Amendment 46

Part of European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill - Committee (3rd Day) (Continued) – in the House of Lords at 4:45 pm on 16th January 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Shadow Spokesperson (Cabinet Office), Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Lords, Shadow Minister (Exiting the European Union), Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) (Labour) 4:45 pm, 16th January 2020

In moving Amendment 46 I will speak to the other amendments in the group, which essentially have the same effect. Under the Bill there will be no extra sifting procedure of the sort that we established in the 2018 Act, which was able to act as a further check on the Brexit statutory instruments that were laid using the negative procedure. Quite a large number of instruments were recommended for upgrade to the affirmative procedure, and the process helped to identify a variety of drafting errors that could otherwise have left the statute book inoperable in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Our thoughtful and highly experienced Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee has recommended a sifting mechanism for this Bill along the lines of the 2018 Act. It would be able to recommend an upgrade from the negative to the affirmative procedure where the regulations were seen to be significant. That recommendation has been endorsed by our Constitution Committee, given the importance and potential breadth of powers in the Bill. It has also recommended that the sifting mechanism should be added as part of parliamentary scrutiny. In particular, the committee concurs with the recommendation of the DPRRC that the powers in Part 1, which are not accompanied by a sunset provision and are thus particularly important, should be subject to a sifting mechanism, as well as those in Part 3 and for the Clause 18 powers.

Rather than duplicate unnecessarily the provisions laid out in the 2018 Act, the amendments tabled in my name seek to make clear that the relevant delegated powers would be subject to these provisions. Given that we are in Committee, I hope that the Minister will understand that any issues in the drafting are the result of not having gone through all detail before, and that he will focus instead on the principle that the wide-ranging powers allowed for under the current Bill should be subject to a greater level of scrutiny. That, as I say, is not only for the sake of Parliament but to protect the Government from any errors.

I know that there may be some noble Lords who will probably disagree, having spent many a long afternoon in the Moses Room, but actually the sifting mechanism in the 2018 Act did work really well, and I think that that was the view of Ministers as well as those doing the scrutiny. Given that, it is slightly hard to see why the Government have not thought to repeat that process in this Bill, particularly given that it has been recommended by the DPRRC and the Constitution Committee. I beg to move.