European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill: Commons stages

09 April 2019

The European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill received Royal Assent on Monday 8 April, after being fast-tracked through both Houses of Parliament. It becomes the European Union (Withdrawal) (No.5) Act 2019.

Consideration of Lords Amendments

On Monday 8 April 2019, the House of Lords returned the Bill to the House of Commons with five amendments. The House of Commons debated these amendments for an hour before accepting them all, and rejecting amendments to the amendments at division.

The most significant change means that the statement required to be made the day after the Bill becomes law can be made by any minister of the crown, instead of specifying the Prime Minister.

In line with the provisions of the Act, the House of Commons will debate a motion seeking Parliamentary approval for an extension to the Article 50 period on Tuesday 9 April.

Previous Commons stages

This Bill was fast-tracked through Parliament and, as such, all Commons stages took place on one day.

Business of the House motion

Before considering the Bill itself, MPs debated a business of the House motion in the name of Sir Oliver Letwin. This motion needed Commons approval in order for the Bill to be considered.

The motion itself passed by one vote - 312 to 311.

An amendment in the name of Hilary Benn, which would have secured Monday 8 April for more indicative votes on Brexit options, resulted in a 310 to 310 tie. The Speaker cast the deciding vote against the amendment, "on the principle that important decisions should not be taken except by a majority".

Second Reading

The House of Commons voted 315 to 310 to approve the second reading of the Bill.

Committee of the whole House

MPs then considered the Bill in a Committee of the whole House. At this point they considered a range of proposed amendments and new clauses. Four of these were taken to division and all four were rejected by the House.

Report stage and Third Reading

The House of Commons approved the third reading of the Bill by one vote - 313 to 312. The Bill will now go to the House of Lords for further consideration.

European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill

Summary of the Bill

The European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill 2017-19 was introduced in the Commons on 2 April 2019. The Bill would create a legal mechanism whereby the House of Commons can instruct the Prime Minister to ask the European Council for an extension to Article 50 in the absence of an approval resolution for an exit deal from the EU.

This Bill seeks to restrict the Prime Minister’s discretion about whether and when to seek an extension to the two-year negotiating period under Article 50(3) TEU.

The day after the day on which this Bill gets Royal Assent, the Prime Minister would have to table a motion. This motion must seek Commons approval for a proposal that the UK asks the European Council for an extension to Article 50. The motion must set out the Prime Minister’s preferred extension date.

Keep up to date with all the proceedings and documentation, including amendment papers, on the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill and find out how a Bill becomes an Act of Parliament.

House of Commons Library analysis

The House of Commons Library produces briefing papers to inform MPs and their staff of key issues. The papers contain factual information and a range of opinions on each subject, and aim to be politically impartial.

The Library has published a briefing paper for the Bill.

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