Clause 22 - Commencement, transitional and savings

Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform Bill) – in a Public Bill Committee at on 29 November 2022.

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Amendment proposed (this day): 65, in clause 22, page 21, line 42, at end insert—

“(da) section [Disapplication of the UK Internal Market Act 2020];”

Question again proposed, That the amendment be made.

Photo of Gary Streeter Gary Streeter Conservative, South West Devon

I remind the Committee that with this we are considering new clause 2—Disapplication of the UK Internal Market Act 2020—

“Where Scottish Ministers have used any power granted to them under this Act—

(a) to provide that any EU-derived subordinate legislation or retained direct EU legislation is not subject to revocation at the end of 2023, or

(b) to restate any provision of retained EU law (or, as the case may be, assimilated law), that legislation or provision shall apply notwithstanding any provision of the UK Internal Market Act 2020.”

Question put, That the amendment be made.

Division number 16 Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform Bill) — Clause 22 - Commencement, transitional and savings

Aye: 2 MPs

No: 9 MPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

No: A-Z by last name

The Committee divided: Ayes 2, Noes 9.

Question accordingly negatived.

Photo of Brendan O'Hara Brendan O'Hara Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution), Shadow SNP Deputy Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

I beg to move amendment 62, in clause 22, page 22, line 5, at end insert—

“(3A) But no provision of this Act, other than this section, may come into force in relation to Scotland unless the Scottish Parliament has passed a motion consenting to the Act.”

This is the last of the amendments in my name and that of my hon. Friend the Member for Glenrothes, but it is arguably the most telling, because it gets to the nub of everything that we have said about the Bill, while putting the Government on the spot about their commitment to the devolution settlement. The amendment says that none of the Bill’s provisions can take effect on areas of devolved competence unless and until the Scottish Parliament has consented to the Bill through the granting of a legislative consent motion.

I have mentioned on numerous occasions in Committee the seemingly endless stream of warm words on how valued, respected, appreciated and indeed cherished Scotland is by this place, and on how absolutely catastrophic it would be if we decided to leave this not-so-voluntary and not particularly precious Union. The amendment is a litmus test of that commitment to devolution. It would allow the Scottish Parliament to operate as it has done, and as it has always intended to, by giving it the power to decide on matters in a whole raft of policy areas—indeed, on everything that is not specifically reserved to this place. In that spirit, and mindful of everything said by the Prime Minister and others in the past week, I ask: is it too much to ask the Government turn that stream of warm words into action, to accept this amendment, and to prove to the growing band of doubters north of the border that the Government respect Scottish democracy after all? This is, in many ways, the last chance for the Government to secure their support and turn the tide. I wonder whether they will take it.

Photo of Graham Stuart Graham Stuart Minister of State (Minister for Climate)

It is only right that all four nations of this United Kingdom should benefit from the ability to reform and amend retained EU law, so I reject the amendment. The Bill’s territorial scope is the whole UK. As such, all its key measures, including the sunset, will apply to the devolved Governments. That will ensure that we can amend or remove outdated EU-derived law that is no longer right for any part of the UK. The Bill is an essential piece of legislation that will enable the four nations of the UK to capitalise on the regulatory autonomy offered by our departure from the EU, and to fully realise the opportunities of Brexit.

Photo of Peter Grant Peter Grant Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Europe), Shadow SNP Deputy Spokesperson (Treasury - Chief Secretary)

Who is best placed to decide whether any of this retained EU law is in Scotland’s best interests? Is it the 5.5 million people who live in Scotland or the Minister?

Photo of Graham Stuart Graham Stuart Minister of State (Minister for Climate)

I would have thought the hon. Gentleman would still be smarting from finding out—from the Supreme Court, no less—that all the exaggerated, hyperbolic claims made by the Scottish National party had no grounding whatever. If he was a true democrat, he would respect that once-in-a-generation opportunity taken by the Scottish people, in which they were asked if they wished to stay part of this Parliament and this United Kingdom; and they decided that, yes, they would. It is on that basis that I reject the amendment. I am pleased that the Supreme Court agreed with any other well-informed commentator—other than those specially selected by the Scottish nationalist party—that we are behaving in an appropriate way that fully supports and respects Scottish democracy, and will continue to do so.

Photo of Peter Grant Peter Grant Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Europe), Shadow SNP Deputy Spokesperson (Treasury - Chief Secretary)

I genuinely and sincerely thank the Minister for the contemptuous way in which he has dismissed the demands of the people of Scotland, because he has added another couple of percentage points to their support for independence. Perhaps—appropriately, when we are discussing a Bill that is full of opportunities for the Government to change the law by mistake—he is single-handedly bringing independence day that wee bit nearer.

There is an important point here. The Minister claimed that in 2014 the people of Scotland were given the chance to decide our future. The chance to decide our future is not something we are given by some colonial overlord. The chance to decide our future is recognised in this place as a fundamental right, as, indeed, is the chance to decide whether the interests of Scotland are best served by a chaotic Brexit, as illustrated in this Bill, or by remaining in the European Union. I accept the Minister wants this country out of the European Union. It is time he respected that I want my country back in. If he wants to talk about the decision that was made in 2014—

Photo of Gary Streeter Gary Streeter Conservative, South West Devon

Order. I blame the Minister for taking us down a particular path, but I encourage the hon. Gentleman to stick to amendment 62.

