Motion A

Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill - Commons Amendments and Reasons – in the House of Lords at 3:21 pm on 6 June 2023.

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Lord Callanan:

Moved by Lord Callanan

That this House do agree with the Commons in their Amendment 1A.

1A: Leave out subsections (1B) to (1D)

Photo of Lord Callanan Lord Callanan Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

My Lords, in moving Motion A, I will also speak to the other Motions in this group. It feels very recent that we had Third Reading on the Bill, as the other place has returned it remarkably quickly.

Motion A covers this House’s Amendment 1. The original amendment was to require a Joint Committee to consider the revocation list and to arrange debates in both Houses with respect to anything that represented a change to the law before the legislation on it could be revoked. I thank the noble Lords who sponsored this amendment for not pushing it again today.

Motions B and B1 cover the Commons disagreement to Lords Amendment 6. I sympathise with the amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, in lieu of Amendment 6 on its intent to help establish legal clarity. Indeed, one of the main purposes of the Bill is to simplify the statute book. However, in my view, such an amendment is not necessary. The amendment seeks to clarify that the new clauseRetained EU law dashboard and report”, inserted by Lords Amendment 16, will include those rights, powers and liabilities referred to in Section 4 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018. I am happy to reassure the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, today that the Government intend to ensure that rights, powers, and liabilities referred to in Section 4 of the 2018 Act will be included in future dashboard updates and accompanying reporting. The Government will include those rights, powers and liabilities that they have explicitly codified or intend to codify, as well as those they have decided not to codify because they are no longer fit for purpose. I hope that this provides the necessary clarity around which matters, originally retained under Section 4 of the 2018 Act, will be codified into domestic law. I thank the noble Lord for his valuable and collegiate engagement on this matter. I hope that this commitment provides him with the reassurance he is looking for and that he therefore will not press his Motion.

Turning to the Motion to amend the drafting of what was Amendment 16, I know that many noble Lords have strong views on Amendment 16 and the Motions concerning it. The other place inserted further measures to strengthen the reporting requirements and to ensure that the Government inform Parliament of their progress on using the powers in the Bill and their forthcoming plans on a more frequent basis. The Motion in my name therefore simply tidies that drafting and, on that basis, I hope that the House is able to support it.

Finally, I call on the House to reject the amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Anderson. The Government recognise the significant role that Parliament has played in scrutinising instruments and are committed to ensuring the appropriate scrutiny under the delegated powers in the Bill, including any instruments made under the powers to revoke or replace. This amendment would impose a novel and untested scrutiny procedure on regulations proposed to be made using the powers to revoke or replace. This novel approach is, in our view, simply unnecessary.

The Government will ensure that any significant retained EU law reforms will receive the appropriate level of scrutiny by the relevant legislatures and are subject to all the usual processes for consultation and impact assessment. However, it is important that we ensure that the limited amount of parliamentary time available is used appropriately and effectively.

The existing sifting procedures in the Bill have been purposely drafted as a safeguarding measure for these powers and already contain adequate scrutiny. They allow for additional scrutiny for the exercise of the power to revoke or replace, while retaining the flexibility of using the negative procedure where there are good reasons to do so—for example, in repealing redundant rules that no longer have any purpose on the UK statute book.

In addition, in certain situations, notably the use of subsection (3), the affirmative procedure continues to be required. The existing procedure will give the UK Parliament the opportunity to take an active role in the development of this legislation. It is a tried and tested method of parliamentary scrutiny which, in my view, delivers good results for everyone and draws on the experience of our parliamentary committees. We will, of course, respect the judgment of the sifting committees relevant to the Bill, in the same way as we did for the EU withdrawal Act. Therefore, I do not consider the proposed amendments to be necessary. I hope this provides the House with sufficient reassurance on this matter.

