Transcripts (perhaps draft) of the Article 50 ‘Brexit’ Appeal hearings at the Supreme Court

It is page 5787, and you will see the terms of the resolution:

"This House approves Her Majesty's Government's decision in principle to join the European Communities on the basis of the arrangements which have been negotiated."

So by these resolutions the Houses of Parliament were being asked to give their consent in principle to the Government's in principle decision to join the EEC; in other words if the resolutions were passed, Parliament could next expect the introduction of a European Communities bill to give effect to the in principle decision to join the EEC. But if those resolutions had not been passed, the UK's proposed membership of the EEC would have been stopped in its tracks.

Now, this was made clear by Mr Heath, the then Prime Minister, and if I could just take you to two very short passages, first of all at 5846, electronic 5846, which is towards the very end of this tab, 193, for those who have it in paper form. 5846, at the very top of the page, this is Mr Heath winding up the debate:

"I do not think that any Prime Minister has stood at this box in time of peace and asked the House to take a positive decision of such importance as I am asking it to take tonight. I am well aware of the responsibility which rests on my shoulders for so doing. After ten years of negotiation, after many years of discussion in this House and after ten years of debate, the moment of decision for Parliament has come. The other House has already taken its vote and expressed its view. Frontwoodsmen have voted in favour of the motion ... I cannot over-emphasise tonight the importance of the vote which is being taken, the importance of this issue, the scale and quality of the decision and the impact it will have, equally inside and outside Britain."

So that was the momentous occasion which was the presager to the 1972 Act. If you then go to 5849, at the very bottom, four lines up, this is still in Mr Heath:

"It is well known that the President of France, supported by the Chancellor of Germany, has proposed a summit meeting of heads of Government ... This meeting will settle the European approach."

Then over the page:

"If by any chance the House rejected this motion tonight, that meeting would still go on and it would still take its decisions which will affect the greater part of western Europe and affect our daily lives but we would not be there to take a share in those decisions."

So if the resolutions had not been passed, the reality is that the Government would not have been able to go on to sign the accession treaty because if it had done so, it would have been acting directly contrary to the will of Parliament if those resolutions had been rejected. Of course if they had been rejected, there would have been no European Communities bill. However, the resolutions were passed and they led to the signing of the accession treaty on 22 January 1972 and the introduction of the European Communities bill which became an act on 17 October 1972. So that is the context in which the Act was passed.

In our submission, everything from then on has to be seen through the prism of the 1972 Act. On the very next day, 18 October, the UK ratified the accession treaty and these dates are no coincidence. Prior to ratification, it was necessary for Parliament to pass legislation which would enable the UK to meet its fiscal obligations and would enable the UK to change domestic law.

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