is a cross-departmental model that

“looks at impacts on different parts of our economy”.

My understanding is that that model is available immediately. Will it be disclosed immediately?

Mr Steve Baker Portrait Mr Baker - Parliament Live - Hansard
7 Nov 2017, 12:47 p.m.

The Treasury model to which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor referred is not contained within the documents, which I have carefully studied.

Leaving the EU: Parliamentary Vote

Baroness Morgan of Cotes Excerpts
Thursday 26th October 2017

(2 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Exiting the European Union
Mr David Davis Portrait Mr Davis - Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Oct 2017, 10:52 a.m.

As I think I said to the right hon. Gentleman’s Committee yesterday, negotiating that during the transition would put us at a negotiating disadvantage. The House was promised, in respect of the approval of the negotiations, that all three elements—the divorce, as he terms it, the transition and the long-term arrangement—would be put to the House together. That is the best way to assess this whole thing. The hon. Member for Glenrothes (Peter Grant) said that the decision should be made on the whole facts—all the decisions, all the facts.

Baroness Morgan of Cotes Portrait Nicky Morgan (Loughborough) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Oct 2017, 10:53 a.m.

There is a way for the Government to put this matter completely beyond doubt and that is to accept amendment 7 to the withdrawal Bill tabled by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve). Reports have reached Government Back Benchers that the Secretary of State does not think that those Conservative Members who have signed the amendment are serious about supporting it if we need to. May I tell him that we are deadly serious? It would be better for all concerned if the Government were to adopt a concession strategy and have the withdrawal agreement secured by statute sooner rather than later.

Mr David Davis Portrait Mr Davis - Parliament Live - Hansard
26 Oct 2017, 10:53 a.m.

I will not pre-empt the discussions on the Bill, but those reports are not true.

EU Exit Negotiations

Baroness Morgan of Cotes Excerpts
Tuesday 17th October 2017

(2 years, 11 months ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Exiting the European Union
Mr David Davis Portrait Mr Davis - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Oct 2017, 1:49 p.m.

We are in a negotiation. As the hon. Gentleman quite rightly points out, we have been talking for five rounds so far, and indeed I had another meeting with Mr Juncker and Mr Barnier last night. Let us just see what the European Council comes out with on Friday, shall we?

Baroness Morgan of Cotes Portrait Nicky Morgan (Loughborough) (Con) - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Oct 2017, 1:50 p.m.

The Secretary of State said in his statement that

“we cannot fully resolve the issues without also addressing our future relationship”.

He is obviously right in saying that, but is it not also the case that it is impossible to address the future relationship if talks do not take place? Will he therefore resist the siren voices who are tempting him to say that if there is no progress this week, we should get up and walk away? If we get up and walk away, we will never solve the issues that he talked about in his statement.

Mr David Davis Portrait Mr Davis - Parliament Live - Hansard
17 Oct 2017, 1:50 p.m.

There are no plans to get up and walk away.

European Union (Withdrawal) Bill

Baroness Morgan of Cotes Excerpts
Thursday 7th September 2017

(3 years ago)

Commons Chamber
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Department for Exiting the European Union
Keir Starmer Portrait Keir Starmer - Hansard
7 Sep 2017, 1:28 p.m.

I am obviously a very bad communicator: I thought I was suggesting that workplace rights, environmental rights and consumer rights should only be capable of being taken away by primary legislation. If there is any doubt, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that when I say primary legislation I mean legislation in this House; I thought that was taken as read.

Baroness Morgan of Cotes Portrait Nicky Morgan (Loughborough) (Con) - Hansard

Does not the last intervention point to the fundamental misunderstanding that some have about this Bill—and I am afraid the Secretary of State mentioned it earlier? The point is whether the UK is going to become a rule-taker rather than a rule-maker. Our membership of the European Union has allowed us to influence the directives and regulations which have then been taken on board in this House and through our laws. What we are doing in this Bill—I will expand on this in my remarks—is not repealing, but reintroducing European legislation into this country, contrary to the intentions of those who wanted to leave the European Union.

Keir Starmer Portrait Keir Starmer - Hansard
7 Sep 2017, 1:29 p.m.

I am grateful for that intervention and agree with it.

