Withdrawal Agreement Bill Reading

The regulations are clearly open to errors - and as has been said, the Home Office is in good shape in these areas. It has already raised problems, so it is essential that there be adequate and independent oversight. The independent authority was established in the withdrawal agreement, but Schedule 2 of the act makes it far from independent of the government. I hope that this issue will be revisited when the bill is moved to another location to ensure that the government cannot do its own homework. We should have had a useful vote on the agreement itself and, of course, it would have had to go through a amendable proposal before a final agreement was ratified. The lack of control over trade agreements is a relic of a bygone era. Today, trade agreements cross every element of our lives, from the food we eat to our environmental and labour standards, to the protection of public services such as the NHS, but it is upsetting that Members have less say in trade agreements than much narrower policy initiatives. Finally, and not least, we should have had a full impact assessment that would be available for proper verification. So far, the government has completely failed in its duty to assess the effects of Brexit. In the amendment I tabled yesterday, I proposed an independent body to examine the impact of a new agreement on climate change, human rights and the economy. It seems to me a pity that this amendment has been rejected. Some Members who do not like the WAB may decide to abstain, in the hope that they will be able to amend it in committee and report on it, and then make their final decision at third reading. The bill is introduced in the House of Commons for third reading after the committee phase, and then sent to the House of Lords before seeking royal approval to become law by January 31.

We currently like elections on this side of the House, but I will not get caught up in a reform of the House of Lords that goes a little further from the framework of the withdrawal agreement. I understand why the government has rejected some of the amendments that we have tabled and other opposition parties, but not all. Many have simply reinstated the government`s previous commitments, and others should improve the bill; No one should thwart Brexit. During the brief debate on the bill in committee, we, as an opposition, addressed five major issues that we believe reflect the serious problems both of the withdrawal agreement and the way in which the government decided to implement it. More than 100 amendments have been tabled in committee, but no word of the law has changed and that is why we will vote today against its third reading. When I listened to Mr Paterson`s speech, which was present until a minute or two ago, I was surprised by what he said about the fishing industry and the opportunities that would be open to him outside the common fisheries policy.