A statutory instrument (SI), a type of secondary legislation, is a law created under powers given by an Act of Parliament. It is used to fill in the details of Acts (primary legislation).
The proposed SIs make changes to laws on:
1. Animal and plant health, seeds and seed potatoes
2. Flying the UK and EU flags in Northern Ireland on Europe Day
The Brexit SIs under examination on Wednesday 3 April are all made under the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 and are changes to the law to be made in the event of the UK leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement.
In addition to the EU exit regulations, the House also debated one other SI on the electricity capacity market.
All these SIs are made under the draft affirmative procedure, meaning they need to be approved by both Houses of Parliament before they can be made (signed into law) and brought into effect as law. Draft affirmative SIs can be stopped if either House votes against the government’s motion calling for the SI to be approved.
Motion against the regulations
Lord Bruce of Bennachie (Liberal Democrat), proposed a regret motion against the regulations on flying the UK and EU flags in Northern Ireland on Europe Day.
If agreed to, this motion would not stop the regulations, but would provide an opportunity for the House to put on record its regret that the draft regulations are unnecessary as there is no value in prohibiting the flying of the flags in Northern Ireland on Europe Day, which celebrates peace and prosperity in Europe.
Members voted on the regret motion, with 55 in favour and 155 against, and so the motion was not agreed to.
Following the debates in the chamber all the SIs under consideration were approved.
The House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee (SLSC) examines every SI, including all EU Exit SIs. It publishes reports drawing members' attention to SIs.
SLSC (Sub-Committee B) reported on the SI making changes to laws on flying the UK and EU flags in Northern Ireland.