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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 28th February 2018.

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Photo of Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate Conservative 6:00 pm, 28th February 2018

My Lords, I support the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, on Amendment 21. I do not intend in my remarks to spend a lot of time with the actual list at the bottom of the amendment, because she put across very well the need to protect in particular certain things which do credit to this country and which will give us advantages in the future, whatever the status of this country is.

I certainly felt my optimism rising today as I heard the reactions of my noble and learned friend the Minister to the whole question of how EU retained law will be protected in future. He seemed to be suggesting at one point that there might be some sort of hybrid approach. I am not sure what that might result in, but in the meantime we are in a situation where, as I am sure noble Lords are aware, the law, however it is made, comes in various forms. It comes in various packages, some of which are packages of principle of law, while other parts of the packages are the levers or the actual technical means by which laws are implemented.

That is why the amendment specifically states that primary legislation should of course be the main means by which any modification could take place, but also that subordinate legislation would be appropriate in certain cases to deal with technical areas that are not appropriate for a primary approach. Indeed, it is very sensible that even subordinate legislation be dealt with in a manner that allows it to have the support and security afforded to the principal legislation itself. I think there are certain doubts—to say the least—about the list of retained EU law. We have had several debates today and previously about what is actually meant by retained EU law, and we need greater clarity as to precisely what components make up this category.

There was a debate in another place on a very similar area and amendment. It was a very strong debate, to which a considerable number of people contributed, and real concerns were expressed about the way in which retained EU law, however it is finally listed, could be supported. As I said, I will not spend any time on the main areas that have been listed, but the Government have given many assurances—which I welcome—that the main areas of retained law will be specially protected and that they regard them as terribly important. That is only being affected, in a negative sense, by remarks from legislators who in the main do not form part of our Government but who nevertheless have been making statements indicating that almost with immediate effect from its arrival, the retained EU law will be either tampered with or destroyed. That has meant that a considerable number of people currently affected by the law are seriously worried about what might happen to those areas that are so important to our public and social life. The reasons for this amendment are to make sure that the Government are aware of the concerns and to ask them to do their best to put in place the security necessary to protect these areas on an ongoing basis. I support the amendment.