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Main power in connection with other separation issues

Part of European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill – in the House of Commons at 2:00 pm on 8th January 2020.

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Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office) 2:00 pm, 8th January 2020

I will also come back to the issue raised by my hon. Friend.

As is standard in international agreements, the withdrawal agreement sets out procedures for dealing with disputes concerning compliance with the agreement. Amendment 24 would require parliamentary approval for the payment of any fines or penalties under the withdrawal agreement. The withdrawal agreement is a binding agreement that will place the UK under a legal obligation to make those payments. We have to be clear that we will honour our international legal obligations, and we therefore cannot accept any conditionality on payments.

I turn to amendments 38 and 46 in the name of Joanna Cherry. It is essential that the powers in clauses 18 to 22 can be used to enable all appropriate measures required by the withdrawal agreement to be implemented by the end of 2020. Restricting the power in the manner proposed would limit the Government’s ability to implement the withdrawal agreement in the most sensible way. I remind the hon. and learned Lady that the use of “appropriate” in statute is not at all new. There are myriad examples elsewhere on the statute book of powers that use the term “appropriate” to describe the discretion available to Ministers when legislating. I remember well that we discussed the question of “appropriate” versus “necessary” many times during the passage of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, and Parliament accepted the use of the word “appropriate”. There is no persuasive reason why we should depart from that approach here.