The Constitution Committee has published a report on the constitutional issues in the Government’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill. The Bill is of the highest constitutional significance, given its intended effect of implementing Brexit.
The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill completed its House of Commons stages on 9 January and was introduced into the House of Lords later that day. Its second reading took place on 13 January and committee stage is expected to take place on 14-16 January.
The Committee has scrutinised this Bill to complement the findings of the European Union Committee and the Delegated Power and Regulatory Reform Committee (DPRRC).
The Committee has examined and made recommendations on several issues including:
- clause 26, which would empower ministers to order courts to depart from retained EU laws;
- that the Government should set out what its process for consultation and engagement with the devolved authorities will be;
- the role of Parliament departing from the 2018 Act and Parliament no longer having oversight of negotiations; and
- delegated powers, including extensive use of Henry VIII powers, and the need for a sifting mechanism to scrutinise statutory instruments.
Baroness Taylor, Chair of the Committee, said:
"The Government should reconsider the implications of clause 26 and the potential for significant legal uncertainty if lower courts are to be given the power to depart from previous CJEU case law and previous domestic interpretations of retained EU law. The Government should also provide for a sifting process for the scrutiny of instruments made under the bill, as recommended by the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee."