Charter of Fundamental Rights – Government Report

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 1:15 pm on 21st November 2017.

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Photo of Chris Leslie Chris Leslie Labour/Co-operative, Nottingham East 1:15 pm, 21st November 2017

My hon. Friend makes the point well. We can all imagine circumstances in which the Government could be in part responsible for failures to comply with various legal obligations—as she says, it might well include failure to comply with air quality directives—and those who suffer harm as a consequence of those Government failures may no longer have the right of redress. Those rights exist not only in environmental legislation but in, for instance, equal opportunities legislation. I can foresee circumstances in which a same-sex couple seek retroactively to claim their right to pension arrangements that might not have existed in the past so that they can accrue their pension rights, but they would not have redress to do so under the proposed arrangements.

The other big one is competition law, which relies very much on the right to challenge the Government, particularly on procurement arrangements. Companies that say they did not get a contract for such and such a reason may well feel that it was partly because they were unfairly treated by Government. Under the Francovich arrangements we have protections so that contracts can be let fairly, be it for house building, transport infrastructure or anything else we can name. A number of protections need safeguarding there.

Perhaps the biggest one that has not been addressed by Ministers and where Francovich may still be required is the protection of the rights of EU nationals after Brexit. A number of EU nationals will continue to reside in the UK after Brexit, but what will happen if their residency rights or definitions change, if their children are affected by changes of arrangements with the Government, or if rights to claim various tax reliefs or other things change in an unfair way for them, as EU nationals? There should be some level of redress against malfeasance by Government in that respect, so at the very least we need to hear from Ministers a better justification for the deletion of this Francovich protection.