Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.Donate to our crowdfunder
My Lords, I have added my name to this amendment because I share the concern expressed by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, that it is simply not appropriate for Explanatory Notes to be used as the means by which overbroad powers enjoyed by the Minister are to be confined. I will add one point, however: the Minister gave an answer to the concern that we are all expressing. The answer was given in a letter on
My concern about that argument is that these powers are being conferred in this Bill in a Brexit context. The Minister’s letter emphasises that the Government are going to use the Clause 2 powers only to implement obligations and agreements that seek to provide continuity in respect of those already signed by the EU. My concern is that in this specific legislative context it might be said that when a Brexit Bill of this nature does not contain these express limits on the Minister’s powers—the limits set out in the amendment—it should be contrasted with Section 8 of the main Brexit Act, the European Union (Withdrawal) Act, which expressly contains restrictions that are similar but not identical to these limitations. It is my concern that such a contrast might be drawn in this context.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, made the important point that the Pepper v Hart principle is a troublesome one but, if the Government are not going to accept this amendment, at the very least it would be helpful for the Minister to give the House the clearest possible response to it, in the terms set out in her letter—that the Government understand that the powers in Clause 2 do not extend to the sensitive issues—so that her comments could if necessary be relied on in court proceedings under the Pepper v Hart principle.