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. Registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals (REACH)
2. Common Fisheries Policy and aquaculture
3. Common Agricultural Policy, agriculture and livestock
4. Customs operators registration and safety and security procedures
5. Collecting information from individuals who are carrying cash in excess of £10,000 into or out of the UK
6. Third country legislation
7. Import, export and trade in cat and dog fur
8. Regulation of dual-use items and firearms
The Brexit SIs under examination on Tuesday 26 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.
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 Fox (Liberal Democrat) proposed a motion to decline the approval on the regulations regarding the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals (REACH).
If this motion had been agreed to, it would have stopped the regulations from passing on the grounds that the government has provided insufficient information on the impact of the proposed changes, in particular:
- additional responsibilities being transferred to the Health and Safety Executive and its readiness to act as a national regulator
- potential costs for the chemical and advance manufacturing industries in the UK
- potential duplication of testing on animals
- upholding environmental protection
After a short debate the motion to decline was withdrawn without a vote.
Motion to regret
Lord Whitty (Labour), proposed a regret motion against the REACH regulations.
If agreed to, this motion would not have stopped the regulations, but would have provided an opportunity for the House to put on record its regret that they fail to fulfil the Prime Minister's intention to maintain the UK's participation in the European Chemicals Agency.
Members voted on the regret motion, with 214 in favour and 202 against, and so the motion was agreed to.
Following the debates in the House of Lords, all of 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 the Common Fisheries Policy and aquaculture, agricultural products, customs operators registration, customs security and safety and cash controls.
SLSC (Sub-Committee B) reported on one SI making changes to laws on livestock records, identification and movement.
The Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments drew special attention to the law on trade in dual-use items and firearms.