Photo of Lord Anderson of Ipswich Lord Anderson of Ipswich Crossbench

My Lords, I will speak to Motions B1 and E1 in my name in this group. Having heard the Minister, I can be brief on Motion B1, which concerns a sometimes-neglected part of the Bill. Clause 3 is headed “Revocation of retained EU rights, powers, liabilities etc”. That clause is unaffected by the Government’s concession on the sunset and continues to provide for all directly effective provisions of EU law—whether they are found in the treaty, in directives, or in international agreements—to be revoked at the end of the year. My concern in tabling this amendment has been to know precisely what is being revoked and what will be proposed by way of replacement.

To that end, Motion B1, which builds on the helpful amendment originally proposed by the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, seeks a guarantee that the directly effective provisions will be fully included in dashboard updates, as they have not been to date, and that the Government will give us clear warning in advance of those which they intend to carry over into our law and those which they may have decided not to carry over.

Unpicking provisions so deeply embedded in our law will not be a simple business. I declare an interest as a lawyer who sometimes needs to advise in this area. Such a commitment will be helpful to anyone who needs to understand what our law provides and how it is intended to be changed. I am grateful to the Minister and the Bill team for their constructive engagement on this issue, and for the clear commitments that he has just offered. In the circumstances, I am confident that I do not need to trouble the House with a Division on this issue.

Motion E1 is of a constitutional nature and concerns what, to some of us, has always been the most troubling feature of the Bill. It is nothing to do with the dashboard, direct effect or even the end-of-year sunset. It is rather the delegated superpower, headed “Powers to revoke or replace”, which currently appears as Clause 14. I remind the House of its most remarkable feature, subsection (3), which states:

“A relevant national authority may by regulations revoke any secondary retained EU law and make such alternative provision as the relevant national authority considers appropriate”.

That power will last until June 2026, which even we in the ivory tower of these Benches understand is some time after the next general election. It allows the Government to make regulations that Parliament cannot amend or, in practice, block, even when those regulations have quite different objectives from the laws that they replace, as the Bill makes clear.

I say “laws” because the measures whose replacement is authorised by this clause are no ordinary regulations concerned only with matters of detail. They include major instruments of policy, often arrived at by codecision between the Parliament and Council of the European Union—the equivalent in our system of primary legislation. They take the form of regulations only because of Section 2(2) of the European Communities Act, which was itself a prime target of Brexit, ironically, because it stripped sovereignty from our Parliament. The seriousness of what is proposed—permission to amend by statutory instrument numerous laws, in many fields, with the quality of primary legislation—is no doubt why, today, organisations from the RSPB to the TUC and the Law Society have come out in favour of this amendment.

The amendment contains an exceptional power, as the Minister said, but it is designed for exceptional circumstances. A Commons sifting committee would have the power to identify proposed regulations that are particularly deserving of parliamentary attention—perhaps because they are so substantially different from what went before, or because consultation or an impact assessment is lacking. Both Houses of Parliament could then agree on amendments—not an unprecedented power but one modelled on Section 27 of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004. This power would not be a precedent for the routine amendment of statutory instruments, any more than the Civil Contingencies Act has proved to be. Both these laws are in the same wholly exceptional category because both confer the power to make regulations on subjects that would normally be appropriate only for primary legislation—emergency powers in one case, and the unique circumstances of our departure from the EU in the other.

The precursor to this amendment, tabled by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope of Craighead, and signed by me and the noble Lords, Lord McLoughlin and Lord Hamilton of Epsom, was carried by a majority of 64. It did not meet with favour in the Commons, although there were some interesting speeches from the Conservative Benches there. We have listened and come up with something more modest. Its scope is limited to the one clause I have identified—not three clauses, as previously—and the sifting committee will be of the Commons only, not a Joint Committee. There is ample reason, I suggest, to ask the Commons to think again about what we meant when we took back control and whether the Commons is really willing to write itself out of the script, as the Bill would allow.

I only wish that this speech could have been made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge. It would have been half as long, twice as amusing and four times as persuasive. So I end by recalling that, at the last Queen’s Speech, the noble and learned Lord asked, on his favourite subject of delegated powers,

“what is the point of us being here if, when we identify a serious constitutional problem, we never do anything about it except talk?”—[Official Report, 12/5/22; col. 130.]

