European Union (Withdrawal) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:05 pm on 7th September 2017.

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Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 1:05 pm, 7th September 2017

I will make this point and then give way to several hon. Members.

What are the procedures? Are they enhanced? No. The opposite. Part 2 of schedule 7 deals with clause 9. It makes it clear that unless the delegated legislation creates a public authority, or the function of a public authority, affects a criminal offence or affects a power to make legislation, it is to be dealt with by—what? The negative procedure for statutory instruments, which means the least possible scrutiny: it means that the widest possible power, with no safeguards, will be channelled into the level of least scrutiny.

That is absolutely extraordinary. Let us be clear about what it means, because I am sure that the Secretary of State and others will say that notwithstanding the number of statutory instruments for which the schedule provides, they can be called up and annulled, and Parliament will have its say. I looked up the last time a negative-procedure statutory instrument had been annulled in the House, and it was 38 years ago. I do not know how many Members have been in the House for 38 years, but many of us will not have had that opportunity. So much for “taking back control”.

There is no point in the Secretary of State or the Prime Minister saying, “We would not use these powers: take our assurance.” If they would not use them, they are unnecessary, and if they are unnecessary they should not be put before the House for approval today.