I beg to move,
That this House, having regard to the constitutional and legal functions enshrined in the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020, urges the Government to conduct its negotiations with the European Union with the fullest possible transparency to facilitate essential parliamentary scrutiny;
also urges the Government to make regular progress reports on the negotiations, including on stakeholder contributions to the consultation on The Future Relationship with the EU: the UK’s Approach to Negotiations, and to address the issues identified by the European Scrutiny Committee in its Fifth Report of Session 2019–21, HC 333, as matters of vital national interest.
I am delighted to be opening this important debate. In particular, I would like to thank my hon. Friend Sir William Cash. I am sure the House will be aware that, having first been elected in 1984, he has been a distinguished campaigner on a number of issues, including improving the UK’s role in overseas development. Above all, he will be remembered for his commitment to restoring the sovereignty of this House. For more than 35 years he has served on the European Scrutiny Committee, which he now chairs. Having served on it for a brief period when I was a Back Bencher in the 2005 to 2010 Parliament, I can say that his attention to detail, his commitment to this House and his service to the country are things that all of us should recognise and applaud.
The motion we are considering today asks the Government to do three things: to negotiate transparently in order to ease the way for essential parliamentary scrutiny of the Executive; to provide regular reports on the progress of the negotiations; and to address the issues raised specifically by the European Scrutiny Committee about the impact of legislation being passed at European Union level while we are in the transition period, not fully part of the EU but of course subject to its acquis.
With respect to the transparency of our negotiations, it is the case that a Command Paper was published earlier this year outlining the approach that the UK Government would take towards the negotiations. I made an oral statement in this House to outline our approach. Since that time, the UK Government have outlined their approach in detail by the publication of draft texts covering not just our future economic partnership but areas such as fisheries and security. The publication of those draft texts has also been accompanied by my appearance alongside David Frost, the Prime Minister’s sherpa and EU negotiator, in front of the Select Committee of Hilary Benn on the future relationship with the European Union on three occasions, in front of the House of Lords Select Committee covering European affairs on two occasions and, of course, in front of the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee on one occasion as well.