It is time to act, and I propose to do so by testing the opinion of the House.

Photo of Viscount Hailsham Viscount Hailsham Conservative 3:30, 6 June 2023

My Lords, I will very briefly support what the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, said. I agree with all of his detailed arguments, which were extraordinarily well put.

I will focus on two general points. First, in principle, I am very much in favour of increasing the control of Parliament over the legislative powers exercised by the Government. That is increasingly the case because Governments of all stripes are increasingly using secondary legislation to make very substantial changes to our laws. I want to see much greater parliamentary control.

Secondly, and differently, this issue goes to the amending power included in subsection (3) of the proposed new clause—I am very much in favour of that. For the many years I have been in Parliament, I have been deeply troubled by our inability to amend secondary legislation. What is being proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, is a mechanism; it may be rather a tricky one to use, but I hope it will be a precedent. It is one that I strongly support, because it is important for this House and the House of Commons to be able to amend statutory instruments. So if the noble Lord moves his amendment to a Division, I shall support it.

Photo of Baroness Butler-Sloss Baroness Butler-Sloss Chair, Ecclesiastical Committee (Joint Committee), Chair, Ecclesiastical Committee (Joint Committee)

My Lords, I too strongly support what the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, and the noble Viscount, Lord Hailsham, said. I cannot resist telling the House that I am chairman of the Ecclesiastical Committee, and some years ago the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury was discussing a measure that was coming through our hands before going to Parliament, which had a clause that would allow the General Synod to make almost any changes to any law in England. We pointed out gently that it would not get through Parliament. Dear, oh dear, what are we talking about today? I would not have been quite as gung-ho about what could not happen in Parliament if I had come across this Bill and, I have to say, the Illegal Migration Bill.

The point that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, was making about delegated powers—I remember that speech very well—is one that I am delighted the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, has taken up. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, was saying that there will come a point when we will actually vote against secondary legislation—and maybe the time is just beginning to come. If we end up with having no power in Parliament, in either House, to decide whether laws that are different from those we have can be argued in either Chamber, what is the point of us being here? Consequently, I do feel that the House should support the noble Lord, Lord Anderson.

Photo of Baroness Ludford Baroness Ludford Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union)

My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, for the work he has done on Motion B1 with the listing of powers, rights and liabilities. I note that he will not press his amendment because he has got it to the point of getting a pledge from the Government.

Perhaps I might ask the Minister what the timescale is for putting these on the dashboard, because they are not currently on the dashboard. The last time they were searchable on the dashboard, only 28 rights, powers and liabilities were listed. They did not include, for instance, Article 157 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which, as all noble Lords know, concerns the right to equal pay for equal work; it goes further than the Equality Act 2010 and is an absolutely crucial instrument for equal pay. They also did not include Article 6.2 of the habitats directive, which imposes an obligation to take appropriate steps to avoid the deterioration of habitats. Those are two examples of key rights and powers that need to be on the dashboard, and there must be many more. Can the Minister tell us how many he thinks will be listed and by when?

Photo of Lord Lisvane Lord Lisvane Chair, AI in Weapon Systems Committee, Chair, AI in Weapon Systems Committee

My Lords, I am delighted to support Motion E1 in the name of my noble friend Lord Anderson of Ipswich. At a time when there is increasing concern about the balance between Parliament and the Executive, I was rather surprised that the elected House rejected the idea of a Joint Committee to sift proposals, which might well be of disadvantage to their constituents. I was also surprised—perhaps “saddened” might be the better word—that the Government saw fit to take that view of the amendment in the Commons. This Motion, as my noble friend outlined, returns to the charge, but provides a Commons-only Select Committee—a sifting committee—rather than a Joint Committee.

There has been much talk about amendable SIs. It may be part of the Government’s case, or be seen by the Government as strengthening their case, to portray them as a whole new category of legislative procedure, where SIs become like mini-Bills, with all the complications that would ensue.

