09 MAR 2017

Brexit and The Lords

Kent Messenger Column - 09-03-17

The House of Lords is in the headlights once again, this time on two separate fronts. Our Upper Chamber is the subject of a current BBC2 documentary 'Meet the Lords', and more vitally the Brexit legislation (which will allow the Prime Minister to trigger the process) is currently under consideration there.

Both have created controversy, demonstrated by a flurry of differing views in my postbag and on the doorstep in Maidstone & The Weald. Whilst some are shouting once again for 'Lords Reform' (which is an important and separate debate) evidentially there is a need for greater public understanding of 'The Other Place' (as MPs customarily refer to it).

Our Peers bring considerable knowledge to the scrutinising, amending and drafting of legislation. Together they harbour a wealth of experience across all aspects of Government and society. Many are 'cross-benchers' without the skew of party political alliance, and their presence certainly makes for the creation of better, safer, more effective legislation.

The recent spat over our Judiciary holding the government to account on the procedural approach to Brexit was a vilifying storm in a Daily Mail teacup. In fact the Supreme Court performed a vital check and balance in our democratic process and likewise the Lords too must now run due diligence.

There is concern that their amendments will create unnecessary delay if the issues are ping-ponged between the two Houses of Parliament but I am confident that this will pass without too many exchanges.

Our noble Lords are fully aware of the instructions given by a majority of the British people in June last year. On the 8th February the 'Notification of Withdrawal Bill' (allowing the government to trigger Article 50) sailed through the Commons by 494 votes to 122, adding further weight to the motion. The message to our revising chamber, therefore, could not be more clear: Do your thing, but don't overstep the mark.

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As of 9th March 2017, the Kent Messenger will be published on every Thursday rather than Friday.

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