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

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:20 pm on 8th May 2018.

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Photo of Lord Keen of Elie Lord Keen of Elie The Advocate-General for Scotland, Lords Spokesperson (Ministry of Justice) 5:20 pm, 8th May 2018

My Lords, in light of the observations made by the noble and learned Lord in moving this amendment, I will make one observation at this stage in response to his invitation to me.

Part Four of the withdrawal agreement so far agreed between the United Kingdom and the EU sets out:

“During the transition period, the Union law applicable pursuant to paragraph 1 shall produce in respect of and in the United Kingdom the same legal effects as those which it produces within the Union and its Member States and shall be interpreted and applied in accordance with the same methods and general principles as those applicable within the Union”.

That would mean that during the implementation period—assuming that that is actually agreed—the CJEU will continue to fulfil the role it currently does with regard to the UK’s legal structure. This effect will be provided for under the withdrawal agreement and implementation Bill. I do not know whether that assists the noble and learned Lord but that is the position as set out.

I add only that given the terms of the noble and learned Lord’s amendment—and I appreciate that it has been deliberately framed in this way:

“A Minister of the Crown may not appoint a day on which section 6 is to come in force unless this day follows the expiration of transitional arrangements agreed between the United Kingdom and the European Union”,

if that amendment was passed, it would throw into doubt what would happen if there were no transitional arrangements. That is not an outcome that we seek but it is a distinct possibility and would mean either that Section 6 did not come into force at all or that potentially we would be thrown back into the billowing mists of uncertain inference. So I have that objection but I thought it might assist noble Lords if I made clear our position with regard to the implementation period. I hope that that responds to the noble and learned Lord’s observation.