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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:20 pm on 8th May 2018.

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Photo of Lord Callanan Lord Callanan Minister of State (Department for Exiting the European Union) 4:20 pm, 8th May 2018

My Lords, we have just debated an important issue, and later I shall turn to some other very substantive matters. Nevertheless, I ask for a moment of the House’s time while I make the case for the five government amendments in this group, especially for the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, who apparently does not believe that we are tabling any amendments to the Bill.

These are all consequential amendments on the status provisions that we debated on day two of Report, and which I am pleased to say that the House accepted without a Division. I know the House will look again at these complex provisions at Third Reading but, as I said on day two, I hope there will be no further amendments beyond anything that relates to additional matters where the distinction between primary and subordinate legislation is important, and therefore we should insert that distinction between retained principal direct EU legislation and retained minor direct EU legislation.

Amendments 93A, 93B and 93C clarify types of legislation that are included in the definition of “enactments” in the Bill. This definition includes a non-exhaustive list of enactments. The new status clause provides that enactments are to retain the same status as they had before exit day. The intention behind the provision was to address the concerns of some noble Lords about the effect that the Bill has on domestic legislation via Clause 2 and whether it changed the status of that legislation. As part of the Government’s commitment to ensuring clarity and certainty, we have tabled the amendments to make it clear that these additional types of legislation all continue to have exactly the same status that they had before our exit from the EU. The amendments clarify that Church Measures, Orders in Council made in exercise of Her Majesty’s prerogative and devolved enactments made in exercise of the prerogative are within the definition of “enactments” and therefore will retain the same status that they held prior to exit day. The Government have of course consulted with the Church of England, the Palace and devolved authorities before tabling the amendments. The amendments also make it clear that in the highly unlikely case that any of these instruments are related to the EU and contain deficiencies, the Government could correct those deficiencies if appropriate, although in these cases it is likely that others would use their own existing mechanisms to so do.

Amendments 112BA and 112BB simply insert the new definitions of “retained principal direct EU legislation” and “retained minor direct EU legislation” into the Interpretation Act so that the terms do not need to be defined in future legislation. I hope noble Lords will find nothing to object to in this group, and I beg to move.