Repeal Bill Alliance Bulletin

Welcome to the first Repeal Bill alliance bulletin. I hope you find this informative and gives some indication of the scope of the alliance over the next few months.

Repeal Bill

...Or more formally The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill was published on July 13th and is widely considered to be one of the largest, and most complex, pieces of legislation ever seen in the UK. The ramifications for civil society are evident.  On the one hand the Bill may present an opportunity to improve some of our laws and to deliver better services and protection for people, on the other the lack of time, scrutiny and understanding could lead to significant flaws.

What does the bill do?

Clause 1 repeals the European Communities Act 1972 although it is not automatically triggered on 29 March 2019 (the 2 year anniversary of Article 50 being triggered). In fact, it is for Ministers to determine when “exit day” is (clause 14(1)).

The rest of the bill and schedules do the following: 

  • Create of a new distinct body of law known as “retained EU law” (clauses 2, 3 and 4) This new and distinct category of law will have its own particular characteristics, and much of the Bill is devoted to creating rules and practical arrangements for how it will work.
  • Give the government broadly-framed delegated powers  in Clauses 7, 8 and 9 to alter this body of law give instructions to the courts on how to interpret retained EU law amend the legislation that underpins devolution.
     

Some sticking points

The crux of the problem is that the government is asking for powers but it does not know - at this stage - what it will actually need them for. The context in which the powers will be applied will vary largely depending on the outcome of negotiations. The government will lean heavily on the need for broad powers to enable them to react to whatever comes out of negotiations.

The Hansard Society have produce a helpful overview here

The government is asking for delegated powers to make ‘technical’ or ‘administrative’ changes to a body of law that will be known as ‘retained EU law’.  Delegated powers are subject to completely different scrutiny procedures when compared with primary legislation, which is what most parliamentarians are sed to.

It is the application of delegated legislation that is important . It may be helpful to refer to the Hansard Society's FAQ here.

There is also a looming constitutional issue with the Scottish and Welsh governments as reported in th press. urrent proposals are that European powers come back to London in the first instance rather than Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. Both Carwyn Jones and Nicola Sturgeon have accused thovernment of a naked power grab andsaid that as the bill stands they will be withholding legislative consent.

You can read Unlock Democracy’s briefing on the bill online  here.

Timeframe

ates for the Second Reading are set for Thursday 7th and Tuesday 12th September. It is understood  that the government will not propose a programme motion for the bill. This means that there is no fixed / limited time for the bill to proceed through parliament and therefore we don't know exactly when the bill will go through committee or and how long this will take but it is expected the committee stage will start as soon as party conference season is over.

The plan is for the bill to complete its passage through Parliament well before the point at which the UK leaves, but for it to include ‘commencement provisions’ enabling ministers to bring it into force at a moment of their choosing, most likely "from the day we leave the European Union." This will be on 29 March 2019, although if Article 50 negotiations are extended it may be later. The bill refers extensively to the “exit date” but does not name the day.
 

What will the alliance do?

With so many sectors affected, from human rights, environment, consumer, workers’ rights, equality, democracy, transparency, food, farming, education and trade, there is appetite to collaborate on the bill.

Given the timing, and the complexity of the legislation, there is going to be a real need and huge opportunity, to bring the expertise of all the sectors to law makers and opinion-formers as well as an opportunity to mobilise and inform.

he alliance will be signposting politicians and decision-makers to areas of expertise and knowledge that exists within the group. As the complexity of the Repeal Bill becomes more and more evident politicians and civil servants should view this as a valuable resource. There is strength in numbers and the alliance is now sharing information and best practice, pooling resource, doing advocacy work, and utilising the very experienced legal expertise that exists within the alliance.

The mechanics of much of the work of the alliance will be undertaken by a Bill Group and Working group – meeting before the Second Reading. There is a website (still in development)  and where you can find further resources:

https://repealbill.org/


Key Events

Briefing on the bill with the Repeal Bill Allianc

Committee Room 19, 15:00 - 16.30, 5th September

Obviously the Second Reading on September 7th will be significant. The alliance has convened a meeting with specialists to help inform parliamentarians about the key elements of the bill and some of the potential problems and pitfalls.It will also be an opportunity to hear from organisations on the significance of the bill as it relates to specific issues and policy areas.

Drop-in sessions on the Repeal Bill

Room U, Portcullis House, 14:00-15:30, 5th September

PLUS the alliance is holding a drop-in session for individuals who wish to know some more details, have specific queries or who cannot make the briefing session.

We hope to see you at one of the briefings sessions. It would also be helpful to ensure parliamentarians you are talking to now come to the event. So please remind them.

ESRC UK in a Changing Europ initiative, Cardiff University’s Wales Governance Centre and the Hansard Society are hosting a public event on Tuesday 12th Septembe n London to discuss the critical issues raised by the Bill

Further details here

Did you know?

- Statutory Instruments are rarely rejected. Since 1950 the House of Commons has rejected just 11 instruments and the House of Lords has rejected 7 (2 of which were decisions to delay). This equates to 0.01% of the total SIs considered since 1965.

- The Parliament Act does not apply to delegated legislation and therefore, unlike primary legislation, rejection in the House of Lords cannot be over-ridden by the Commons after delay. However in practice, Peers are mindful of the primacy of the elected House and therefore use its veto power sparingly.

- The impact of this bill will be far reaching as the scope/reach of existing EU legislation into our everyday lives means we will all feel the impact of change. While the government’s white paper says there is no ‘single figure’, it is believed that there are 12,000 EU regulations in force with Parliament passing 7,900 measures that implement EU legislation

Jacob MB