The following article was originally published in the North Wales Weekly News newspaper on 22 February 2017.
In my last Weekly News column, I lamented the collapse of the seaward end of Colwyn Bay’s Victoria Pier and urged the County Council to address the issue as a matter of priority.
I was consequently pleased to learn that the Council has now decided partially to dismantle the pier, with a view with to storing it and assessing what can be done to preserve parts that are of heritage value. It will also be working with the Pier Trust, which is certainly a step in the right direction. I await developments with interest.
Meanwhile, my work on the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill continues. On 8 February, the Bill completed its passage through the Commons unamended, with a convincing majority of 372. It had its first reading in the Lords the same evening and will, I hope, pass through all its stages in the Upper House this week and next, with a view to receiving Royal Assent around the middle of March.
Predictably, the Bill has attracted considerable interest from peers: the last time I looked, over 180 of them had applied to speak in the second reading debate.
It is important to remember that the Government does not command a majority in the Lords, so, in theory, the Bill could be defeated there. However, I don’t believe it will be.
The vote to leave the EU in June last year was, above all, about returning control from Brussels to the British Parliament. The Lords are acutely aware that the referendum was held pursuant to a manifesto commitment, under the terms of which the successful party pledged to abide by the result.
There was a clear vote for withdrawal, and now the elected House has passed the Withdrawal Bill by an overwhelming majority of four to one.
The Lords have a keen sense of constitutional propriety; they know that their function is to advise and suggest revisions, but, ultimately, not to thwart the will of the people and their elected representatives.
Some of them may not like it, but they won’t block the Bill.