May I move on to other rights, because they are dealt with more severely? Clause 5(4) singles out the charter of fundamental rights for extinction. There are thousands of provisions that are being converted into our law and will have to be modified in some cases to arrive in our law, but only one provision in the thousands and thousands has been singled out for extinction—the charter of fundamental rights. As the right hon. and learned Member for Beaconsfield (Mr Grieve) argued in an article published yesterday, the principles of the charter provide

“essential safeguards for individuals and businesses”.

That has been particularly important in the fields of LGBT rights, children’s rights and the rights of the elderly.

The Secretary of State asks why this matters. I have here the High Court judgment in the case of David Davis MP, Tom Watson MP and others v. the Secretary of State for the Home Department. This was in 2015, when the present Prime Minister was Home Secretary. David Davis the Back Bencher was bringing to court the now Prime Minister. He will recall that he was challenging the provisions of the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014. He was concerned that they would impinge on the ability of MPs to have confidential communications from their constituents. He continued to make that point in debates that we were having a year or two ago. In his argument, he cited the charter. His lawyers made the argument that the charter was important because it went further than the European convention on human rights and therefore provided added protection.

I will not read out paragraph 80 of the judgment, although I am sure that the Secretary of State is familiar with it. As he knows, the Court found in his favour—he was right: the charter did enhance his rights—and rejected the arguments of Mr Eadie, the distinguished QC representing the then Home Secretary, now the Prime Minister. So when the Secretary of State asks whether this move will make any difference, the answer is yes. We can see that from his case. I suspect that if he were still on the Back Benches, he would now be talking to me and others over a cup of coffee about how we should fiercely oppose clause 5(4) and ensure that it came out of the Bill.

Break in Debate

John Redwood Portrait John Redwood - Hansard
7 Sep 2017, 3:04 p.m.

I am afraid that time is now rather limited.

I am very much in favour of our Parliament making these decisions. The admirable principles we are discussing will often be reflected in British law. They are already reflected in many of the bits of legislation that are the subject of this Bill, and our judges will often be informed by them. If the judges start to use a principle that we do not like very much, it is in the hands of those of us who are in Parliament to issue new guidance to those judges— to say that we are creating more primary legislation to ensure that we have a bit more of this principle and a bit less of that—on our area of disagreement with them. In a democracy, it is most important that we have independent courts, but also that, ultimately, the sovereign people through their elected representatives can move the judges on by proper instruction; in our case, that takes the form of primary legislation.

Much has been made of how we implement whatever agreement we get, if we have an agreement, at the end of the now 19-month process in the run-up to our exit on 29 March. I think people are making heavy weather of this, because the main issue that will eventually be settled—I fear it will be settled much later than the press and Parliament would like—is how we will trade with our former partners on the date on which we depart.

There are two off-the-shelf models, either of which would work. In one, the EU decides, in the end, that it does not want tariffs on all its food products and cars coming into the UK market, and it does not want us creating new barriers against its very successful exports, so it agrees that we should register our existing arrangements as a free trade agreement at the World Trade Organisation. That would be a ready-made free trade agreement.

I do not think that there is time to make a special free trade agreement that is not as good as the one we have at the moment. Either we will have the current arrangements, as modified for WTO purposes, when we are outside the Union, or we will not. If we do not, we will trade on WTO terms when we are on the other side of the EU’s customs and tariff arrangements. We know exactly what that looks like, because that is how we trade with the rest of the world at the moment as an EU member.

The EU imposes very high tariff barriers on what would otherwise be cheaper food from the rest of the world, but if it decided on that option, its food would, of course, be on the wrong side of that barrier as well. We would have to decide how much we wanted to negotiate tariffs down for food from other countries around the world, which may offer us a better deal. It would be quite manageable; food is the only sector that would be badly affected by the tariff proposals under the WTO. More than half our trade would not be tariffable under WTO rules, and services obviously attract no tariffs. I have yet to hear any of the other member states recommend imposing tariffs on their trade with us, or recommend a series of new barriers to get in the way of other aspects of our trade. We will have to wait and see how that develops.

Baroness Morgan of Cotes Portrait Nicky Morgan - Hansard
7 Sep 2017, 3:07 p.m.

