Last week saw the biggest debate on a parliamentary bill in the House of Lords on record. 184 peers spoke – the most ever – spread over two days: only the 28th time that has happened since the end of the War almost three-quarters of a century ago.
This week, the Government’s Brexit bill returns to the Lords and that means we have another big opportunity to lobby them. This post sets out what’s happening & what you can do.
We are thankfully starting to see the Lords flex their muscles. Take Lord Heseltine. He has an article in today’s Mail on Sunday explaining why he will vote to amend the ‘European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill’ (to use its formal name). He wants it written into the law that the Government has to return to Parliament to get the OK for any deal, or indeed for permission to walk away without a deal. After all, this is meant to be all about parliamentary sovereignty, right?
Peers like Lib Dem Lords leader Dick Newby and Labour Lords leader Angela Smith are also both confident that the Lords will amend the bill to include protections for people living in the UK who are nationals of other EU Member States.
These amendments are very welcome. I am going to be contacting peers to urge them to support these proposals, and I hope you will too.
On Monday and Wednesday this week (27th February and 1st March), the bill returns for its committee stage & then it will go through its final stages on Tuesday week, the 7th of March. After that, if the Lords has amended the bill, it goes back to the Commons for them to vote on any Lords amendments. And there are reportedly “up to 20 rebel Conservative MPs” who would back the Lords change.
What I want to suggest is that we email the independent ‘Crossbench’ peers. These are members of the House of Lords who are not aligned to any party. There is a list of them on the Lords website.
Click on a name from that list for more information about a particular peer; some will include an email address. As it’s an alphabetical list, I’d suggest you pick one, two or more in a random fashion, rather than just starting at the top. If everyone just starts at the top of the list then Lords Aberdare and Adebowale may get rather more emails than Baronesses Wolf of Dulwich and Young of Hornsey.
I am not going to give a template email text because politicians can see them a mile off and they have much less impact than something that comes personally from the individual writing to them.
I’d suggest you write from the heart, especially if you are an EU national living in the UK and you fear what might happen to you – tell them about that, write in simple, plain language about you personally and your circumstances. Don’t make your email too long as they will be getting loads; make it an easy decision for them to read it. Also, make your message & your stance really clear in the email subject line; that way, even if they don’t read it or even open it, they will get a flavour of what you have to say. And, of course, be polite.
Amendments can be made this week, or potentially when it comes back to the Lords yet again on 7th March, so keep going. Peers like Lord Teverson have said they have had “an avalanche” letters and emails about the bill, so it is getting through.