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Lords completes committee stage of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill

8 November 2022

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The House of Lords completed its detailed examination of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill in committee stage, on Monday 7 November.

The Northern Ireland Protocol Bill will provide the basis to amend the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, included in the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement, in UK domestic law. The bill seeks to do this by disapplying elements of the Protocol and delegating powers to Ministers to make new laws regarding the Protocol and implement agreements with the EU.

Line by line examination 

Committee stage is the first chance for line by line examination of the bill. 

Proposed changes

Four days of committee stage were scheduled:

  • 25 October
  • 31 October
  • 2 November
  • 7 November

Members speaking on day four of committee stageput forward amendments(PDF) (changes) to discuss. 

These amendments covered a range of subjects, including: 

  • removing ministerial power to engage in any conduct in relation to any matter dealt with in the Northern Ireland Protocol (clause 18)
  • the position of the negotiations with the EU and seeking further clarity on them from the government
  • engagement with the UK's devolved Administrations regarding international agreements
  • the role of the Northern Ireland Assembly in respect of the role of the European Court (CJEU).

Members said they would return to some of these issues at report stage

Catch up

Explore further information

Read background on the bill in the House of Lords Library Northern Ireland Protocol briefing.

Next steps

Report stage, an opportunity to closely scrutinise elements of the bill and make changes, is yet to be scheduled.

What's happened so far?

Committee stage day three: Wednesday 2 November

Proposed changes

Members speaking on day three of committee stageput forward amendments (PDF) (changes) to discuss. 

These amendments covered a range of subjects, including: 

  • removing sections of the bill where the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee have raised concerns about the powers given to ministers
  • consultation with government departments in Northern Ireland, business organisations, human rights and equalities bodies.

Catch up

Committee stage day two: Monday 31 October

Proposed changes

Members speaking on day two of committee stage put forward amendments (PDF) (changes) to discuss. 

These amendments covered a range of subjects, including: 

  • approval of the Northern Ireland Assembly before the measures contained in the bill can be used to limit the general implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol
  • parts of the bill which contain inappropriate delegations of power
  • the dual regulatory regime.

Catch up

Committee stage day one: Tuesday 25 October

Proposed changes

Members speaking on day one of committee stage put forward amendments (PDF) (changes) to discuss. 

These amendments covered a range of subjects, including: 

  • setting conditions on ministers' powers created by the bill
  • requiring the consent of the Northern Ireland Assembly
  • setting conditions on the limitation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

An amendment motion was put forward by Baroness Chapman of Darlington (Labour) calling for information to be provided before the bill has its report stage, including:

  • a government response to the 7th Report of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee
  • an impact assessment outlining the likely consequences of the bill's powers on Northern Ireland business
  • publication of draft regulations which may be laid using the powers in the bill
  • a report to Parliament on the status of negotiations with the EU.

The motion did not go to a vote but FCDO minister, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, responded saying the government was in 'thinking mode'. He said it will reflect on these points, which the House will return to as the bill progresses.

Catch up

Second reading: Tuesday 11 October

Members discussed the main issues in the bill and drew attention to specific areas where they thought amendments (changes) were needed during second reading. Topics covered during the debate included:

  • practical problems for people and businesses in Northern Ireland, including disruption and diversion to east-west trade
  • political and social stress in Northern Ireland, including the non-functioning of the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly
  •  the importance of negotiation, and reaching a negotiated agreement on the Protocol. 

Members speaking

Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon (Conservative), Minister of State in the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, opened the debate. Lord Stewat of Dirleton, Advocate General for Scotland, responded on behalf of the government.

Speakers in the debate included members of the Lords Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland Sub-Committee and:

  • Lord Bew (Crossbench), professor of Irish Politics, Queen's University Belfast and member of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly
  • Lord Frost (Conservative), former Cabinet Office Minister with oversight for implementing the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement, including the Protocol
  • Lord Morrow (DUP), former member of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the EU Committee of the Regions
  • Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick (Labour) director of Co-operation Ireland and advisory board chair of the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building
  • Baroness Suttie (Liberal Democrat), Lords Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Northern Ireland and former policy adviser in the European Parliament.

Additional motion

During second reading, members also considered a motion, proposed by Lord Cormack (Conservative), regreting that the bill was being introduced too early, and calling on the government to delay further consideration for six months to allow time to reach a negotiated settlement with the EU.

The motion was withdrawn after being debated.

Find out more about the issues discussed: catch up on Parliament TV or read a transcript in Lords Hansard.

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