Is my right hon. Friend saying that one of the largest and most basic amounts of its income that any household spends—the part that it spends on food—could be affected by these proposals, but that that is okay?

John Redwood Portrait John Redwood - Hansard

I am saying that either way, we could get a good deal. If the EU decides that it wants to impose tariffs on its food exports to us, we will be able take tariffs off food that comes from other parts of the world. Under WTO rules, it is always possible to take tariffs off. We could start getting from the rest of the world food that is cheaper than that which we currently get from the EU, even though it does not attract tariffs. I want to look after customers.

The other thing is that if we just accepted the full WTO tariff rules, we would have about £12 billion of tariffs, and I would recommend that all of that £12 billion be given back to our consumers. They would be no worse off at all, because we would return the money to them. They might even be better off, if we did free trade deals that brought down the price of food from other parts of the world.

My final point to the Government is that there is an issue about how we decide the date of our departure. I think it is clear that our date of departure will be 29 March 2019. It will definitely be so if we do not have an agreement, which is still quite possible, but I think we should aim to make sure that we leave on that date even if we do have an agreement. We still have 19 months left, and that should be the transition for most of the things that need it. That is, surely, what the time is there to achieve. I recommend that we have the argument of substance over that date now, and that it be put in the Bill now. I recommend very strongly that we aim for 29 March 2019, because in one scenario that will be the date of our exit anyway, and in any other scenario it would be highly desirable.

People are always telling me that we need to reduce uncertainty. If we told them not only that all the laws would remain in place—getting rid of any uncertainty about the law—but that the date of our exit would definitely be 29 March 2019, we would have taken a lot of uncertainty out of the system. I think that that would be very welcome. I find that businesses now, on the whole, just want to get on with it. They are very realistic, and they want to know what they are planning for. They have got some of the details, but they want as many details as possible. If we put that firm date in, we would make it easier still, so I would recommend that change to the Government.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker Hansard

Thank you; many congratulations to the hon. Lady. The five-minute time limit is now restored.

Baroness Morgan of Cotes Portrait Nicky Morgan (Loughborough) (Con) - Hansard
7 Sep 2017, 3:34 p.m.

I congratulate the new hon. Member for Canterbury (Rosie Duffield) on an excellent and confident maiden speech. I was sorry to hear about the online abuse that she has already experienced but pleased to hear about the support she has received. She talked about unity and togetherness, and she might have found the House at a challenging time for such things, but we will hopefully find a way through these debates. Her predecessor was a doughty champion of the armed forces, about which he spoke often in this House.

So it starts—the real process for getting us out of the European Union. The Bill is needed. It is needed legally to disentangle us and to make many people really believe that we are actually going to leave the European Union, something that I have not had difficulty believing. Like many colleagues who share my views, I have been clear since 24 June 2016 that it was going to happen because, as the right hon. Member for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford (Yvette Cooper) said, we believe in democracy in this House of Commons. However, the Bill contains two major ironies. First, as was said earlier, it is not a repeal Bill but a reintroduction Bill, and those who wanted to get away from EU law now seek to bring it all over here. Secondly, those who wanted to take back control showed no concerns about the amount of Executive power that will be wielded as a result of the Bill until a number of the rest of us started to highlight such issues, and they now claim to be happy with the amendments that might be discussed in Committee.

In the limited time available, I want to draw attention to two parts of the Bill that have already been discussed. It is worth putting them on the record again so that Ministers are in no doubt about the parts of the Bill that they are going to have to discuss with colleagues throughout the House and agree amendments to if they want the Bill to pass. The first is the Henry VIII powers in clause 9, which could theoretically bite on the Bill itself and allow Ministers to amend the very legislation that the House is now debating and being asked to assent to. We might ask why we are going through the troublesome and time-consuming business of getting the Bill into shape when Ministers can use clause 9 to reverse the changes they dislike with speed, efficiency and a minimum of parliamentary oversight. The Secretary of State’s response to the right hon. Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn), the Chairman of the Exiting the European Union Committee, about the fact that the withdrawal agreement should not be implemented until this House has had its say, is incredibly important.

Anna Soubry Hansard
7 Sep 2017, 3:38 p.m.

