Standing Orders (Public Business)

Part of Children and Social Work Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 5:29 pm on 7th March 2017.

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Photo of David Lidington David Lidington Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons 5:29 pm, 7th March 2017

With the leave of the House, Lady Hermon enjoys huge respect on both sides of the House for the way in which she has championed peace and political reconciliation in Northern Ireland. We all take seriously her concerns about the current fragile political situation there. Both the Prime Minister and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland are working as hard as they can to bring about reconciliation, and they will want to listen to her views and the views of other Northern Ireland colleagues in the days and weeks ahead.

The hon. Members for North Down and for Aberdeen North (Kirsty Blackman) both asked about the application of the Standing Order No. 83 tests to the repeal Bill. One reason for my reluctance to go into great detail is simply that the repeal Bill has not yet been published. I can give a measure of reassurance that the repeal Bill will seek to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and convert European law into UK law, which is not a matter that could relate only to England or only to England and Wales. It therefore strikes me as very unlikely that EVEL would apply to the Bill, and even more so when one considers the tests that Mr Speaker is required under the Standing Orders to apply to Bills, or to clauses of Bills, when considering the application of Standing Order No. 83.

To be treated under the EVEL procedures, a Bill or a clause has to deal with a devolved matter—in most cases, the procedures apply to matters devolved to Scotland. The repeal Bill will address the cessation of the application to the UK of an international treaty, and international treaties, as the whole House knows, are expressly reserved to the United Kingdom Government and Parliament in all three devolution settlements.

It is difficult to see how the EVEL procedures could apply to matters under the repeal Bill, but I will be cautious about that until the day when the repeal Bill is published and everybody can inspect it.