The House of Lords has kicked off two days of debate on the Article 50 Bill with a government peer asking lords to remember a “collective sense of responsibility”.
The Bill was passed unamended by the House of Commons before parliament went into recess earlier this month.
And introducing the Bill in the second chamber today, House of Lords leader Baroness Evans told peers to remember the support among MPs for the Brexit legislation, which grants Prime Minister Theresa May the power to formally launch negotiations.
“This bill was the subject of detailed debate in the other place, and was passed unamended with an overwhelming majority of 372.
“It comes to us with a strong mandate from both the people and the elected house, and we should not overlook that,” Evans said.
She added that peers should take a “constructive” approach, noting the government was “under no illusion about the challenge and rigour that will be evident in our debates”.
“But I also know that noble lords respect the primacy of the elected house and the decisions of the British people on 23 June last year,” Evans said.
With May taking advantage of her prerogative to sit on the steps below the royal throne in the House of Lords, Baroness Smith responded for Labour with a promise not to “block or sabotage” the Article 50 Bill.
However, Smith added that peers would not be cowed in their desire to scrutinise the government, and said that if the House of Lords passes amendments on the Bill, “it is not a constitutional outrage, but a constitutional responsibility”.
Almost 200 peers are expected to speak during the second reading of the Article 50 Bill over the next two days.
The House of Lords will then move on to debate amendments on between 27 February and 1 March, with a final vote scheduled for 7 March.
After peers approve the Bill it will enter a final phase of "ping pong" where the Commons and Lords will seek mutual agreement on the text of the legislation before it can be granted royal assent by Queen Elizabeth II.
The government hopes to pass the Bill in time for May to trigger Brexit talks by the end of March.