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European Union (Withdrawal) Bill - Committee (7th Day) (Continued)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:15 pm on 14th March 2018.

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Photo of Lord Hope of Craighead Lord Hope of Craighead Convenor of the Crossbench Peers 5:15 pm, 14th March 2018

My Lords, I mentioned on Monday that an aspect of Clause 9(2) is of concern to the devolved Administrations. How does the Sewel convention fit into the scheme which Clause 9(2) sets out? If one were making the amendments which are being contemplated by an Act of Parliament it would be plain that the Sewel convention, with its effects, would apply to that statute—and the Government have always shown their willingness to follow the convention according to its terms. But if a Minister makes a provision by delegated legislation then, as I understand it, the Sewel convention does not apply, because Sewel was talking about primary legislation. Is the Minister prepared to undertake that the principle of the Sewel convention will apply to an order made with reference to Clause 9(2), which makes a provision that would otherwise be made by an Act of Parliament?

The importance of this question has been highlighted, if I may say so, by the point made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, because by necessity this would have to deal with legislation which affects the devolved Administrations in areas devolved to them. The ordinary rule is that that would not be done without their consent. Clarification is needed. The Minister may feel that she cannot give me a clear answer today. If she cannot give the undertaking that I am looking for, I would be very grateful if she would write, because this affects the way I would view any vote on this issue. It may also affect what we talk about on Report.

This is a very important matter. The issue has really been thrown up by the way in which the clause has been drafted—and it has no doubt been drafted in this way for good reasons, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay of Clashfern, has explained. If one is to have this clause, clarification is required.