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:
- Law enforcement and security
- Merchant shipping and passengers' rights
- International road haulage and licensing of operators
- Immigration, nationality and asylum
- Practice rights for lawyers in Switzerland and the European Economic Area (EEA)
- Maintenance payments for children
The Brexit SIs under examination on Monday 18 March were 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 non-domestic rating.
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
Two of the SIs under consideration had regret motions proposed against them. If these motions had been agreed to, they would not have stopped the regulations, but would have provided the House with an opportunity to put on record its regret for the specified reasons:
Lord Paddick (Liberal Democrat) proposed a regret motion against the regulations regarding law enforcement and security.This regulation was debated in Grand Committee, a room outside the main chamber, on 12 March.
The regret motion was laid on the grounds that the regulations cover policy areas that are individually of such significant concern that they should not be considered together and that the government has provided insufficient information in relation to the instrument's objectives and intended implementation.
Lord Kennedy of Southwark (Labour) proposed a regret motion against the regulations regarding the immigration of European Economic Area (EEA) nationals.
This regret motion was laid on the grounds that:
- the SI changes the status of EEA nationals entering or already resident in the UK and such changes should be scrutinised by both the Commons and Lords as part of the Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill
- the government has failed to provide details on the practicalities of the varying types of leave to remain, how they will be enforced, the length of the application process and the impact on the individuals affected
Members discussed the regret motions on the floor of the House, which were then withdrawn without a vote.
Following the debates on the floor of the House, 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 A) reported on the regulations making changes to laws on law enforcement and security, merchant shipping standards, international road haulage and immigration, nationality and asylum.
SLSC (Sub-Committee B) reported on SIs making changes to laws on merchant shipping passengers' rights and EEA nationals .