Much as I appreciate the noble Viscount’s wish that these would be broad, sunlit uplands, I do not think that this is the case in this instance. As far as I am aware, there are only two examples of statute providing for amendable SIs, via Section 1(2) of the Census Act 1920 and Section 27(3) of the Civil Contingencies Act 2004. SIs under either of those Acts are truly amendable because, if an amendment is approved, it becomes immediately effective.

What this Motion proposes is a little different; it is much closer to the super-affirmative procedure applied to legislative reform and regulatory reform orders, which does not seem to have frightened the horses in either House. There is a difference, yes, because in that super-affirmative procedure it is a matter of discretion as to whether the Minister accepts the advice of the sifting committee as to amendments that might be made. Commons Standing Orders 141 and 142 provide for that difference of opinion between the Minister and the sifting committee. The Motion before your Lordships would remove that ministerial discretion—but I find it hard to see how allowing the two Houses to take the decision would be such a dreadful thing, unless of course the Government see it as infringing upon the prerogative of the Executive, which would confirm the worst fears of many.

Whatever one’s views on the issue, it is very important to keep a sense of proportion. I cannot imagine the heavy weaponry that is implied by some in this Motion being deployed at all often. The Government, if they had any sense, would want to reach agreement with a sifting committee rather than seeking the adversarial outcome of a vote on the Floor of the House. In any event, what would be so wrong about accepting the view of an all-party committee which had identified in a government proposal hazards for business, the environment, civil liberties or any of the other fields in which Parliament is supposed to be the guardian of our citizens’ interests?

The Minister criticised the proposal on the basis that it was novel and untested. If one is going to improve the effectiveness of Parliament, there will from time to time be procedures that are novel. If it were not the case, we would be living the rest of our lives encased in a sort of parliamentary aspic. He also said that it was untested. In a parliamentary environment, you cannot have a novel procedure unless it is untested so, with great respect to the Minister, I would dismiss that criticism.

I conclude with a short look ahead, as the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, invited your Lordships to do, to the further stages that might ensue. There is an urban myth to the effect that two exchanges is the limit. I had some involvement with the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Bill in 2007, and on that occasion there were seven exchanges between the two Houses. Other Bills have demonstrated more than two exchanges on a number of occasions. On something that raises an issue of constitutional principle—and I borrow the description of the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, in speaking to his Motion—it would be right if the Commons were invited on several occasions to consider whether it had got this right after all.

Photo of Lord Hamilton of Epsom Lord Hamilton of Epsom Conservative

I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, as did the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, on the work that he has put into this. As he knows, I supported the original amendment and put my name to it, and I congratulate him on all the work that he has done since. I totally sympathise with all the sentiments that everybody has expressed. It is most regrettable—and I say this as somebody who campaigned to leave the EU—that we took the very undemocratically imposed EU law given to both Houses of Parliament, which we could neither amend nor reject, and now we are replacing that by giving that power to the Executive through statutory instruments under the negative procedure, which means that we cannot amend them or do anything about them at all. I do not think that that was what people voted for when they voted to leave the EU; I think that they wanted to restore parliamentary sovereignty, and this does not do it.

Having said all that, we are a revising Chamber; we asked the Commons to think again; they have thought again. It is a matter of regret to me that I have not even persuaded my leave colleagues in this House to support the amendment, let alone in the other place, and I do not think it is our job to play endless ping-pong. The House of Commons is elected; it has spoken, and I think we should go along with what it says.

Photo of Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Green 3:45, 6 June 2023

My Lords, I strongly support this Motion and I disagree with the noble Lord who has just spoken, because it is our job not to let things through that are actually dangerous or damaging for our constitution and for the British people. I think the Bill has a huge number of flaws. I know the Minister to be an honourable man and I am sure he believes what he is saying, but the point is that he cannot tell us that this Motion is not necessary and he cannot say he gives us all the reassurance: how do we know he is going to be in post within a few weeks?

