Peers were advised, apparently, to take a camp bed into the House of Lords, if necessary, the night before to ensure their presence on Tuesday where they debated and voted first of all on Amendment 1 to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill at the report stage.
The Amendment means that any deal to exit the EU must be approved by a second national referendum.
It has to be said that the average member of the public would be more in need of taking some sleep, whilst the same issues are regurgitated, and regurgitated then regurgitated further.
There were some intellectual submissions such as:
The Government acted without need of countless referendum in respect of World Wars and the dropping of the atom bomb.
There was no caveat when the Referendum last year was agreed in Parliament, no Amendments or rules of Procedure raised.
(Note: As you, the reader, and this writer may put it – no questions were asked, e.g. Can we get back to you time and time again if we do not like your answers?)
Others outlined how EU countries must be rubbing their hands with glee because of various potential options, such as (1) When the UK had left the EU they could get on with their real aim of creating a Federal State; (2) They may offer such a terrible deal to the UK so that the issue will have to be put to the people in another referendum, but knowing they will turn it down and choose to stay in the EU after all; (3) The EU no more wanted the UK to leave, than they wished to have a hole in their head, but if they did leave, under a bad deal, or no deal, then it would be a warning to others countries in the EU.
One Noble Lord – who was always prone to giving very long speeches when he was in ‘the Other Place’, was reminded by the Speaker to address the point under discussion only.
A different Noble Lord said of an earlier and different speaker, ‘he had just silly-arsed – why not answer the question regarding number of referendum being sought’.
Another key point related to the original referendum vote in 1975 by the then Prime Minister Edward Heath, and that 41 years later was the next chance, yet already there are those wanting a repeat of last year’s Referendum.
Also, (and this is so true), voters in 1975 had no insight into what the world would become yet they kept moving onwards with their lives whilst the Common Market, EU and any other references thereof changed and its membership tripled.
In those days there were no Amendments in this way, very little by way of debate and knowledge on issues as there are now, as had been for months prior to last year’s referendum.
(Note: No Parliamentary Scrutiny, challenges or High Court Cases).
Voters are now younger which was not the case then, yet there are those saying 16 year olds were not allowed to vote last year.
Generally, voices are now demanding we have full disclosure of our future almost before Brexit commences.
If those who lived through WWI and WWII and conflicts since had/have no option but to live for the moment, minute by minute as they were not promised the next, indeed, sadly, many millions had none.
Within the comments regarding wishing there were advance details of the divorce through Brexit from the EU a voice in the background could be heard saying ‘do you normally get that in a real divorce?’
One felt sorry for Lord Pearson, having missed a previous debate as when he began his contribution there were audible moans and he too was reminded by The Speaker to address the key points under discussion.
He began again, do you not wish me to explain, etc, and everyone said ‘No’ to which he continued ‘okay then, I will skip…’ to which cheers went up; and this happened another two times – I will also skip…(Cheers again), and I will skip…(more cheers).
To sum up this debating session therefore, Lord Pearson is the whipping boy as representative of UKIP being key initiators regarding a referendum for the people, (at the behest of the people, vindicated by the people at the voting boxes with a majority vote for the UK – a key point), but then the correct person should Mr Cameron, whose name is rarely mentioned, akin to a tacit amnesty of sorts. Quite telling. He promised Brexit the following day without any challenges from anywhere either inside or outside of Parliament.
It is blatantly obvious that all objections to the Bill that will now have to go back to the Other Place, are to hinder or overturn the democratic vote and so far, all that seems to concern dissenters is the single market, industrial trade, banks, etc, not ordinary individuals otherwise.
The priority is money, for its own sake and nest feathering maintenance or single market at all costs, (despite so many Commonwealth Countries and others queuing up to trade with the UK), whether via industry or EU residents in the UK with all roads leading to Rome.
No reference is ever made in respect of private individuals in other trades, retired, etc, nor to the fact current teenagers have no knowledge of the UK before Europe and there are those just as pleased.
A Division (vote) was called on this first Amendment.
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The next debate followed…
Peers voted on Amendment 3 to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill at report stage. Amendment 3 calls for a vote in both Houses of Parliament on the terms of the deal for the UK leaving the European Union.
Lord Howard of Lympne – Conservative, contributed in a powerful and succinct way in saying about the House of Commons:-
‘The other place will have its say, The other place will have its way; The UK will be leaving the EU either with an agreement or no agreement with the EU.’
He clarified political amendment(s) and lifetime questions which should be asked when Brexit is ended. Did they really want conflict between the two Political Houses and then between the Courts and Parliament?
The Right Reverend Peter Forster – Bishop of Chester, suggested people were not facing up to a fundamental debate of the Referendum itself and sensitive situation if Brexit is hindered and at the end, should no agreement be achieved, needing the will of the people again in another Referendum.
Lord Howell of Guildford – Conservative, made another excellent contribution in that some other discussion from within this debate recommending amendment(s) should consider that if there was no deal, there would be a vote of No Confidence – and that would mean new people – a general election, so all that was being discussed regarding amendments is irrelevant.
