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European Union (Withdrawal) Bill - Report (1st Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:45 pm on 18th April 2018.

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Photo of Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Baroness McIntosh of Pickering Conservative 5:45 pm, 18th April 2018

My Lords, in moving Amendment 8, which stands in my name and those of the noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Newnham, and the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, and Amendment 32, which is consequential to this amendment, I wish to press the Minister, my noble and learned friend Lord Keen, who replied to the debate last time. My starting point is that, despite urging my noble and learned friend and following his response to the debate that we had in Committee and subsequently in the cross-party meeting held between Committee and Report, we have seen no movement on this. Since Committee I have revised the amendment to include a list of those 23 directives that we know from a House of Commons briefing paper will fall into one particular category: directives adopted but not implemented before exit day. For clarity, I have attached that list.

However, it is important to point out that this list is not comprehensive. There are a number of other directives of which I am aware, such as the environmental directives relating to water. As has been brought to my attention by the City of London Corporation just today, there are further examples such as the second payment services directive 2015/2366, which will be implemented before exit day, but the regulatory technical standards underpinning its operation will not.

A second category of directives falls within the remit of this amendment, which are broadly packages of directives such as, for example, those referred to in Committee by the noble Baroness, Lady Young of Old Scone, to whom I am very grateful. This has been brought to our attention in a briefing from the Law Society of England. It is particularly concerned that there is no legal basis or mechanism as yet for Ministers to bring any measures into UK domestic law that are part of a package of EU legislation into which the UK will have had input as an EU member state and to which we agree. It is its recommendation that Ministers should be given powers to bring certain types of EU legislation into domestic law if it forms part of a package as this will reduce the impact on businesses and help them to prepare better.

There is then a third category that I believe falls into Amendment 9, which we will consider after this little group. Within that category there are regulations that fall to come into effect after exit day, but the main regulation will have been adopted before that. Again, the City of London gives the example of the prospectus EU regulation 2017/1129. The regulation itself, which is directly applicable, will have been in force since 20 July 2017, but the majority of the regulation will not apply until 21 July 2019, which will mean we will no longer be in regulatory alignment with the European Union after that date.

To sum up the little debate we had on this in Committee, my noble and learned friend Lord Keen, who I am delighted to see in his place, was rather brutal and frank. He said that there might be directives that have been adopted that have not been subject to implementation by the exit date because the transition period extended beyond the exit date. He went on to say:

“There is no legal basis for doing so. With great respect to my noble friend, her amendment would not actually provide one; that is perhaps an aside”.

The central point is that,

“directives that have been adopted but not implemented by the exit date, and which have a transition period that goes beyond the exit date, are not part of domestic law, and for the purposes of the Bill they will not become part of domestic law or EU retained law. Therefore, we will not be taking them into our domestic law by way of an implementation that takes place after”,—[Official Report, 28/2/18; col. 689.] that date.

My purpose in bringing forward the amendment is simply to request that my noble and learned friend brings forward a legal basis today. When we had our meeting, for which we are extremely grateful, he said that it would be open to the Government at a future date to decide that a directive that fell into this category—adopted but not implemented—could be transposed by primary legislation and become part of retained EU law in that way. The question I put to my noble and learned friend is simple. This is very odd. Either it would lead to at least 23 pieces of primary legislation— 23 separate Bills—or one Bill giving individual effect to all the separate pieces of legislation, not just the 23, but the others to which I have referred, in which case it would extend Henry VIII powers beyond those we have already identified. My further question to the Minister would therefore be: what precedent is there for this, and where would the parliamentary scrutiny fall?

In speaking to these amendments, I hope for further clarification, and a commitment and an undertaking from my noble and learned friend to give legal certainty about these two categories of legislation where directives have been adopted but not implemented before exit day.