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Amendment 11

Part of European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill - Committee (1st Day) – in the House of Lords at 6:15 pm on 14th January 2020.

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Photo of Lord McNicol of West Kilbride Lord McNicol of West Kilbride Opposition Whip (Lords) 6:15 pm, 14th January 2020

My Lords, I rise to speak to Amendments 58 and 60. The noble Lord, Lord Greaves, has touched on many of his probing amendments, and there has been much debate about Amendment 59, so I do not need to cover that.

The establishment of the independent monitoring authority is an important step in implementing the UK’s obligations to EU citizens under the withdrawal agreement. However, the Government’s approach to the IMA leaves a number of important questions unanswered, hence the large number of probing amendments in this and other groups. There are concerns regarding the delegated powers, allowing Ministers to transfer the IMA’s functions—or even wind the organisation up—by statutory instrument, hence the amendment in my name.

At ministerial briefings, the Minister has explained that, later in the withdrawal process, it may make sense for the IMA’s functions to sit elsewhere. Can the Minister give an example of where those functions may be moved to, and why this would be preferable to maintaining an independent body? Can he also confirm that in the event of such transfers there will be no practical impact on citizens? Finally, can he provide assurances that, in the spirit of co-operation, the Joint Committee will be fully briefed regarding any changes to the IMA or the exercise of its functions? To touch very briefly on Amendment 59, in the name of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Thomas, again many important issues are raised regarding the transfer of functions, aiming to ensure that the new executors of such functions would need specific knowledge of UK nations and the regions.