Charter of Fundamental Rights – Government Report

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 2:00 pm on 21st November 2017.

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Photo of Dominic Grieve Dominic Grieve Conservative, Beaconsfield 2:00 pm, 21st November 2017

My right hon. and learned Friend makes a very good point. He highlights the difficulty faced by all Back Benchers, particularly Government Back Benchers, in presenting amendments—namely, the extent to which they should accept assurances from Front Benchers. That largely depends on how detailed the assurance is—whether it is woolly and vague or has some specificity to it. My judgment on whether I might press amendment 10 to the vote will depend on how specific Front Benchers can be in providing an assurance that they recognise that, even if there may be areas that remain to be debated, there is a core issue that must be addressed about the ability to bring a right of action in domestic law based on a failure to comply with a general principle of EU law when it concerns the operation of retained EU law.

Furthermore, because retained EU law has supremacy over domestic law, it must be possible that there might be instances in which our domestic law would have to be altered. The Government cannot then argue that that is an extraordinary thing to do, because they have themselves drafted this Bill in a way that allows for the possibility of UK domestic law being quashed. That will, I hope, be for a temporary period. Nevertheless, I am unable to understand how, during that temporary period, we can end up with a situation where the Government are perfectly happy to allow for the supremacy of EU law but remove the very principles that moderate it, ensure that it cannot be abused, and, in those areas that were within EU competence, provide a framework under which Government are undertaking to operate unless or until they repeal the bits of retained EU legislation that they are bringing into our law.