European Union (Amendment) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:00 pm on 19th May 2008.

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Photo of Lord Bach Lord Bach Government Whip, Government Whip 8:00 pm, 19th May 2008

Amendment No. 131 relates to the power in the Bill allowing the Government to make changes to terminology or numbering resulting from the Lisbon treaty in other pieces of UK law. The Bill provides for references in UK domestic legislation to the "Communities" to be treated as references to the "Union". The schedule sets out other changes in terminology in the European Communities Act 1972 and the Interpretation Act 1978 needed to reflect the change from European Community to European Union.

Other consequential changes may be required in other pieces of legislation. That is why the Bill contains a power for the Government to update terminology and numbering in existing legislation by order, subject to annulment by resolution of either House of Parliament. That is a power to make purely technical changes. For example, the article numbers in the treaties will change on entry into force of the Lisbon treaty. The "co-decision procedure" is renamed the "ordinary legislative procedure". These are not changes of substance, but may need to be updated in UK law to reflect the change of terminology. I repeat that this will not mean any change of substance in terms of existing UK legislation. It is a purely technical updating exercise. Clause 3(4) makes it clear that the power to update references in existing legislation is limited to changes,

"to reflect changes in terminology or numbering arising out of the Treaty of Lisbon".

This order-making power is necessary to avoid any legal uncertainty as a result of changes to terminology. The negative resolution procedure is appropriate in this case. Otherwise each House would have to approve every single such consequential change. We believe that we have got it right. Clause 3 avoids that exhaustive—not to say exhausting—exercise. As a safeguard against the unlikely event that this or a future Government would try to exceed the very limited power to make orders set out in the clause, it is clearly provided that any orders are subject to annulment in pursuance of a resolution of either House of Parliament.