Procedure Committee (Commons)

Exiting the European Union: scrutiny of delegated legislation inquiry

Inquiry status: open - accepting written submissions

Further call for evidence published

21 December 2017

The Committee has issued a further call for evidence seeking views on the operation of the proposed sifting committee to consider secondary legislation under the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.

Interim report published

6 November 2017

Scope of the inquiry

  • the provisions being made for Parliamentary scrutiny of delegated legislation in the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill and in the subsequent "Brexit bills" announced in the Queen's Speech and expected to be introduced during the present two-year session of Parliament.
  • the adequacy of procedures in the House of Commons for appropriate scrutiny of such delegated legislation.

Progress of the inquiry

Phase 1 of the inquiry: a sifting mechanism

The initial phase of the inquiry concentrated on the powers to enact delegated legislation claimed by the Government in Clauses 7, 8 and 9 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill and the procedures for Parliamentary scrutiny set out in Schedule 7 to the Bill.  An interim report, dealing with issues arising from this phase of the inquiry, was published on 6 November.

Amendments to the Bill

On 12 and 13 December 2017 amendments 392 to 398 tabled by the Chair of the Committee and supported by Committee members of all parties were considered in Committee of the Whole House and made to the Bill. They will be reflected in the print of the Bill “as amended in Committee” available on the Bill website at

Proposals for temporary standing orders

The Leader of the House has, at the Committee’s request, tabled to Future Business draft temporary standing orders to provide for the establishment and operation of a European Statutory Instruments Committee, the working title for the sifting committee envisaged in the Committee’s interim report. The text of the proposed standing orders is available on the Committee’s website here [hyperlink].

Provision in the Bill for a sifting mechanism

The amendments to the Bill provide for a sifting process as follows:

  • All regulations proposed to be made under the powers in clauses 7, 8 or 9 of the Bill, and which Ministers consider ought to be made under the negative procedure, shall be laid before the House of Commons.
  • During the ten sitting days after laying the Minister responsible may not make the instrument (i.e. sign it into law).
  • Within that period the Commons sifting committee may consider each instrument and report its recommendation that the instrument should be proceeded with under the affirmative procedure
  • After the statutory ten days have elapsed the Minister may proceed with the instrument under either
    o the affirmative procedure (i.e. the instrument requires a debate and a vote in both Houses before it may be made and brought into force) or
    o the negative procedure (i.e. the instrument is made and may be brought into force, but it will be annulled if either House passes a motion to annul it within 40 days of it being laid)

NB: The amendments tabled by the Chair relate only to scrutiny in the House of Commons, and are intended to be without prejudice to any scrutiny arrangements the House of Lords may determine in its consideration of the Bill.

Phase 2 of the inquiry: scrutiny arrangements

The Committee is moving to the next phase of its inquiry, covering the operation in the House of Commons of the scrutiny mechanism provided for in the Bill.

A further call for evidence was issued on 21 December 2017

Previous calls for evidence

Terms of reference Send a written submission


Next meeting(s)

There are currently no public meetings scheduled.

Proposed temporary Standing Orders for a sifting committee mechanism

On 7 December 2017 the Chair of the Committee wrote to the Leader of the House to request that a proposal for temporary standing orders to establish a committee to sift statutory instruments laid under certain provisions of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill be tabled on Future Business.

On 11 December 2017 the Leader of the House tabled the proposal below to the Future Business section of the Order Paper. This contains items of business expected to be taken in the House on a future day.

The Leader of the House has expressed the intention to move the motion to establish temporary Standing Orders once the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill has received Royal Assent.

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