Amendment 29

Part of European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill - Report (2nd Day) (Continued) – in the House of Lords at 5:45 pm on 21st January 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Butler-Sloss Baroness Butler-Sloss Crossbench 5:45 pm, 21st January 2020

My Lords, I have put my name to this amendment. A few days ago, we discussed Clauses 21 and 26, as referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Howarth, which people called a constitutional outrage. This is far, far worse. As a constitutional issue, Clause 41(1) takes the Government into realms which, in the years that I have been in this House, I have never seen before.

The noble Baroness, Lady Kramer, set out most of what I wanted to say, putting it rather better than I would have. There is not a great deal else to say, but if the Government are going to say, as I am sure they will, that they do not propose to use these powers, other than to a very limited extent, the short answer to that, speaking as a lawyer, is, “Why have them here?” Why put something so unbelievably wide, which could apply to any law enacted in the past until the end of this year, into the withdrawal Bill if they do not intend to use it?

As the noble Lord, Lord Howarth, said, it is not his—or my—intention to get rid of this objectionable clause but purely to alleviate it, so that if the Government require to make such provision in consequence of the Bill, at least we can look at it. If the Commons can get over its majority of 80, it could look more critically at the legislation to see whether it is really what is wanted and look, with the affirmative resolution, at what is being offered by the Government. Therefore, I support the amendment. It needs to be brought forward to both this House and the other place, because this Clause 41 really is beyond belief.