Lords examines European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill

16 March 2017

The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill receives Royal Assent on Thursday 16 March.

Royal Assent

The bill receives Royal Assent on Thursday 16 March. Royal Assent is the monarch's agreement to make the Bill into an Act and is a formality. When Royal Assent has been given, an announcement is made in both Houses – by the Lord Speaker and the Speaker in the Commons.

What's happened so far?

Consideration of Commons amendments: Monday 13 March

Members of the Lords discussed guaranteeing the rights of EU and EEA citizens resident in the UK and Parliament's approval for the deal with the EU.

There were two divisions (votes) on proposed changes to the bill.

Members of the Lords discussed a change that required the prime minister to guarantee the rights of EU and EEA citizens legally resident in the UK after Brexit. 135 voted for and 274 voted against, so the change was not made.

Members then voted on a change requiring parliamentary approval for the outcome of negotiations with the EU. 118 members voted in favour and 274 voted against, so the change was not made.

The EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill has now completed its journey through the Houses of Parliament.

Lords report stage and third reading: Monday 6 March

Report stage and third took place on the same day, which is unusual in the House of Lords.

Members discussed a national referendum to approve an agreement with the EU, regular progress updates to Parliament throughout the negotiations, Parliament's approval for the deal with the EU and the right of Northern Irish people to claim Irish citizenship.

At report stage there were two divisions (votes) on proposed changes (amendments) to the draft law, and at third reading there was one division on a change to a motion.

The first vote was on a change to require a national referendum to approve an agreement with the EU. 131 members voted in favour and 336 voted against, so the change was not made.

The second vote was on a change requiring parliamentary approval for the outcome of negotiations with the EU. 366 members voted in favour and 268 voted against, so the change was made. This is the largest vote in the House of Lords on record, with a turnout of 634 members.

Members considered a change to the motion 'that this bill do now pass', that would have altered the motion to leave out all words after ‘that’, and insert ‘this House declines to allow the bill to pass, because the bill does not provide a mechanism for the people of the UK to have a vote, prior to the UK’s departure from the EU, on the terms of the new relationship between the UK and the EU.’

This would have stopped the bill from passing. There was a vote on this change, with 95 members voting for it and 340 members against. This meant that the change to the motion was not made and the bill passed its third reading in the Lords.

The bill then returned to the Commons for consideration of Lords amendments.

Lords committee stage day two: Wednesday 1 March

Members discussed a change to guarantee the rights of EU and EEA citizens legally resident in the UK after Brexit. 358 voted for and 256 against so the change was made. This was the second largest House of Lords vote on record since 1999. Members also discussed the effect of EU withdrawal on environmental regulation and the involvement of devolved administrations in withdrawal negotiations.

Lords committee stage day one: Monday 27 February

Members discussed issues including Northern Ireland and approval of the negotiations outcome. Members voted on a proposed change requiring the prime minister to negotiate on the basis of the UK retaining membership of the single market: 136 for and 299 against so the change was not made.

Lords second reading: Tuesday 21 February

Members taking part included:

  • Lord Lamont of Lerwick (Conservative), former chancellor of the exchequer and chairman of Vote Leave
  • Lord Tugendhat (Conservative), former vice-president of the European Commission
  • Lord Kerr of Kinlochard (Crossbench), former UK ambassador to the EU, former head of the UK diplomatic service and author of Article 50
  • Lord Pannick (Crossbench), QC, barrister in the Article 50 appeal case at the UK Supreme Court
  • Lord Giddens (Labour), member of the Council for the Future of Europe
  • Baroness Smith of Basildon (Labour), shadow Leader of the House of Lords
  • Lord Newby (Liberal Democrat), Liberal Democrat Leader in the House of Lords

Members of the Lords discussed future UK trade options, police and security cooperation with EU member states, Northern Ireland and the Good Friday Agreement and parliamentary scrutiny of the negotiation process.

184 members took part, making this the largest second reading debate on record. This second reading debate took place over two days, the 28th time since 1945 this has happened in the House of Lords.

Lord Bridges of Headley (Conservative), parliamentary under-secretary for the Department for Exiting the European Union, responded on behalf of the government.

Lords second reading: Monday 20 February

The debate was introduced by Baroness Evans of Bowes Park (Conservative), Leader of the House of Lords.

Members of the Lords discussed the outcome of the EU referendum and the subsequent process of leaving the EU, the government white paper on Brexit, the rights of EU citizens resident in the UK, UK membership of Euratom and possible amendments to the bill.

European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill summary

This bill will confer power on the Prime Minister to notify, under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union, the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the EU.

All parliamentary business is subject to change.

Further information

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