And of course, then we have the next Government. One of the things that staggers me about the Bill is just how much power the current Government are giving into the hands of the next Government, which could of course be a Labour Government. Surely, when the next Government come into power, those opposite will bitterly resent the powers they have put into the Bill. Personally, I think it is a dereliction of MPs’ duties as legislators to allow this to happen, so I thoroughly support the Motion in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Anderson. I think we have to be very responsible here and say, no, we will not let this pass.

Photo of Lord Cormack Lord Cormack Conservative

My Lords, “Do not take to yourself powers that you would not wish your opponents to have” is the substance of the noble Baroness’s speech, and I agree with that. I greatly admired the speech made by my noble friend Lord Hamilton at Second Reading. I admired his courage in putting his name to the amendment and I totally respect his view that one has to consider and judge how long ping-pong should go on. So, there is no disagreement between us on this issue, even though we were on opposite sides in the Brexit argument.

But I come down very strongly in favour of the points made by the noble Lord, Lord Lisvane, who, remember, is a very distinguished former clerk of the House of Commons and understands these procedural matters perhaps more than any of us. The noble Lord, Lord Anderson, called in aid the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, and we do indeed all miss his presence today and wish him a speedy return to full health and to vigorous debating in this Chamber. He has, perhaps above all of us, talked of the danger of Parliament becoming the creature of the Executive. That is to turn our constitution on its head, and it is something that none of us should be complicit in.

We do have a duty in this House, if we think the other place has got it wrong, to say, “Please reconsider”, and it is not in any way an aggressive use of our limited powers if we think their rethink, which did not take very long, has not been adequate. Therefore, I believe it would be entirely consistent with our relationship with the other place, and with our duty to Parliament, of which we are the second House, to say to our friends and neighbours along the Corridor, “We think you have got this wrong: you are giving power to the Executive which no Executive, be it Labour or Conservative, should have”. I do not want them to have it if they come into government, and I do not think it is right that we should have it. For those reasons, I shall support the noble Lord, Lord Anderson.

Photo of Lord Jackson of Peterborough Lord Jackson of Peterborough Conservative

My Lords, I oppose the Motion in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich. For what it is worth, I support the new iteration of Amendment 16, to which I put my name on Report, in Motion D.

I very much respect the noble Lord, Lord Lisvane, and indeed my noble friend Lord Cormack, but I think we are missing the bigger picture here. We are effectively asking the other place to invalidate a Bill, for reasons I will develop shortly, which it passed by 53 votes when the will of that House was last tested. As I have said before in this House, I think there is a danger of legislative overreach—of assuming powers and of imposing responsibilities and obligations on the elected House, fettering its discretion and, by so doing, interfering in its rights and obligations. Notwithstanding what my noble friend Lord Cormack said, yes, it is our duty and responsibility to ask the other place to think again, but we have already done that. It has thought again and debated the issue. I have to agree with my noble friend the Minister. He is far too polite to describe the approach outlined by the noble Lord as it truly is: extremely radical. He described it as a “novel” approach.

Let us think about what this Motion would mean in practice. If we are in the business of improving governance by scrutiny and oversight, unless we vote for a fatal Motion to kill the Bill—which is very unlikely, because the Opposition Front Bench would not support such a move—surely the logical corollary is that we want to improve it. The perverse application of the noble Lord’s amendment would result in quite the opposite. The opportunities to revoke and, importantly, to reform the caucus of EU retained legislation would be slowed. There would be a process of delay and obfuscation, and it would not be effective government. In fact, it would be a betrayal of the responsibilities and duties we have as the upper House in scrutiny and oversight. Indeed, even above that, the Motion would invalidate the very raison d’être of the Bill, which has to exist. The noble Lord’s amendment is too rigid. It is instructive, and it would assume the powers of Ministers. In some respects, it would make this House itself part of the Executive in a way that Amendment 16 did not, which was much more permissive, declaratory and flexible in seeking to get to the same objectives.

For those reasons of legislative overreach, inadequate scrutiny and oversight, and delay and obfuscation if we were to go down the path of this Motion, I respectfully ask your Lordships’ House to reject it and support the Government.

