European Union (Withdrawal) Bill - Report (6th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:45 pm on 8th May 2018.

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Photo of Lord Callanan Lord Callanan Minister of State (Department for Exiting the European Union) 3:45 pm, 8th May 2018

My Lords, I understand the sentiment behind Amendment 93 tabled by the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leeds— I assure him that I am not one of those who regard him as a hypocritical remoaner. However, I must make it clear that the Government consider its inclusion in the Bill to be both completely unnecessary and totally inappropriate.

Once we leave the EU, this Parliament—and the devolved Administrations, where appropriate—will be free to change the law where they decide it is right to do so. As such, nothing done by this Bill, or any other Act of Parliament, can bind the actions of future Parliaments. A provision which essentially provides that future Parliaments can mirror EU law, which this Bill neither requires nor prevents, is therefore completely unnecessary. Nor does the Bill prevent Parliament approving any future relationship between the UK and the EU, including its agencies and institutions.

If the intended effect of the amendment is to preserve the sovereignty of Parliament, it is also completely unnecessary. The amendment may have been tabled with one eye on the withdrawal agreement, but my ministerial colleagues and I have been clear throughout the Bill’s passage, both within this House and in the other place, that its aim is just to create a functioning statute book as we depart from the EU—a point well made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Brown of Eaton-under-Heywood. For the avoidance of any doubt, the Bill does not seek pre-emptively to legislate for or against any final withdrawal agreement or future relationship with the EU. On this point, I am surprised to find myself in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, probably for the first time in the Bill’s passage. On this narrow point, he is right. Incidentally, we have accepted many amendments put forward in this House and by its committees. We have tabled more than 100 amendments responding to concerns raised by various Members of your Lordships’ House, so it is not quite true that we always reject everything that is said.