Monday 20 March 2017

Resistance to Brexit

This weekend will see a national demonstration to protest many aspects of the imminent triggering of Article 50.

A number of organisations are involved. For a better understanding of why people are moved to march do visit the websites of

Unite for Europe

The European Movement

Open Britain

New Europeans

Friday 10 March 2017

Art 50 Library

Article 50 may well be triggered in the coming days - after the European Union (Notice of Withdrawal) Bill has received the Royal Assent - and that can only happen when "ping-pong" is concluded between the two Houses of Parliament. It is going to an interested week ahead! 

The House of Commons website states - "The House of Commons will now consider these amendments made by the Lords - a period that is known as ping pong. Time has been set aside on Monday 13 and, if necessary, Tuesday 14 and Wednesday 15 March 2017 for the consideration of Lords amendments."This post links to some of the key documents about Article 50.

HL Constitution Committee - The invoking of Article 50
House of Commons Library Papers on Art 50 - Brexit reading list: Legal and Constitutional issues pp 5 - 7 (with excellent links to useful documents and articles)

The Exiting the EU Committee has published two reports to date -

The process for exiting the European Union and the Government’s negotiating objectivesavailable here.

and The Government’s negotiating objectives: the rights of UK and EU citizens - available here.

The EU Committee in the House of Lords has published a number of reports on specific issues - and the list, with links to download the reports (for free) can be accessed here.

Thursday 9 March 2017

Budget Documents

The speech that the Chancellor gave in the House of Commons is available here. Yesterday,s Hansard - with the debate which started immediately afterwards is available here. The debate will continue today, resume on Monday 14th and conclude on Tuesday 15th March.

Documents related to the Budget, published by HM Treasury are available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/spring-budget-2017-documents. These include

The Red Book - which includes the Budget Report and the Office of Budget Responsibility's Budget forecasts.

More details on the policies and impacts of budget measures are also available through the above link.

In summary, the Government makes the following claims about its' approach -

"As the UK begins the formal process of exiting the European Union, the Spring Budget puts economic stability first. Following a period of robust economic growth, record levels of employment and a falling deficit, it sets out further progress in restoring the public finances to health. Building on the Industrial Strategy, it goes further in tackling the UK’s productivity challenge.

The Budget sets out actions the government will take to:

* help young people from ordinary working families across the country get the skills they need to do the high-paid, high-skilled jobs of the future, vital for a competitive workforce

* give more children the chance to go to a good or outstanding school that sets them up to succeed

* support the social care system with substantial additional funding, so people get the care they deserve as they grow older, and support both local NHS plans and improvements to Accident and Emergency with new capital investment

* invest in cutting-edge technology and innovation, so Britain continues to be at the forefront of the global technology revolution

*continue to bring down the deficit so the UK gets back to living within its means, and can fund public services for the long-term through a fair and sustainable tax system

By investing in the future, the Budget helps make the most of the opportunities ahead by laying the foundations of a stronger, fairer, better Britain – a country that works for everyone.

The Spring Budget also marks the transition to a single fiscal event each year, an autumn Budget."

Analysis of the budget can be found at

Professor Michael-Gad, City University, London

Tuesday 7 March 2017

Edmund Burke - on the duties of an MP

Edmund Burke, Speech to the Electors of Bristol3 Nov. 1774Works 1:446--48 

I am sorry I cannot conclude without saying a word on a topic touched upon by my worthy colleague. I wish that topic had been passed by at a time when I have so little leisure to discuss it. But since he has thought proper to throw it out, I owe you a clear explanation of my poor sentiments on that subject.

He tells you that "the topic of instructions has occasioned much altercation and uneasiness in this city;" and he expresses himself (if I understand him rightly) in favour of the coercive authority of such instructions.

Certainly, gentlemen, it ought to be the happiness and glory of a representative to live in the strictest union, the closest correspondence, and the most unreserved communication with his constituents. 

Their wishes ought to have great weight with him; their opinion, high respect; their business, unremitted attention. It is his duty to sacrifice his repose, his pleasures, his satisfactions, to theirs; and above all, ever, and in all cases, to prefer their interest to his own. But his unbiassed opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you, to any man, or to any set of men living. These he does not derive from your pleasure; no, nor from the law and the constitution. They are a trust from Providence, for the abuse of which he is deeply answerable. Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.

