Exiting the European Union Committee

The progress of the UK’s negotiations on EU withdrawal: role of Parliament inquiry

Inquiry status: Concluded

Due to the general election on 12 December 2019 the Committee has now closed this inquiry. Following the dissolution of Parliament on 6 November, all Select Committees will cease to exist until after the general election. If an inquiry on this subject is held in the future, the Committee may refer to the evidence already gathered as part of this inquiry.

Scope of the inquiry

The Government will have a large amount of legislation, both primary and secondary, to pass before exit day in the event of a deal being reached or a no deal or before the end of the transition / implementation period if a deal is ratified to maintain legal certainty and a functioning statute book. DExEU Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, listed at least 8 Bills and nearly 300 statutory instruments that needed to pass through Parliament in evidence to us in January.

In our Tenth Report we also recommended that Parliament have a central role in the scrutiny of negotiations on the future relationship, with opportunities for agreeing a mandate for the Government, maintaining oversight of the progress and conduct of negotiations, and a meaningful and timely role for the House in approving any agreements. The Government’s no deal technical notices also envisage a range of sector specific side deals with the EU to mitigate disruption.

We note that other committees have announced or conducted inquiries into treaty scrutiny, including a recent report by the International Trade Committee calling for greater transparency and scrutiny and a role for parliamentary committees, the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee’s inquiry into the Role of Parliament in the UK Constitution, and the Lords Constitution Committee’s inquiry into Parliamentary Scrutiny of Treaties.

We will draw on that work in our evidence and in the conclusions we reach on Parliament’s role in the event of both a deal and a no deal exit from the EU.

Terms of reference

The Committee is interested in examining the following areas:

  • What legislation Parliament needs to pass ahead of withdrawal to provide for a functioning statute book;
  • What the challenges are for achieving this whether the UK exits with a deal or without a deal;
  • In the event that a deal is ratified, what role Parliament should have in scrutiny of negotiations on the Future Relationship, and whether this role should be established in the legislation implementing the Withdrawal Agreement;
  • In the event of a no deal exit, what role Parliament should have in scrutiny of any subsequent agreements reached with the EU;
  • What role Parliament should have in scrutiny of the rolling-over of existing international treaties;
  • Whether there is sufficient transparency in the Government’s approach to conclusion of international agreements; whether Parliament’s role needs to be clarified in respect of access to documents and the role of Select Committees or strengthened in respect of powers to approve negotiation mandates and ratification of agreements;
  • What might the UK Parliament learn from models of treaty scrutiny in other countries?

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