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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 6:45 pm on 25th April 2018.

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Photo of Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood Chair, Sub-Committee on Lords' Conduct 6:45 pm, 25th April 2018

My Lords, I want to follow up on what my noble and learned friend Lord Hope said. He referred to proposed new subsections (4), (5) and (6), which deal with the devolved Administrations, but of course Clause 3 deals with our central Parliament and thus the English position, and exactly the same point arises.

My further concern is that, assuming that we did not have that apparent bar on any question of judicially reviewing Ministers of the Crown, it would be very difficult to see by what sort of touchstones any legal challenge would work. Proposed new subsection (1) says:

“Ministers of the Crown and the devolved administrations must pay due regard to the welfare requirements of animals”.

Heaven knows, I hope that I am as anxious as the rest of the House about the welfare of animals—certainly, my cat would never forgive me if I were not—but, as I understand it, the only substantive provision in this proposed new clause is subsection (7), which requires an annual report, although that is obviously a separate and discrete obligation. However, I am not quite sure how judicial review in this context would work or, without it, what is envisaged in the way of Parliament exclusively holding Ministers of the Crown to account. It is all rather abstract and I am a little unsure of how it is intended to work.