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European Union (Withdrawal) Bill - Committee (3rd Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:45 pm on 28th February 2018.

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Photo of Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Conservative 4:45 pm, 28th February 2018

My Lords, I am delighted to speak to Amendment 18 in my name before the Committee this afternoon. I refer especially to page 24 of the Explanatory Notes, which states, in paragraph 76 on Clause 2(1):

“This will include legislation that has been passed or made but is not yet in force”.

The reason for my introducing and speaking to this probing amendment—I recognise, as Ministers have said previously, that this is a facilitating Bill—arises from the debate at Second Reading, where it was identified that a number of directives are coming forward and commitments are being discussed and agreed in both the European Parliament and Council of Ministers that will be agreed but not transposed into British law before 29 March 2019. I am not sure whether my noble and learned friend the Advocate-General will reply to this amendment, but I hope that he will see it as a tidying-up exercise that is designed to be helpful.

The purpose of the amendment is to facilitate the transposing into UK law of directives that fall into this category which have been agreed by the relevant ministries in Brussels, and in co-decision between the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers, but have not yet been transposed into UK law. This follows on from the debate at Second Reading, where the issue was discussed in particular by the noble Lord, Lord Kakkar, several noble Lords on the Liberal Democrat Benches, myself and a number of others. For example, the drinking water directive will be completed and will likely be transposed into UK law before we leave on 29 March 2019. It forms part of the price review that Ofwat is conducting, which will also conclude in 2019.

However, a further series of environmental directives does not fall into this category, including the so-called mother directive—the EU water framework directive—the bathing water directive and the waste water directive. Given the current timetable for the revisions being discussed in Brussels by the European institutions, it is quite likely that the directives will be agreed in the very month that we leave the European Union.

The purpose of this amendment is simply to clarify whether that would leave the door open to the directives being transposed at a later date, thereby guaranteeing the environmental protections that water companies themselves might wish to adopt, and which the Government and indeed all of us as consumers would wish to see implemented. So my question to the Minister is simply: is it the Government’s wish to facilitate the transposing of directives that are left in this halfway house into UK law after 29 March 2019, and in those circumstances would they welcome this amendment?