Photo of Lord Inglewood Lord Inglewood Non-affiliated

My Lords, having sat quietly listening to the debate, which has focused on all kinds of minutiae over the past few weeks, I cannot help but conclude, taking an overview, that if we look at the history of Parliament we see that for hundreds of years it has had a tense relationship with the Executive. Over that period, it has developed a framework within which, in the interests of the British people as a whole, the Executive exercise their powers. We have had civil wars over it; people have died in that cause. Now we are being asked, it seems to me, to put that process into reverse. We are being asked that Parliament should move in the opposite direction and return to a system of governance where the Executive have ever more increasing control over everyone’s lives. I do not think that is the way we in this Parliament should respond to those kinds of circumstances, and it is my personal view that to do so is craven.

Photo of Baroness Altmann Baroness Altmann Conservative

My Lords, from my perspective, the way in which the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, moved and explained his Motion was extraordinarily powerful. My summation is that this is an existential issue—we are way down a slippery slope. I respect the views of the elected Chamber. Had we been subject to a general election or a referendum which asked the British people whether they wanted control given to an Executive, consisting of a number of Ministers, or to each of their elected Members of Parliament equally, and the British people had supported the idea that we become an elected dictatorship of some kind, that would be a different matter. However, I do not believe that that has been put to the British people. I believe that the constitutional safeguards which this House represents, and which are there to protect ordinary citizens, need to be better safeguarded. I will therefore support Motion B1.

Photo of Viscount Stansgate Viscount Stansgate Labour

My Lords, I was not intending to speak so I shall be brief. This House is not elected—we know that—but that is not to say that it does not have a role, which it does. We heard a speech just a moment ago suggesting that ping-pong, the stage in which we are at the moment, is a game that should have just one exchange and leave it at that. There is no urgency about the time that it might take to ask the elected Chamber to think again. I am in favour of allowing the other place to think again. When you consider the wider history—we have just had reference made to it, quite rightly—we are going to allow a Bill of such magnitude to go through, shifting the balance of power between the Executive and the legislature in such a way, that people later on will look back and wonder why on earth the House did not express some degree of steadfastness in its view that the Government should think again. I shall vote for the amendment for that reason.

Photo of Lord Fox Lord Fox Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Business)

My Lords, this has been a fascinating debate, and I will not prolong it much. On Motion B1, the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, and indeed the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, who is unable to be here today, deserve, as they have already received, great congratulations. The Minister also should be commended on his flexibility in assuring and reassuring us that we will get the information we need. I hope the Minister can either talk to my noble friend’s question as to the timing and mechanics of keeping the dashboard up to date or give us a detailed letter at some point to let us know how that would happen; that would be helpful.

The substantive debate is around Motion E1. Again, the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, outlined with great detail and clarity the mechanics of how his amendment would work. He made it very clear that the debate in the Commons on the previous amendment has been taken on board very thoroughly in the formulation of this further amendment.

The noble Lord, Lord Jackson, used the word “invalidate” twice, but if he looks at this amendment again he will find that it does not invalidate anything around the purpose and intent of the Bill. What it would do is bring Parliament back into the frame, which is what the majority of your Lordships have been talking about today. That is important. Clause 15 takes very wide powers to revoke and replace retained EU regulation, and as the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, said, the level of this regulation is not normal bits-and-pieces regulation but is essentially primary law. It is not appropriate for statutory instruments to be used to not just change but completely replace primary law without a substantial role for Parliament.

The Minister talked about parliamentary scrutiny being at an appropriate level. It is clear that your Lordships have set out that we do not consider the current level to be appropriate, which is why this amendment is very important. The Government see it as a slippery slope, and will use that argument, but clearly, the exceptional nature of this situation means that it is not so.

Through this debate, I have come genuinely to respect the consistency and thoroughness of the view of the noble Lord, Lord Hamilton. He has been absolutely right about where the power should be in this argument. He talked about endless ping-pong, and I respectfully suggest that we are not proposing that; we are proposing one more ping and one more pong, and that is what we are debating now. That is why I side very much with the argument of the noble Lords, Lord Lisvane, and Lord Cormack, and others, and that is why we on these Benches will be supporting the amendment.

