European Union (Withdrawal) Bill

Author (Corporate)
Series Title
Series Details (2017-19)HL22
Publication Date 28/09/2017
Content Type ,

Further information
Following the 8 June 2017 General Election in the United Kingdom the State Opening of Parliament took place on the 21 June 2017. This marked the formal start of the parliamentary year and included the Queen's Speech which set out the government’s agenda for the 2017-19 session, outlining proposed policies and legislation.

The programme was dominated by proposed legislation dealing with the United Kingdom's planned leaving of the European Union. Eight of the twenty seven bills to be introduced were connected with Brexit.

+ European Union (Withdrawal) Bill (introduced on the 13 July 2017)
+ Customs Bill
+ Trade Bill
+ Immigration Bill
+ Fisheries Bill
+ Agriculture Bill
+ Nuclear Safeguards Bill
+ International Sanctions Bill

Even though the bill was introduced in July 2017 parliamentary scrutiny in practice only began in the autumn of 2017 after the summer break. Opposition parties, human rights groups and the leaders of Scotland and Wales criticised aspects of the bill and suggested they would call for substantive amendments.

Further information about the Report

Content of the Report
In addition to drawing attention to the 'excessively wide law-making powers' the Bill gives to Ministers, the report recommended that Ministers should not have an 'unfettered discretion' to decide whether the wide-ranging secondary legislation likely to stem from the Bill should be subject to the full scrutiny of the affirmative procedure or the less robust negative procedure.

Instead, the Committee recommended a new procedure that, where the Minister proposed the negative procedure, a Committee of each House, or a joint Committee of both Houses, should be given 10 days to overturn the Minister’s proposal and upgrade scrutiny to the affirmative procedure.

The proposed new sifting mechanism was important because a piece of secondary legislation – also known as a statutory instrument - subject to the affirmative procedure does not become law until both Houses of Parliament have agreed it while an instrument subject to the negative procedure will automatically become law unless either House voted it down.

The Committee believed that the proposed sifting mechanism will strike a balance between the scrutiny requirements of Parliament and the business needs of the Government.

The Committee also found that:
+ The Bill gives Ministers excessively wide legislative powers beyond what was necessary to ensure UK law works properly when the UK left the EU.
+ The Bill contained unacceptably wide ‘Henry VIII’ powers, including allowing the Government to amend the Bill itself by statutory instrument.
+ Ministers should not have the power to impose taxation by statutory instrument, and in no circumstances should fees and charges be levied by tertiary legislation.
+ Whatever powers the Government decided to transfer to the devolved institutions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, this should be done by means of separate Bills. Issues of such constitutional importance should not be left to secondary legislation.
The House of Lords Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee published on the 28 September 2017 its first report on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.

Source Link
Related Links
UK: Parliament: House of Lords: News, 28.09.17: Parliament not Ministers should decide level of scrutiny of Brexit secondary legislation
ESO: Key Source: European Union (Withdrawal) Bill 2017-19

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