The Wicked Witch visits the Lords
Privy Councillors have the right to listen to proceedings in the House of Lords sitting on the steps up to the Throne. Teresa May, who is, of course, a Privy Councillor made use of that privilege yesterday to listen to the Lords debate on the Brexit Bill. It is said to be the first time in living memory that a Prime Minister has attended a debate on a bill before the Upper House. The Witch managed to give a quite good impression of a headmistress listening to the proceedings of a school debating society with a view to shutting it down.
The Guardian has a good report of the first day of the Lords Debate headed by a good picture of Mrs May on the steps of the throne: “Peers prepare to push for Brexit bill changes despite PM’s Lords appearance – Theresa May’s decision to sit in the chamber during debate seen as a warning to those in the House where Tories do not hold majority“.
The Telegraph has this report with some rather helpful diagrams showing how bills get through Parliament: “Brexit: How might the Lords disrupt the Bill, what happens if they do and when will Article 50 be triggered?”
It is the constitutional duty and right of the House of Lords to amend the bill if they see fit – and if they do then the House of Commons can consider the amendments and accept or reject them.- a process known as “Parliamentary Ping-Pong”.
The Financial Times has this report: “Theresa May peers over Lords’ shoulders on Brexit – PM takes unusual step of watching upper house debate Article 50 bill in person“.
Most commentators consider that there will be at two amendments which will find favour in the Upper House: (1) an amendment guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and (2) an amendment giving parliament a “meaningful vote” on the proposed Brexit deal – effectively giving MPs and peers the chance to send Mrs May back to Brussels to seek a better deal.
The Financial Times has a good article on the issues relating to continued free movement: “Millions of expats caught in Brexit no man’s land – Negotiating a deal to secure citizen rights faces numerous obstacles“.
Both of these amendments would improve the bill but it is probable that the Wicked Witch of Westminster would seek to overturn them in the Commons, because she wishes the Executive rather than Parliament to have control of the Brexit process – this despite the Article 50 opinion presented to the House of Lords.
The House of Lords will continue the 2nd reading of the bill today and thereafter it will go to its committee stage when the amendments tabled (see the List) will be considered and voted upon.
Debate on the Trump Visit
The Guardian reports on this: “MPs pour scorn on ‘racist and sexist’ Donald Trump in state visit debate – Three-hour debate on whether invitation to US president should be revoked comes after 1.8 million people sign petition“.
There was the expected demonstration outside Parliament and, while it was made clear in the ministerial response to the debate that the invitation stood, is is increasingly clear that the visit will not be popular with many people and that it will be hard to organise so as to produce the sort of favourable TV courage the Mr Toad craves. Still, HM the Queen has had to host some pretty obnoxious heads of state in the course of her long reign – see the Wikipedia list of the 109 state visits to date – one more will hardly matter.