Photo of Peter Grant Peter Grant Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Europe), Shadow SNP Deputy Spokesperson (Treasury - Chief Secretary)

I will stick to amendment 62, Sir Gary. The amendment is the last chance in the Bill to respect the decision of the people of Scotland in 2014. Among other things, they voted the way they did because they wanted to remain in the European Union, and they confirmed that with a 24% margin of victory in the 2016 referendum. If the Minister wants to respect the will of the people of Scotland in respect to our relationship with Europe, he will support the amendment, and his Whip, the hon. Member for Beaconsfield, will hold up a board telling Government Back Benchers to support it too.

Photo of Brendan O'Hara Brendan O'Hara Shadow SNP Spokesperson (International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution), Shadow SNP Deputy Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

Again, I am not remotely surprised that the Government have rejected the amendment; they have rejected every single amendment we have tabled in the past six sittings, over three days. We have given the Government ample opportunity to respect the devolution settlement and for them to say to the Scottish people, “Yes, we respect your Parliament. We respect your democracy. We respect that you have the right to do things differently, as enshrined in the devolution settlement,” but they have rejected every single opportunity they have been offered.

My hon. Friend the Member for Glenrothes is absolutely right to say that Scotland is being denied democracy. This Bill, coupled with the UK Internal Market Act 2020, is a full-on assault on Scottish democracy. I will not push the amendment to a vote, but I will return to this issue on Report. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Photo of Graham Stuart Graham Stuart Minister of State (Minister for Climate)

I beg to move amendment 7, in clause 22, page 22, line 9, at end insert—

“(b) the revocation of anything by section 1, or

(c) anything ceasing to be recognised or available in domestic law (and, accordingly, ceasing to be enforced, allowed or followed) as a result of section 3.”

This amendment provides that transitional, transitory or saving provision may be made in connection with anything sunsetted under Clause 1 or 3.

Photo of Gary Streeter Gary Streeter Conservative, South West Devon

With this it will be convenient to discuss clause stand part.

Photo of Graham Stuart Graham Stuart Minister of State (Minister for Climate)

The amendment clarifies the power to make transitional provisions for the sunset. Transitional provisions regulate transition from the current law to the law as it will be when amended by the Bill. For instance, transitional provisions could be made to ensure that laws that will fall away after the sunset continue to apply to certain types of ongoing contracts after the sunset date, if the contracts were entered into on the basis of those rules applying. Consequently, the amendment ensures consistency for businesses and citizens following the sunset’s effects. That is highly important, given the roles the Bill will play as a key driver for growth. I trust the Committee will support consistency and growth for British business and citizens, and thus will join me in voting for the amendment.

Photo of Justin Madders Justin Madders Shadow Minister (Future of Work), Shadow Minister (Business and Industrial Strategy)

As the Minister just said, Labour will support growth for British business, and we look forward to seeing some in the next 18 months, or maybe before. However, I have a couple of questions about the commencement dates.

Subsection (2) states:

“Section 18 comes into force…two months” after Royal Assent, whereas subsection (3) contains a much broader provision for Ministers of the Crown to implement different parts of the Act on different dates. As the Committee will have gathered from my comments this morning, I think that that will be sooner rather than later for much of this Bill, but will the Minister explain the difference? Why is there a specific date for section 18, but a much broader power for the remaining provisions?

Subsection (5) refers to various pieces of legislation, including the Financial Services and Markets Act 2022, Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority rules, and the Financial Services (Banking Reform) Act 2013, as not being applicable to this Act. We have tried to exclude and carve out various pieces of legislation from this Bill, because we believe that some provisions are important for our constituents. I wonder what the rationale is for deciding that those particular provisions are so special that they deserve that treatment.

Photo of Graham Stuart Graham Stuart Minister of State (Minister for Climate)

In short, it is because clause 18 covers the business impact target, which is an internal Government process, so I hope that answers the hon. Gentleman’s question.

Amendment 7 agreed to.

Question put, That the clause, as amended, stand part of the Bill.

Division number 17 Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform Bill) — Clause 22 - Commencement, transitional and savings

Aye: 9 MPs

No: 2 MPs

Aye: A-Z by last name

No: A-Z by last name

The Committee divided: Ayes 9, Noes 2.

Question accordingly agreed to.

Clause 22, as amended, ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 23 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Gary Streeter Gary Streeter Conservative, South West Devon

We come to new clause 1, which has already been debated. I call Brendan O’Hara to move new clause 1 formally.

Photo of Peter Grant Peter Grant Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Europe), Shadow SNP Deputy Spokesperson (Treasury - Chief Secretary)

On a point of order, Sir Gary. I am looking for some clarification. The earlier amendments that would have introduced these new clauses were voted down, so we were unsure whether the new clauses themselves could still be voted on, or whether they had automatically been deemed to have fallen.

Photo of Gary Streeter Gary Streeter Conservative, South West Devon 2:15, 29 November 2022

I think I have made a slight error, so we will move on. The new clauses have fallen—my apologies.