Charter of Fundamental Rights – Government Report

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 2:15 pm on 21st November 2017.

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Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn Chair, Committee on Exiting the European Union 2:15 pm, 21st November 2017

My hon. Friend is making a very powerful case, and my anticipation of the Minister’s speech increases minute by minute as the case is advanced. Does my hon. Friend share my puzzlement, first, that given that the Government’s stated objective for the Bill was to move everything across, the one thing they have decided to leave behind is the charter; and, secondly, that Conservative Members have argued that nothing will be lost by the disappearance of the charter, yet we have already heard powerful testimony in speeches to the contrary? That testimony includes the point raised by my hon. Friend Mr Leslie, when he referred to the judgment in the tobacco case, in which the charter clearly had an important impact in enabling, in that case, the Government to enforce their rights in relation to their desire to have plain packaging—never mind its being the reason why the Secretary of State, in a former life, decided to call on it in trying to sue the Government. Is there not an incompatibility between the two positions?