European Union (Withdrawal) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:18 pm on 7th September 2017.

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Photo of David Davis David Davis The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 12:18 pm, 7th September 2017

I beg to move, That the Bill be now read a Second time.

When I introduced the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill earlier this year, I said that that Bill was just the beginning—it was the beginning of a process to ensure that the decision made by the people in June last year is honoured. Today we begin the next step in the historic process of honouring that decision. Put simply, this Bill is an essential step. Although it does not take us out of the European Union—that is a matter for the article 50 process—it does ensure that, on the day we leave, businesses will know where they stand, workers’ rights will be upheld and consumers will remain protected. The Bill is vital to ensuring that, as we leave, we do so in an orderly manner.

Let me start with a brief summary of the Bill before going on to set out its key provisions in more depth. The Bill is designed to provide maximum possible legal certainty and continuity while restoring control to the United Kingdom. It does so in three broad steps. First, it removes from the statute book the key legislation passed by this Parliament in 1972—the European Communities Act 1972. That Act gave European Union law supreme status over law made in this country. It is therefore right that it be removed from our statute book on the day the UK leaves the European Union, bringing to an end the supremacy of European law over laws made in the United Kingdom.

Secondly, the Bill takes a snapshot of the body of EU law that currently forms part of the United Kingdom legal system and ensures that it will continue to apply in the United Kingdom after we leave. This is to ensure that, wherever possible, the same rules and laws will apply the day after exit as they did before. Without that step, a large part of our law would fall away when the European Communities Act is repealed.

But simply preserving European Union law is not enough. There will be many areas where the preserved law does not work as it should. So, as its third key element, the Bill provides Ministers in this Parliament and in the devolved legislatures with powers to make statutory instruments to address the problems that would arise when we leave the European Union.