Photo of Baroness Chapman of Darlington Baroness Chapman of Darlington Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, Shadow Spokesperson (Business and Trade), Shadow Spokesperson (Treasury) 4:00, 6 June 2023

My Lords, I want to speak briefly to Motion E1 and to start by thanking the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, for his work on this amendment and throughout consideration of the Bill. Noble Lords will be aware that the amendment differs from the one we debated in Committee and on Report. They will also know that, since the Bill was first published, we have been concerned that it gives Ministers far too much power without reference to Parliament. Clause 15 was especially difficult for parliamentarians to accept, given the extraordinarily wide-ranging powers to rewrite regulations which, in effect, could have similar power to primary legislation. This point was made by the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, but it is worth repeating.

Motion E1 allows for a committee to consider regulations when they are rewritten by Ministers and, where necessary, to refer them to the House for consideration. This is a more modest suggestion than that proposed and agreed by this House at Report. As we have heard, a not dissimilar process was used for the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 and, as the noble Lord, Lord Lisvane, informed us, the Census Act.

Our view is that this approach is proportionate, not obstructive of the Government’s intentions and should be acceptable to them. We are concerned that the Commons has so far continued to push back on parliamentary scrutiny and views the procedure proposed by this House as inappropriate, but we hope that the newly constructed amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, will be welcomed by the Government and the other place.

The Commons has expressed a view, but we are returning to it a compromise. We on these Benches consider it to be the appropriate, reasonable and responsible thing to do. Following the question of the noble Lord, Lord Jackson, about whether we are imposing ourselves on the other place, I note that it adjourned a couple of hours ago and seems to have adequate time in its schedule to consider a rather modest suggestion from this House.

Photo of Lord Callanan Lord Callanan Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Energy Security and Net Zero)

My Lords, once again, we have had a full, worthy debate on the Bill. I will keep my response brief, as many of these points are well worn and we have largely covered them in opening the debate.

I say to the House that this is not just an ordinary legislative amendment; it is about the procedures of Parliament. It is not even about the procedures of this House; it is about the procedures of the other place. The amendment seeks for this House to say to the House of Commons, “We think that you should set up by legislation an entirely untested and novel way of conducting your scrutiny of secondary legislation”, when the House of Commons has already said it does not wish to do that and does not think it appropriate. It is entirely inappropriate for us to do that when we have already heard the answer once.

The Bill is vital, and now that we have taken back control of our statute book, it is essential to update and modernise by amending, repealing or replacing those rules and regulations that are no longer fit or were never fit for the UK. This will allow us to create a new pro-growth, high-standards regulatory framework to give businesses the confidence to innovate, invest and create jobs. It will provide legal certainty and clarity across the statute book, ensuring we have consistent rules of interpretation across the UK body of law.

Let me mention briefly some of the points raised in the debate. On Motions B and B1, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, for his speech. I hope that the House will move forward with Motion B.

Let me reply briefly to the question from the noble Baroness, Lady Ludford, on the timescale for this work. We will add Section 4 rights to the dashboard as identified at least as frequently as every six months, as per the reporting requirement clause that is already in the Bill.

With regards to Motion E1, as I have already said, the Government listened to the views of this House on a number of issues in the Bill. We have already modified the schedule massively to take account of the many concerns that were addressed. I have to say, I consider it an unfair characterisation that the Government have ignored this House—far from it. It is much to the contrary.

On the Motion itself, I can only stress to the House that we believe this proposed novel scrutiny procedure to be unnecessary. The House of Commons has said that it also believes it to be unnecessary. With the reporting requirements already in the Bill and the proven sifting committee procedure that we have already agreed, Parliament will have strong provisions to scrutinise any legislation that is brought forward under this Bill. In the Government’s view, the appropriate balance between the need for scrutiny and the need for reform has been struck. I therefore hope that noble Lords will not push forward this amendment.

Motion A agreed.

Motion B1 not moved.