As the Government continues to prepare for the UK’s departure from the EU, a significant amount of primary and secondary legislation will be required to pass through Parliament before exit day or the end of any agreed transition/implementation period.
This will be needed to maintain legal certainty and a functioning statute book, regardless of whether the UK departs having ratified an agreement or under a no-deal scenario.
Appearing before the Committee in January, DExEU Minister Chris Heaton-Harris cited at least eight bills and nearly 300 Statutory Instruments. The Government’s no-deal technical notices also envisage a range of sector-specific ‘side deals’ with the EU to mitigate against disruption caused.
Committee Chair Hilary Benn MP said:
“Throughout the Brexit process, this Committee has always argued for Parliament to be given a full and proper role, and a vote on what has been negotiated.
“In the coming weeks, we will examine what that role should include in practice, as well as what needs to be done to ensure the UK statute book is adequately prepared for the various exit scenarios. These are not only vital questions as March 29 approaches, but in longer-term discussions regarding the mandate for negotiating and ratifying the future relationship between the UK and EU.”
Terms of reference
As part of its ongoing inquiry into the progress of negotiations, the Committee has announced an additional call for evidence on 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?
Looking ahead to negotiations on the future relationship, recommendations from the Committee’s 10th report called for Parliament to exercise a key scrutinising function, including: an opportunity to agree a mandate for the Government, oversight on the progress and conduct of negotiations, and a meaningful role for Parliament in ratifying future agreements.
The deadline for submitting written evidence is Friday 1 March 2019.