Charter of Fundamental Rights – Government Report

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 2:30 pm on 21st November 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Dominic Raab Dominic Raab The Minister of State, Ministry of Justice 2:30 pm, 21st November 2017

It is a pleasure to follow Paul Blomfield. At the outset, I would like to thank hon. Members from right across the House for their contributions to today’s debate, whether in speeches or in amendments. The Government will approach the Bill in the spirit of collaboration, and I certainly welcome the constructive contributions and diligent scrutiny hon. Members are rightly providing today. I shall seek to address clause 5, and the Solicitor General will address schedule 1 a bit later in the debate, to make sure we dwell adequately and with due consideration not only on the provisions of the Bill, but on the various issues and amendments, for which I am grateful to hon. Members, that have been raised.

Clause 5 serves two key strategic objectives: taking back democratic control over our laws and making sure we leave the EU in a way that facilitates a smooth Brexit and minimises legal uncertainty. The Bill aims to provide that the laws which apply immediately before exit day will continue to apply in the same way after we leave. Of course, the act of leaving the EU in itself means it is inevitable that some things will not and cannot stay the same. The changes made by clause 5 relate to certain aspects of EU law which are no longer appropriate, or which will not make sense when we leave the EU because we will then cease to be under the obligations that apply to us as an EU member state. The provisions are therefore essential.

Clause 5(1) ends the supremacy of EU law in relation to new law from the date of exit. That is crucial if we are going to give effect to the mandate from the referendum. At the same time, clause 5(2) makes sure that EU law passed before exit still applies as before, for the sake of legal certainty. That is important for mitigating the risks of legal uncertainty that are inevitable and inherent in departure from the EU. The rest of clause 5 reinforces those critical objectives, including by removing the instrument of the charter on fundamental rights as part of domestic law. I want to come on to address that in detail.