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 Lord Callanan Lord Callanan Minister of State (Department for Exiting the European Union) 5:45 pm, 21st January 2020

My Lords, we have reached the final amendment. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Howarth, and the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss, for their comments and for setting out their positions. I understand the concern of noble Lords about the parliamentary procedure attached to the consequential power in Clause 41. We have already noted these concerns; noble Lords in other debates have raised them and we all read closely the reports of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee and the Constitution Committee. I addressed many of these points last week, when I spoke to the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Tope. I hope today to provide similar reassurances to the noble Lord, Lord Howarth. I agree with so many of his points on EU withdrawal, although perhaps not this one.

As noble Lords are aware, consequential powers are standard provisions in legislation, even legislation of great constitutional significance, such as the Scotland Act. If noble Lords look at Schedule 5 to the Bill, they will see that we have already included many of the consequential amendments required as a result of the Act. However, we also believe that we need a power to make further consequential provisions to the statute book.

I am aware that the noble Lord, Lord Howarth, yesterday asked for assurance about why the consequential power in Clause 41 is subject to the negative procedure. I understand the noble Lord’s concern but reiterate that the power is limited to making amendments that are consequential to the contents of the Act. Its scope is very different from the powers discussed over the last 10 days by my noble friends Lady Williams and Lord Duncan, which will be used to implement the withdrawal agreement. It is in everyone’s interest that the statute book functions effectively. Moving the consequential provision to the affirmative procedure would frustrate the ability of departments to make the necessary consequential changes before exit day and could lead to legal uncertainty. I hope noble Lords agree with me that this is not the appropriate course of action.

This procedure is limited to giving Ministers the power to make regulations that are in consequence of the Act, like consequential powers in many other pieces of primary legislation. This power will be construed strictly by the courts. It can be used only to make amendments that are appropriate to legislation in consequence of something that the Act does. I am sure noble Lords agree that the use of the negative procedure does not prevent parliamentary scrutiny taking place. Members of this House will still have the opportunity to pray against regulations, should they consider them inappropriate, as is usual for regulations of this kind. I hope I have provided the necessary reassurances to the noble Lord and that, as a consequence, he is able to withdraw his amendment.