My Lords, at Second Reading it was obvious to many of us across the House that the Bill was a useful safety net for in-flight legislation. As such, there was a spirit of collaboration and helpfulness. However, since then we have received the report of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee, which is quite scathing about some of the inconsistencies in the Bill. I quote from paragraph 5:
“Furthermore, the assumption that the Bill will only apply in a ‘no deal’ scenario has led in our view to inconsistencies in the drafting of the Bill”.
I still recognise the importance of getting the Bill on to the statute book but we cannot allow it to become a blank cheque. It is important to recognise that there are inconsistencies in the Bill. Indeed, the Delegated Powers Committee drew attention to the comments it had made during its consideration of how HMRC was covered in the withdrawal Bill, saying:
“We judge powers not on how the Government say that they will use them but on how any Government might use them”.
The Minister is an extremely honourable man, probably one of the most honourable in your Lordships’ House. It would be of enormous value to the Committee if we could get this cleared up. It may not be possible at this stage but certainly by Third Reading we should at least have something in the record of the debate that deals with these inconsistencies on a sequential basis. Noble Lords have already referred to some of the difficulties. There will be further opportunities to explore these in the amendments that we will be considering in due course. But this is an important and necessary piece of legislation and it does not help anybody to have gaps left in it that can create difficulties for the future.