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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

We will come to that debate later.

Let me make it clear: if there is a role for any EU agency as part of the withdrawal agreement, it will be legislated for under the withdrawal agreement and implementation Bill which we are planning to introduce later in the year. The same principle applies to the future relationship which will, as necessary, be legislated for in due course.

The inclusion of this amendment would make this position less clear than it is at the moment. It may also create an odd presumption that, since the Bill does not prevent the amendment’s intended effect being achieved, the specific inclusion of the new clause would mean that the UK will seek to mirror the laws of the EU after our departure or to continue its current participation in EU agencies. That may not be the right reverend Prelate’s intention, but the amendment could be read as going even further and attempting to save, or partially save, the European Communities Act for the purposes of mirroring changes in EU law after exit. If that is the case, it could be seen as allowing a wide discretionary power to keep pace with EU law. This would also be a wholly inappropriate approach when we do not yet know the outcome of the negotiations.

As I have highlighted during our previous debates on the Bill, the UK has a long-standing tradition of ensuring that our rights and traditional liberties are protected domestically. The UK leads the world in many areas in setting and upholding high standards across our statute book; for example, in areas such as consumer protection, environmental standards and workers’ rights—a point well made by my noble friend Lord Baker. I believe that all Members of Parliament, in this House and in the other place, are invested in the continuation of this legacy. It is in Parliament that we are better able to address and legislate for the specific needs and ideas of the UK.

In our negotiations, we are seeking a deep and special partnership with the EU, and our relationship with its agencies and bodies is being evaluated on this basis. I assure the House that where there is a demonstrable national interest in pursuing a continued relationship with an agency or other EU body, the Government will carefully examine whether we should pursue this. In response to the questions raised by my noble friend Lady McIntosh, participation in the European Environment Agency is of course a matter for the negotiations, but if we do negotiate participation we will, of course, make the appropriate financial contribution.