Some constituents have contacted me to ask for my support for Dominic Grieve’s amendments on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.
The debate on these amendments will be taking place later on this month. At this stage, I don’t know if or when the all of the amendments will be debated or voted on – that’s in the hands of the Speaker, who decides which amendments are debated and in what order.
I do understand and appreciate the point some constituents are making, which is about the types of powers given to Ministers by the Bill. Earlier on in the scrutiny of this Bill, at Second Reading which goes over general principles, the Lord Chancellor addressed these concerns directly:
“Above all, the debate has centred on delegated powers, and I emphasise that the Bill already contains significant safeguards, which the debate has sometimes tended to overlook. Each of the four clauses that authorise secondary legislation has a defined purpose, and a statutory instrument made under such a clause cannot be made to do something else. It has to deliver something that is within the purpose defined in that clause. If we look at clause 7, for example, the power to make a statutory instrument is limited to something that will put right a failure or deficiency in retained EU law ‘arising from the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU.’
That power cannot be exercised for any other purpose. A Minister cannot make regulations because he dislikes the underlying policy or indeed because he dislikes the underlying EU law, but only when there is a problem with the operability of a piece of EU law that has been brought about by this country’s departure from the EU.”
The campaign template forwarded to me by some constituents rightly says, “When lawmaking powers return to Westminster after Brexit, there should be proper debates and votes… Important decisions shouldn’t be made by ministers behind closed doors.” This Bill does not hand powers to Ministers to do things behind closed doors; instead it gives them delegated powers to put decisions before Parliament in the format of secondary legislation. I’m sure you already know that simply means that it’s reviewed by a committee of MPs rather than all MPs; that allows more to be done; and that’s important because there is a lot to do to enact Brexit.
Beyond this general point, I can’t say more about the debate or any potential votes on amendments right now because it hasn’t happened yet. However, I hope this is helpful as far as it goes and I’m grateful to you for your campaign email.
I blogged about this Bill in July – here’s a link to what I said then http://www.chloesmith.org.uk/brexit#Great_Repeal_Bill
You’ll see I’ve got lots of other Brexit material there too for constituents who are following the issue.