This House of Lords Library Briefing has been prepared in advance of the second reading of the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill in the House of Lords on 5 September 2019. The Briefing sets out the main points of the Bill and summarises its passage through the House of Commons.
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On 4 September 2019, Hilary Benn (Labour MP for Leeds Central) introduced the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill in the House of Commons. The bill is a private member’s bill, formally supported by several independent MPs as well as MPs from all opposition parties. The purpose of the bill is to ensure that the UK does not leave the EU on the 31 October 2019 without a withdrawal agreement, unless Parliament approves such a course of action. The bill provides that if that the House of Commons has not approved (and the House of Lords has not had the opportunity to debate) either a withdrawal agreement with the EU or a statement that the UK is to leave the EU without an agreement, the Prime Minister is obliged to ask the European Council for an extension to Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union. The bill also requires the Prime Minister to accept such an extension if it is offered.
The bill would require the Government to make regular reports to Parliament on the progress of negotiations with the EU, and also makes provisions relating to the date of exit in UK law.
The bill was amended in committee in the House of Commons. The amendment added a statement to the bill setting out that the intention of the request for an extension to article 50 was to pass a withdrawal agreement bill. One other amendment was defeated on division.
On 5 September 2019, Lord Ashton of Hyde, Government Chief Whip, announced in the House of Lords that a business of the House motion would be tabled later that morning to ensure that the bill completes all its stages in the House of Lords by 5pm on 6 September 2019.