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2nd Day

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 8:01 pm on 11th September 2017.

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Photo of Helen Goodman Helen Goodman Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) 8:01 pm, 11th September 2017

No, never. The fact that all the replacement of the functions of the 40 EU agencies is to be done by regulation means that vast swathes of legislation, covering matters from aviation security to medicine safety, will be implemented using these processes.

The Procedure Committee received evidence from academics, four other Select Committees and a large number of civil society organisations, from the TUC to the Archaeology Forum and a lot of environmental groups, who are rightly concerned because 80% of environmental legislation is derived from the EU. All our witnesses raised important issues. The risk is that delegated legislation will be used not just to transfer EU law, which is the Government’s stated intention, but to change its legal effect.

In clause 9 the Government seem to be seeking the flexibility to change the law to comply with the withdrawal agreement. How can the House can be expected to agree to that, given that the Government have steadfastly refused to agree or even share their negotiating objectives with the House? The Government are still refusing to provide in primary legislation for a vote on the final deal, but we are supposed to pre-agree now any changes that flow from the withdrawal agreement. I know what my constituents want from Brexit. They want to control immigration, maintain the social chapter and continue with the EU arrest warrant. But I do not know what the Government want. We cannot pre-approve the final deal.

The Government claim that they want certainty, but their secrecy is preventing anyone from predicting where we will end up. It would be normal to share statutory instruments in draft, but the Government have not even told us in which areas of legislation they will use these procedures. Another major issue is who decides which procedures are used, and how Parliament, rather than the Executive, can do that. This cannot be dealt with solely through the Bill. Changes may be needed to Standing Orders. We may need to establish new Select Committees in the Commons and jointly with the Lords. The Leader of the House, who is not even in her place, has utterly failed to bring forward any plans to show what she will do in terms of resources, time or procedure. The Government have deliberately delayed establishing the Select Committees and have been secretive, nervous and unco-operative. Even today, Tory Members have had a letter from the Secretary of State, but the rest of us have not seen it. We cannot trust these Ministers, and so we cannot give them such vast powers.