All 3 Baroness Deech contributions to the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020

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Wed 15th Jan 2020
European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
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Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee stage:Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Mon 20th Jan 2020
European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
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Report stage & Report stage:Report: 1st sitting & Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords & Report: 1st sitting: House of Lords & Report: 1st sitting & Report: 1st sitting: House of Lords
Wed 22nd Jan 2020
European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill
Lords Chamber

Consideration of Commons amendmentsPing Pong (Hansard) & Consideration of Commons amendments & Ping Pong (Hansard): House of Lords & Ping Pong (Hansard) & Ping Pong (Hansard): House of Lords

European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill Debate

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Department: Scotland Office

European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

Baroness Deech Excerpts
Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard) & Committee stage & Committee: 2nd sitting (Hansard): House of Lords
Wednesday 15th January 2020

(4 years, 4 months ago)

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Lord Howarth of Newport Portrait Lord Howarth of Newport
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My Lords, I also serve on the Constitution Committee and share the concerns expressed by my noble friend Lady Taylor and the noble Lord, Lord Beith. The relationship between the Executive, the judiciary and the legislature is a matter of some current controversy. The Executive have been stunned by the judgment made in the Supreme Court in the autumn, and I suspect that in part we are seeing a somewhat petulant response to that circumstance.

At all events, what is proposed in this legislation is a gross intrusion by the Executive into the proper realm of the judiciary. The Executive complain that the judiciary has extended itself excessively into its role; we are now seeing a retaliation on a major scale. Whatever practical motivation otherwise that may have caused the Government to write new subsection (5A)(b) into this clause, it is a foolish initiative on the part of the Government.

This is territory in which the Government ought to walk delicately, like Agag. It sets an appalling precedent, and it intrudes into the proper role of Parliament, because it is not appropriate. Even if it were appropriate for Ministers to interfere at all in this realm of judicial discretion, it is not appropriate for Ministers to do it by regulation. Such decisions ought to be made by Parliament in primary law, ensuring that the sort of very important principles which the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich, has suggested might be interfered with by Ministers under the terms of this legislation cannot be dealt with in this kind of way.

Baroness Deech Portrait Baroness Deech (CB)
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My Lords, I am puzzled by some of the issues that have been raised by this amendment. First, only a year or two ago, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Neuberger, then president, called for Parliament to tell our judges clearly how rulings of the CJEU are to be dealt with after Brexit. Apparently our noble and learned friend did not see any difficulty about that.

Secondly, to tell courts that they are not bound by something does not mean that they will not follow it. If they are not bound, they may well still choose to follow it if they think it is good law. There are indeed many instances where the Court of Justice of the European Union has not produced good law: for example, over the secret nature of MEPs' expenses, on genetically modified crops and on diplomatic immunity. This is not surprising, because it is a court very unlike our own type of court. Its judges are nominated by sending countries for six years—they have only a six-year tenure. They have enormous salaries and expenses, and I am sure that they are reluctant to lose them after six years, and anxious to be renominated.

There are of course no dissenting judgments. Many of the so-called judges are not judges at all. They have been professors—obviously, I have great admiration for professors—and civil servants, with of course the exception of the British judge. So I am a little sceptical about this court. I think people sometimes confuse it with the European Court of Human Rights. We hear much talk that, if we depart from the rulings of the CJEU, our human rights will be affected. That is not the issue today.

I ask those who put forward this amendment what they mean, or envisage, by binding and not following, and why they think it would be better for citizens to have to go all the way to to the Supreme Court, with all the delay and expense—and lots of nice jobs for lawyers—that will be involved if you can only get a diversion from EU law by going all the way to the Supreme Court.

European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill Debate

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Department: Northern Ireland Office

European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

Baroness Deech Excerpts
Report stage & Report stage (Hansard): House of Lords & Report: 1st sitting: House of Lords & Report: 1st sitting
Monday 20th January 2020

(4 years, 4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Cashman Portrait Lord Cashman (Non-Afl)
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My Lords, as in Committee, I speak in support of this amendment. I previously served on the EU Justice Sub-Committee, where we undertook a long inquiry into this very issue. We were reassured neither by the then Home Secretary nor by the officials from the Home Office. It seems absolutely clear that the two systems are complementary: we have nothing to lose by running them together and everything to gain by doing the right thing and leading on this issue, and making people feel that after 31 January—bongs or not—they belong in our country.