He went on to say the latest news he heard related to Spain and Poland wanting their own joint agreement distinct to the EU, and that even if the UK had to rely on WTO – that the benefits had not yet been discussed at all by the House and it had all sorts of advantages.
(Note: There was silence for a little while which I notice is typical when someone actually puts forward something which is so sensible it defies retort).
The Single Market in or out doesn’t matter as it has no significance. Past Century forecasting and predictions no longer applied, etc. Lord Howell added that we would be making fools of ourselves saying what to do two years hence.
Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws, Labour, said the Bill was a Notification and that it was not an Authorisation. She then went into the findings of the Court Hearings which was a little complex at times.
Earlier in the debate Baroness Kennedy inferred WTO had implications on citizens of this country regarding their rights as that would constitute aggregated changes so would have to be approved by Parliament. That was soon made into a redundant argument by others as outlined herein already. She was also challenged by Conservative Peers Lord Faulks and Lord Finkelstein. It was an Authorisation to trigger Article 50.
Lord Lawson of Blaby, Conservative, challenged Lord Pannick on his own contradiction.
Most Reverend John Sentamu, Archbishop of York, was humble in asking for edification to enable him to reach an informed decision.
A bit of a ding dong occurred when Lord Heseltine was told words to the effect that he could not grab the mace like a challenge in the other place. That remark got a roar.
Then another Peer was told that he was annoying the House, not just a Peer. One then said (with a smile) that it was beginning to be like the House of Commons.
After the remark about the Mace it seemed only appropriate that Lord Naseby contributed by saying that people knew what they had voted for and what it was about. They were fed up of all that was being put upon them and that the Amendment was defective on all four elements upon it.
He added that he trusted the Government to do their very best for ordinary voters. He has confidence in them. Rather sweetly, he concluded by adding that confidence is a delicate flower so he will not be voting for the amendments.
Baroness Stowell of Beeston – Conservative, made a wise remark in that she said people see us for or against and saw those against them as being anyone in Parliament – of both Houses. One male could be heard muttering ‘we are not here to appease what anyone thinks about us’. That itself seemed to be a contradiction in terms?
Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town – Opposition Spokesperson, came across reminiscent to the warning of the spider inviting the fly. She did not doubt the sincerity of Mrs May’s intentions yet still wanted the Amendment on the face of the Bill. Such a harmless thing to ask. The word ‘intention’ was what she didn’t like yet trusted the person who used it – mutually exclusive one would have thought. If so harmless a thing to want on the face of the Bill then why did she want it?
Lord Bridges of Headley, Exiting the EU Minister, summed up everything with his usual aplomb and said everything boils down to trust and reaffirmed already known reassurances and promises to update both Houses at the same time as issues that were put before the EU, he gave reassurances on all aspects but included that the Government needed a free hand to secure the best deal but added with a small joke…That Clause 4 (which always seemed reminiscent of Labour to him), goes beyond the House of Commons. In fact a few people had earlier challenged the same Clause in debate. He did say that the requirements of the Supreme Court and Miller had been met.
Division was as follows
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The final debate related to the special needs of Northern Ireland.
The opening remarks were made by Lord Hain with contributions from Baroness O’Neill, Crossbencher, who thought ID cards would be a sensible option as Noble Lords carry mobile phones and there is more about people on those. She expressed concerns about foot and mouth and swine flu in livestock as being a matter to be addressed. ID cards would be a useful thing to have when registering with GPs or buying a house/a company.
The Archbishop of York, Most Reverend John Sentanu explained that Northern Ireland citizens can apply for Irish Passports and be Members of the EU so were unique.
Lord Reid of Cardowa, Labour, was concerned that Northern Ireland would lose its influx of Academics and be at risk of black market activities again with border issues. He elaborated on the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. It was historic like a cameo within the cameo of the UK and all Ireland which had been underpinned by the EU.
Lord Eames – Crossbencher, made an emotional contribution; Northern Ireland would be the frontier of border UK. There would be questions of cultural, economic change, and security questions. Northern Ireland would be the first place to feel the effect of Brexit and ongoing consequences. He remarked on the peace and progress over the time since the Belfast Agreement/Good Friday Agreement. It was most moving to listen to his accounts.
When the impromptu enquiry was put to him as a swift interjection ‘suggesting to make special remit to stay with the EU’ in a most humble reply he said such a generous offer, it should not tie the hands of negotiators. The thought came to mind that the Scots and the Welsh would want a similar offer despite the fact that Northern Ireland had life and death issues that made them unique.
Baroness Suttie, Liberal Democrat, remarked how people in Northern Ireland also qualified for Irish Passports and that in turn made them part of the EU so they had all three elements. She wanted to know how things would work in practice and have special status in the EU.
Viscount Slim, Crossbencher, referred to British Soldiers (including Irish contingent therein), being prosecuted through the Courts.
Lord Reid said he tried to draw a line in the sand – three Noble Lords had made that endeavour some years ago but could not get a consensus across the board.
Amendment Leave to be Withdrawn.
Photo (c) Hazel Speed – used by kind permision to Tuck Magazine