Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Lord Lilley:

    Before my noble friend concludes his remarks, can he reflect on the fact that the only remotely plausible argument against the case he has been making is a shortage of time, but some 900 days ago Parliament initiated the Article 50 process, which meant that from that point onwards it was the law of the land that we left the European Union with or without a withdrawal agreement? We have had some 900 days for Parliament, if it objected to the second option, to legislate in the way it is now trying to do at the last minute to prevent that option. For them to claim after 900 days that there is a shortage of time is implausible at best.

    Lord True:

    My noble friend is entirely right. I had started to say that there is a difference of opinion across the House, but surely that means that there should be an independent judgment on the propriety of this procedure. We in this House all accept the wisdom of our cross-party committees. Why should it not be put to the Constitution Committee whether this kind of procedure is conducive to the good operation of our constitution and parliamentary government?

    I remember that when the European withdrawal Bill was going through, not so very long ago, my noble friend Lord Taylor of Holbeach, who was then the Chief Whip of our party, was constantly put under pressure by some people on our side—I was not one of them because I detest the idea of a guillotine—to constrain proceedings. No one would say that certain Peers in this House were short of words during proceedings on that Act. However, my noble friend did not do that. He had the power but did not use it to constrain the House. Unfortunately, today we are seeing that the other side have a different view.

    All my amendment asks is that an independent verdict be sought from the Constitution Committee on whether it is a good thing—