Eight days set aside for next stage of Brexit Bill after Government wins key vote

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MPs will have eight days to assess the next stage of the Brexit Bill after the Government won its crucial first vote during the early hours of this morning.
VICTORIA JONES/ PA WIRE
MPs will have eight days to assess the next stage of the Brexit Bill after the Government won its crucial first vote during the early hours of this morning.
Tuesday, September 12, 2017 at 10:08AM

MPs will have eight days to assess flagship Brexit legislation on its next stage through Parliament after the Government won a crucial vote.

The vote on the programme motion for the so-called repeal Bill's committee stage went in the Government's favour by 318 votes to 301, majority 17.

The motion for the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill outlines a guaranteed 64 hours of debate split across eight days at committee stage, where MPs will subject the Bill to detailed scrutiny line by line.

Critics said the Bill should be debated for longer given its significance, with previous major legislation on Britain's relationship with the European Union subject to more than 20 days of scrutiny in committee.

Justice Secretary David Lidington said the Government was "willing to consider" extending the time allocated to debate the Bill at committee stage.

Speaking at the close of the debate, he said: "We think that the 64 hours that has been guaranteed is reasonable and it compares with 39 hours and 17 minutes the Blair government granted for the Bill to ratify the Lisbon treaty."

He added: "We have shown today that where there is good reason to extend debate further we are willing to consider that very seriously and carefully indeed."

Tory Brexiteer Peter Bone (Wellingborough) said: "I notice this particular programme motion is one of the better ones because it's eight days long and has eight hours protected time.

"I'm fed up of sitting here waiting for a debate to come on, only to find there were statement after statement to reduce the time we have to debate it.

"That, thankfully, we're not doing this time. I do think the Leader of the House would be well advised if there is a need for extra time to grant it."

Conservative Cheryl Gillan, a former minister, added: "Ministers have indicated that they will be flexible wherever possible, but on the programme motion, having lived through the Maastricht debates, I think there's little to be gained and much to be lost by prolonging any debate unnecessarily.

"Eight days seems to me a reasonable length of time."

The Bill's committee stage will take place when MPs return to Parliament after their party conferences.

Once through committee, the Bill would be subject to further scrutiny at report stage before a final vote by MPs at third reading.

If approved it would then undergo the same process in the Lords.

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Former chancellor Ken Clarke was the sole Tory MP to vote against the programme motion.

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