EU Action: Parliamentary Scrutiny:Written question - HL5654

Asked on: 01 February 2016
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
EU Action: Parliamentary Scrutiny
Lords
To ask Her Majesty’s Government, for each government department, from July to December 2015, on how many occasions the scrutiny reserve resolution in (1) the House of Lords, and (2) the House of Commons, was overridden, and in respect of how many documents an override occurred in (1) both Houses, or (2) either House.
Answered on: 15 February 2016

Between July and December 2015, 434 Explanatory Memoranda on EU documents were submitted for scrutiny. There were 54 occasions when the Government supported decisions in the EU Council of Ministers before the scrutiny procedures had been completed by either one or both Scrutiny Committees. In each case the Government wrote to the Scrutiny Committees to explain the reasons why it was important for the Government to support the proposal before the scrutiny process could be completed or where the Committees were unable to provide a waiver for the Government to support the proposal whilst retaining the issue under scrutiny. As with previous six-monthly periods, the largest category of instrument were fast-moving EU restrictive measures where there were overrides on 40 such measures (74 per cent of the total number) of which 12 measures addressed the situation in Iran.

The figures requested are set out below:

Department

(1). House of Lords Override

(2). House of Commons override

(1). No. of overrides in both Houses

(2). Total no. of overrides

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

42

44

41

45

HM Treasury

7

7

7

7

Culture, Media and Sport

1

1

1

1

Food Standards Agency

0

1

0

1

Totals

50

53

49

54

I refer the noble Lord to my answer of 29 July 2015 (HL1633) which presented the figures for overrides for the period January-June 2015. That answer contained two errors. In a letter dated 16 September 2015 to the Chairs of the two Scrutiny Committees, the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my right hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr Lidington), undertook to correct the errors when providing figures for the period July-December 2015. One Foreign and Commonwealth Office override on the Council decision extending the mandate of the EU Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina had been counted twice. This brings the overall total down from 90 to 89. The total in the House of Lords (54) is unchanged since the Committee cleared that proposal before adoption, but it does reduce the number declared for the House of Commons from 86 to 85. The answer also stated that the 39 measures (the largest category of the total) were the Common Foreign and Security Policy restrictive measures. A recalculation has shown the figure to be 38. The earlier answer also highlighted an unresolved issue of whether an override needed to be recorded against a Commission Communication on the Paris Protocol (‘A Blueprint for tackling Global Climate Change beyond 2020’) because discussion with the European Scrutiny Committee had at that stage not been concluded. It was subsequently agreed that agreement of the document did not need to be recorded as a scrutiny override.

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