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Planned new Government legal powers “unjustified and ill-considered” - Lords committee

Proposed new powers for ministers to implement future private international law agreements would “weaken the role of Parliament”, Peers have warned.

The House of Lords Constitution Committee - in a report published today (4 May) - has urged the Government to drop part of the Private International Law (Implementation of Agreements) Bill.

Private international law governs cases such as contract disputes or divorces which raise cross-border issues, determining which country's court has jurisdiction, which laws apply and how one nation's courts will recognise another's judgments.

Clause 2 of the Bill would give Government the power to implement international agreements which change UK law through Statutory Instruments rather than by Acts of Parliament.

The Committee is “not convinced” by the Government's arguments, saying:
“This is a significant new power that would change the way this type of international agreement is implemented in UK law and how Parliament scrutinises them.

“Deletion of clause 2 would not affect the important and necessary measures in the Bill.  It would simply remove a power for the Government to implement future private international law agreements without primary legislation and its attendant scrutiny.”

The Committee also wants the Government to set out the consultation it undertook on the Bill and explain why it did not consult its own advisory committee.

Read the Committee's report online.

The Bill had its second reading in the House of Lords on 17 March.

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