On 24th January 2017 the House of Lords heard the repeat of a Government statement to the House of Commons on ‘The Process for Triggering Article 50’, following the judgement of the Supreme Court that Parliament must be involved. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd Justin Welby, responded:
The Archbishop of Canterbury: Does the Minister agree that the Bill which will come to this House is essentially about process, not outcomes? The way we handle our processes is different from how we may argue about outcomes at the end of this whole two-year period. The use of language which may occasionally sound threatening is very unhelpful if, at the end of the two-year period we are to end up with a country which can go forward in a reconciled, prosperous and flourishing way. I hope the Minister agrees that those who, like the judges, have quite rightly come to an unbiased and impartial opinion, should be defended against criticism, as should the person who brought the case. We need to take our processes calmly and quietly, without issuing threats and with an eye to the unity of this country.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Exiting the European Union (Lord Bridges of Headley) (Con): I entirely endorse every word said by the most reverend Primate. I completely agree about the substance of the Bill: this is about the process. That is made quite clear in the summary of the judgment itself. Regarding language, we need to try and build a national consensus, as far as possible, around the approach we are taking and intemperate language will certainly not help that. We will disagree, in this House and in the other place, but we need to respect where others are coming from while respecting the views of the British people as expressed in the referendum. The most reverend Primate is absolutely right about the process we have just gone through. Due process was followed; individuals, completely at liberty to exercise their rights, took the decision to bring a case and it was heard. That is their right; the court has spoken and we will now respect its judgment.