Will my right hon. Friend advise ardent leavers, possibly those on the Government Benches, that there is a real danger that the amount of money that might be paid to the European Union by way of what we call this divorce bill could be decided by the Government without report or redress in this place by virtue of clause 9?

Baroness Morgan of Cotes Portrait Nicky Morgan - Hansard
7 Sep 2017, 3:38 p.m.

I thank my right hon. Friend for that intervention. She is absolutely right. As a former EU budget Minister, I can say that money will be paid to the European Union, and I disagree fundamentally with the remarks of my right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (John Redwood). As one of our MEPs, Dan Hannan, said, this country pays what it owes. We have made financial commitments to the European Union until 2020, and we should pay what we owe. As the Secretary of State has said previously, we may well even decide to pay more towards some elements in order to have access to them, in particular Horizon 2020 and so on.

The second issue is the power for the Ministers to specify the date of the exit day, which will be subject to no parliamentary scrutiny procedure whatsoever. Interestingly, the Secretary of State started his remarks by saying that the Bill does not take us out of the European Union. I did think about intervening, but it was very early in his remarks and I thought that he might clarify things. The difficulty with what he says is that clause 1 baldly states:

“The European Communities Act 1972 is repealed on exit day.”

If the 1972 Act is repealed, the UK leaves the European Union, so if this Bill is passed and its provisions are enacted, we will leave the European Union. Article 50 is a process for giving notice to start the discussions. I am afraid that the Secretary of State was not correct about that.

Why does scrutiny of statutory instruments matter so much? I suspect that Members have been having discussions with businesses and others who rely on EU law to go about what they do, and they are telling us very clearly that what will make their life easier and a transition possible is regulatory convergence, which means sticking to the regulations and rules we have been following for years, whether we are talking about pharmaceutical companies, financial services companies, food exporters, farmers, universities or many other different sectors.

To those who seek to say that we have been rule takers, not rule makers, I say that successive Ministers, including me, have sat at the European Council table and had those debates. The point is that if we want to have regulatory convergence after March 2019, which is what we are hearing, we will have to take the rules without having had any influence on them.

Finally, I am a proud parliamentarian, and the maiden speech of the hon. Member for Canterbury has just reminded me of how special it is to be elected to this place. Parliamentary scrutiny is not an affront to democracy; it is its very essence. The true saboteurs of Brexit are those who would sanction the exclusion of Parliament from this process. The debate on this Bill has only just started.

Sir George Howarth Portrait Mr George Howarth (Knowsley) (Lab) - Hansard
7 Sep 2017, 3:41 p.m.

I, too, congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury (Rosie Duffield) on a speech that was fluent, forceful and, at the same time, generous to her predecessor. Her speech has also made me determined me to visit Canterbury, which sounds such a delightful place.

I have a few points: on why people voted to leave in the referendum; on where the Bill stands in relation to why people voted to leave; and on how all the other aspects of Brexit are going, and how they relate back to why people voted as they did. There may be other areas, but there are three that I think are most relevant. First, people voted to restore the sovereignty of the United Kingdom. However they define that sovereignty, the issue was certainly debated forcefully, and it was occasionally raised on the doorstep—I use the word “occasionally” advisedly.

Secondly, people voted to restore some kind of economic independence. People felt that we were spending too much money in Europe and that we would be better off outside, where we could negotiate better trade arrangements with the rest of the world—everything in the garden would be rosy. Thirdly, the issue most commonly raised with me on the doorstep was immigration.

I will briefly address those three points. On the first issue of sovereignty, the hon. Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) and the right hon. Member for Wokingham (John Redwood) can dance on the head of a pin all they want about what the Bill actually does but, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer) so forensically demonstrated, the Bill is a transfer of power from Parliament and towards the Executive. That certainly is not what the people in my constituency voted for.

Secondly, on economic independence, apart from the fact that it will potentially cost us £70 billion just to walk away, people did not vote for a worse trade deal and for worse economic relationships within the European community. Okay, I accept that the Prime Minister says, “You can’t leave and, at the same time, be a member of the single market. You cannot leave and, at the same time, be a member of the customs union.” I am sure she is right, but let us be honest about what we know the Government are seeking to do.