Baroness Deech Portrait Baroness Deech (CB)
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My Lords, like several previous speakers, I too have been a member of the EU Justice Sub-Committee. We questioned Ministers on this, and their answers about there being no need for physical proof have been very unconvincing. They show a touching belief in the power of digital and wi-fi, yet all of us know that, at moments of stress, and in places such as airports, schools and hospitals, it is extremely unlikely that the internet will work properly. I cannot see why a simple piece of paper or a little card should not be issued to everyone who has successfully applied.

As for the point made by the noble Viscount, Lord Ridley, in fact we all have ID cards of one sort or another, as has been pointed out—it is just that the 3 million EU citizens are slightly less likely than the rest of us to have driving licences, national health cards and so on, and therefore are all the more in need of a small piece of paper or card to prove that they are entitled to be here. I therefore support this amendment.

Baroness Altmann Portrait Baroness Altmann (Con)
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My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend in the Government on their statement that there will be pragmatism in applying this system. However, what contingency plans are there or could there be in place should there be a major IT failure which prevents somebody, for example, who wants to rent a flat, being able to prove digitally that they have indefinite leave to remain? Maybe the department could consider that further.

European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill Debate

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Department: Department for Exiting the European Union

European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

Baroness Deech Excerpts
Consideration of Commons amendments & Ping Pong (Hansard): House of Lords & Ping Pong (Hansard)
Wednesday 22nd January 2020

(4 years, 4 months ago)

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Baroness Deech Portrait Baroness Deech (CB)
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My Lords, we note, sadly, that the so-called Dubs amendment has been rejected, but I am sure that many of us feel, like me, that the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, will go down in history as a champion for refugee children and that he is an outstanding example of the contribution that can be made to British life by admitting a refugee child.

Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle Portrait Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle (GP)
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My Lords, I express the Green group’s very strong disappointment about the decisions made earlier today in the other place. We sent them constructive amendments that aimed to protect those whom the Government themselves recognise as the most vulnerable people in society; to retain our close ties with the continent of Europe after we Brexit; to keep hard-won protections; and to recognise the established conventions of the power of the devolved institutions. We spent five days presenting powerful arguments for those amendments. I do not intend to rehearse any of them here. Rather, I present to the House three practical arguments for a way forward that the House might not currently be planning to take.

My first practical argument is about the past five days. We have all worked very hard. We have presented the arguments and argued the case. As the noble Baroness said, the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, has worked astonishingly hard and deserves the highest levels of credit. But we are potentially looking at the coming five years. I am not one who believes that we will suddenly see an outbreak of stability in Britain that means we will see five years of stable government—but it is possible that we will. So I ask your Lordships’ House to consider what it will be like if we spend five years working like we just have for the past five days and then get to the point again and again of not being listened to. Do we want simply to bow down and allow that to happen again and again?

My second practical argument is that we are not going against the Salisbury convention. Nothing here reflects what was in the election that was just held—the election in which 44% of people voted for a Tory Government and 56% of people did not.

My third practical suggestion is not to be what might be described as recalcitrant, but to pick one of these amendments to say to the Commons, “Please listen to the powerful arguments and think about the impact of your actions.” I am of course referring to the amendment that the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, put forward. We could hold the line on that one amendment. I ask noble Lords to think about what the impact of that might be. We are talking about people whom the Government agree are the most vulnerable children on the planet.

As we have heard in the debates, we know that lots of those children have made their way to Britain through irregular, dangerous and sometimes deadly means. A couple of years ago, I went to a memorial service for a young man who died in the back of a lorry. He had the right to come to Britain, but felt that he could not exercise that right and died as a result. I ask noble Lords to think about the message that us bowing down on the Dubs amendment will send to children in Europe today. They need to know that there are people in Britain, in the Houses of Parliament, who are on their side. So I ask your Lordships to consider our way forward, and to consider standing up for those children.