Easter E Bulletin - Have a GOOD FRIDAY

Northern Ireland civil society meets with peers and MPs

This week the Alliance was delighted to welcome delegates from Northern Ireland civil society groups and host a briefing in the House of Lords. Representatives from the Human Rights Consortium Northern Ireland, Children’s Law Centre, the Committee on the Administration of Justice and Unison Northern Ireland spoke passionately about the importance of protecting the Good Friday Agreement. As we move closer to votes in the Lords to be able to convey the sense of urgency on getting this right for everyone on both sides of the border is an imperative. Their joint briefing is available here and we ask you to share this widely.

Comittee Stage in the House of Lords now completed. For those who want details of the last day then read here. The one thing that is evident is that peers are now rushing to get cross party agreement (and support) for their favoured amendments -  and the sooner they can get the amendments down the better.

What Next?

Most of the key amendments for peers have been done and will have been submitted. However there is some speculation that key amendments from the government, notbaly around devolution - Clause 11, Schedule 2 - may not be published until right at the last minute. This is tactic to possibly stop any positioning/response from the devolved nations but it comes at a price. It means that it may be harder to get the necessary cross Party support and may actually harden resolve.  Peers can also put down amendments during Report Stage but its clear that there is sense that peers only now want to push those that are likely to have some success back in the House of Commons.

Rumour has it that peers will be coalescing around 15 or so key amendments that they will be urging colleagues to throw their weight behind. We should have a better sense of what those are next week. But it is clear that M’Lords have a clear tactic approach now and are keen to inject some discipline and gets some meaningful wins.

Voting will start the day after the House of Lords returns from Easter recess - so day 1 of Report Stage will be April 18th, and due to finish the first week of May.

Alliance members will be meeting over the next few weeks and before April 18th to consider amendments.

We will also be following up from our Devolution Round Table yesterday and think how we can build on the important coalition building being done in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Read our most recent devolution briefing here

Some titbits from the final days of the Commitee Stage in the Lords

On Monday peers debated the remaining devolution amendments and peers signaled again their dissatisfaction with the devolution aspects of the bill. Lord Wallace of Tankerness (Lib Dem) introduced an amendment which put a sunset clause on the restrictions in clause 11- to which Government minister Baroness “we have proposed an obligation to report to Parliament every three months on the progress we had made towards repealing the restrictions and implementing the new arrangements where needed”. Following on from the discussion last week on ‘consent’ vs ‘consult’, Lord Wigley’s amendment 313 proposed that the UK government seek consent before implementing clause 11.

There was also cross-party consensus that UK wide frameworks should be formed through primary legislation. On behalf of the Government,  Lord Duncan reassured peers that that was the intention and that the Government “will move forward with this through primary legislation in each of the common framework areas”. Crossbencher and former permanent secretary in the Foreign Office Lord Jay of Ewelme also spoke to his amendment which would mean that in the event of no deal, the UK's position should be considered by Parliament before any final decision is taken. Brexit Minister Lord Callanan says he can't accept the amendment from Lord Jay because it would render some parts of the bill "inoperable but he remains "confident we can reach a positive agreement".

HAVE A GREAT EASTER!
The House of Commons Library has produced a  briefing on the Continuity Bills which is well worth reading - http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-8275/CBP-8275.pdf 

Malene Bratlie