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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:00 pm on 28th February 2018.

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Photo of Lord Mackay of Clashfern Lord Mackay of Clashfern Conservative 5:00 pm, 28th February 2018

My Lords, it is fairly clear that this Bill already has enough to do in trying to deal with the situation of withdrawal, and it cannot be right that it should take account of any transition period or implementation period, whatever you like to call it, until we know a good deal more about it than I do at the moment. That ignorance is possibly shared to some extent by other noble Lords.

On this point, the true position is that once a directive has been adopted by the European Union with a period for implementation by a member state, the obligation on that member state is to bring it into law in its own domestic arrangements within the period stated. The directive therefore does not become part of the domestic law of that member state until its implementation before or by that date. This Bill is intended to deal with the state of the law on the day of our withdrawal and therefore strictly speaking such directives, however desirable they may be, are not really part of our domestic law any more than an Act which has been passed but not commenced is part of our domestic law. I have a fair amount of experience of that happening.

The situation is clear so far as what this Bill should do, but so far as what my noble friend Lord Deben wants, that is another matter. It is perfectly reasonable that the Government should have a policy on that if they want it.