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Government must do more to meet commitments to Parliamentary scrutiny

Thursday 3 September 2020

On Monday, the Lords will debate whether the Government is doing enough to allow Parliamentary scrutiny of its international agreements.

The Lords will on Monday debate the International Agreements Committee’s report on how treaties are scrutinised, along with similar reports by the Constitution Committee and the European Union Committee.

All three reports highlight the need for the Government to take practical steps to ensure that Parliament has the information and time it needs to scrutinise new agreements with other countries, including new trade deals and agreements on human rights, climate change, and extradition. Without those steps, the formal process under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 may become untenable, the Committees have warned.

Lord Goldsmith QC, Chair of the International Agreements Committee, said:

“Parliament has to be able to scrutinise new treaties that the Government makes, as much as it has to scrutinise new laws proposed by Government. We are in a new era where the UK will be making many important new international agreements outside the EU. These new treaties can be just as crucial as the laws we make in parliament. Therefore, this scrutiny is of great importance to the people of the UK. That means new processes and practices to make this work.

“We will therefore be asking the government on Monday to reaffirm to the House of Lords its commitment to effective and well-informed scrutiny by Parliament of the international commitments the Government is making for the UK. I hope the Government will be able to confirm just how it proposes to work with parliament to ensure that scrutiny. This matters already, as the UK looks to wrap up talks with Japan on a new trade deal and is negotiating new deals with the USA, Australia and New Zealand. We hope we will be able to do our job effectively, but that means the government has to work with us and give us the time and information to do so.”

As well as the Chairs, Lord Goldsmith QC, Baroness Taylor of Bolton and Lord Kinnoull, members expected to speak in the debate include:

  • Lord Lansley
  • Lord Boswell of Aynho
  • Baroness Noakes
  • Baroness Donaghy
  • Lord Beith
  • Baroness Goudie
  • Lord Bruce of Bennachie
  • Baroness McIntosh of Pickering

Further details, including the full speakers list, is available here.

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