My worthy colleague says, his will ought to be subservient to yours. If that be all, the thing is innocent. If government were a matter of will upon any side, yours, without question, ought to be superior. But government and legislation are matters of reason and judgment, and not of inclination; and what sort of reason is that, in which the determination precedes the discussion; in which one set of men deliberate, and another decide; and where those who form the conclusion are perhaps three hundred miles distant from those who hear the arguments?

To deliver an opinion, is the right of all men; that of constituents is a weighty and respectable opinion, which a representative ought always to rejoice to hear; and which he ought always most seriously to consider. But authoritative instructions; mandates issued, which the member is bound blindly and implicitly to obey, to vote, and to argue for, though contrary to the clearest conviction of his judgment and conscience,--these are things utterly unknown to the laws of this land, and which arise from a fundamental mistake of the whole order and tenor of our constitution.

Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests; which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates; but parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole; where, not local purposes, not local prejudices, ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole. You choose a member indeed; but when you have chosen him, he is not member of Bristol, but he is a member of parliament. If the local constituent should have an interest, or should form an hasty opinion, evidently opposite to the real good of the rest of the community, the member for that place ought to be as far, as any other, from any endeavour to give it effect. I beg pardon for saying so much on this subject. I have been unwillingly drawn into it; but I shall ever use a respectful frankness of communication with you. Your faithful friend, your devoted servant, I shall be to the end of my life: a flatterer you do not wish for.

The Lords - and the Report and 3rd Reading of the Brexit Bill.

Today the House of Lords will proceed to the Report Stage, and then the 3rd Reading of the European Union (Notice of Withdrawal) Bill. If these are completed, then the Bill will be returned to the Commons for "Ping Pong".

The Bill has been republished, since it was amended at the Committee Stage by the Lords. The new version is available at


The marshalled list for the Report Stage (which is useful for following the debate - because it gives the number and the text of each amendment) is available at


The Report Stage will consider amendments while the Third Reading is on the motion "That this bill be now read a third time". Further amendments could be taken at 3rd Reading  provided the issue has not been fully considered and voted on during either committee or report stage - but as the two stages are separated by a only a short debate on another matter, this is going to be difficult. Amendments at third reading are normally used to clarify specific parts of the bill and to allow the government to make good any promises of changes they made at earlier stages of the passage of a bill.

The Day's business is set out at http://calendar.parliament.uk/calendar/Lords/All/2017/3/7/Daily. The House is due to start sitting at 11.00, and move straight into the Report Stage. There will be a break for questions from about 2.30 to 3.00.  (The Order Paper will be available at http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/business-papers/lords/lords-business/#session=28&year=2017&month=2&day=7 [If it is not yet available, it should be up by 08.00am - I am publishing this extra early today]

As ever - live and recorded video is available at http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/10b26caa-43e2-4e01-84ad-b13169f7351c

Wednesday 1 March 2017

Wednesday - Final day of Lords Ctte stage of Brexit Bill

If you wish to follow the final day of Lords Committee Stage of the European Union (Notice of Withdrawal) Bill today - it will be online at http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/708e9efa-beac-4dbf-b201-a2d52a057372 - The House will meet at 3pm and take prayers first (not broadcast) then there will be four questions lasting about 30 minutes.

The "order paper" for the day's business in the House of Lords can be found at https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201617/minutes/170301/ldorderpaper.pdf

Statues high on the walls of the Chamber represent the Lords who forced King John to concede the Magna Carta in 1215.

Documents relating to the European Union (Notice of Withdrawal) Bill can be accessed on http://services.parliament.uk/…/europeanunionnotificationof…

The key to use are

* the Bill itself, https://www.publications.parliament.uk/…/201…/0103/17103.pdf 

* the explanatory notes,  https://www.publications.parliament.uk/…/2…/0103/17103en.pdf  and

* the Marshalled list of amendments (Amendments will be referred to by the number on that list) https://www.publications.parliament.uk/…/0…/17103-I(Rev).pdf

(If you are in the UK, and a TV Licence holder you can watch part 1 of the series "Meet the Lords" at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08h4k1k/meet-the-lords-series-1-1-joining-the-club