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European Union (Withdrawal) Act – Passed

This Bill started its passage through Parliament on 2 April 2019 and looks to remove a bargaining chip from the UK in it’s discussions with the EU to prevent No Deal. The Bill completed its passage through Parliament (House of Commons and House of Lords) on 08 April 2019.

In trying to understand the consequences of this legislation it is useful to explore a Research Briefing prepared for the House of Commons:

https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-8541#fullreport

By the automatic operation of EU law, the UK leaves the EU on 12 April 2019 regardless of whether a deal has been ratified. The purpose of the Bill is to reduce the risk of the UK leaving the EU without a deal, or at least to delay that outcome beyond 12 April 2019 if that is what MPs want and the European Council is prepared to agree to it.

An important point here is that any extension needs to be agreed by the EU Council! They can reject a selected extension and/or propose their own date.

The day after the day on which this Bill gets Royal Assent, the Prime Minister would have to table a motion. This motion must seek Commons approval for a proposal that the UK asks the European Council for an extension to Article 50. The motion must set out the Prime Minister’s preferred extension date.

Following Royal Assent of the Bill on 08 April 2019 (when it became Law) the following Motion has been tabled for debate on 9 April 2019

The Prime Minister

That this House agrees for the purposes of section 1 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019 to the Prime Minister seeking an extension of the period specified in Article 50(3) of the Treaty on European Union to a period ending on 30 June 2019.

As it happens the PM has already written to Donald Tusk (on 5 April 2019) requesting an extension to 30 June 2019 with an option to terminate early. Has the fast tracking of this Bill through Parliament been a complete waste of time ?

If the EU offers a different extension to the one proposed, the PM the must seek approval from the House of Commons before the revised date can be agreed with the EU.

The Act also provides a further role for the Commons in the event that the European Council does not agree to the Prime Minister’s request but proposes an alternative date. In those circumstances, the Prime Minister would have to seek further Commons approval before agreeing to that revised date and thereby giving effect to it in EU law.

The full report is available in the attached document issued by the House of Commons library

European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill 2017-19

European Union (Withdrawal) (No.5) Bill

This is a Bill being fast-tracked in the House of Commons, with all its substantive stages taken in a single sitting on one day. It is expected to also be fast-tracked in the House of Lords.

Bill as introduced

The Bill was debated on 3 April 2019 through its Second Reading (Hansard: http://bit.ly/2IcSO1h )

and Committee Stage (Hansard: http://bit.ly/2Un8e9R )

Debate on the Second Reading of the Bill started at 5:54 pm and was put to a vote at 7:00 pm after 1 hour 6 minutes of debate

The voting results were

Ayes: 315 Noes: 310

and the Bill passed (by a majority of 5), its second reading, after 1 hour 6 minutes of debate.

14 “Remain” Tory rebels voted in favour of passing the second reading.

Bebb, Guto
Brine, Steve
Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth
Djanogly, Mr Jonathan
Greening, rh Justine
Grieve, rh Mr Dominic
Gyimah, Mr Sam
Harrington, Richard
Lee, Dr Phillip
Letwin, rh Sir Oliver
Morgan, rh Nicky
Sandbach, Antoinette
Spelman, rh Dame Caroline
Vaizey, rh Mr Edward

The Committee Stage of the Bill began immediately following the result of the vote on the Second Reading.

The debate started at around 7:20 pm

There appeared to be some confusion over the proposed Amendments raised at this Stage. However, here is a complete list of the amendments:

BillNo5Amendments

Selected amendments:

They are amendment 13, amendment 20, amendment 21, Government amendment 22, amendment 1, clause 1 stand part, amendment 14, amendment 6, clause 2 stand part, new clause 4, new clause 5, new clause 7 and Government new clause 13.

Votes on amendments to the Bill started at 9:54 pm after 2 hours 34 minutes of debate.

To cut a long story short, it is difficult for me to determine exactly what was being voted on, so skipping to the end after more than an hour voting on amendments to the Bill …

Voting took place at 11:09 pm with the result

Ayes: 313 Noes: 312

14 “Remain” Tory rebels voted in favour of passing the Third reading.

Bebb, Guto
Brine, Steve
Burt, rh Alistair
Clarke, rh Mr Kenneth
Djanogly, Mr Jonathan
Greening, rh Justine
Grieve, rh Mr Dominic
Gyimah, Mr Sam
Harrington, Richard
Lee, Dr Phillip
Letwin, rh Sir Oliver
Sandbach, Antoinette
Spelman, rh Dame Caroline
Vaizey, rh Mr Edward

The Bill, as amended, passed the Third Reading by a majority of 1.

The Bill has been sent to the House of Lords.

Here is a copy of the Bill as passed to the House of Lords

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/lbill/2017-2019/0172/18172.pdf

European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill (copy pdf)

Details of all stages of the Bill can be found at

https://services.parliament.uk/Bills/2017-19/europeanunionwithdrawalno5.html

The Bill was considered by the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution and their report is available at

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201719/ldselect/ldconst/339/33903.htm

The document presents the following conclusions for consideration by members of the House of Lords during their deliberations.

6.The House may wish to consider the implications of the Bill in the following respects:

A motion passed under the terms of the Bill would place a duty on the Prime Minister to “seek an extension” to the Article 50 period, while leaving discretion as to how it should be sought. Such discretion is inevitable as there is a limit to the extent to which it is feasible for legislation to provide direction in matters of this nature.

The Bill requires the Prime Minister to move a motion on the day after it receives Royal Assent. It does not, however, specify the time during which the Prime Minister would be required to act on the motion, should it be passed by the House of Commons.

In the event that a counterproposal is made by the European Council, the Bill does not require the Prime Minister to move a motion containing the date of that counterproposal. If the Prime Minister did move a motion containing that date, it would be open to the House of Commons to amend the motion so that it specified a different date. The provisions of the Bill could be applied repeatedly in the event that departure dates agreed by the House of Commons in subsequent motions did not align with the date or dates offered by the European Council.

The Bill does not provide for how any counterproposal from the European Council should be treated in the event that conditions are attached to it.

If the European Council refuses to offer an extension, or there is otherwise a failure to reach agreement on an extension, the Bill has no further effect and the UK would leave the European Union on 12 April by default.

As the result of a Government amendment in the House of Commons, the process by which a statutory instrument to alter ‘exit day’ in the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 is changed from the affirmative to the negative procedure. The justification for this change, accepted by the Bill’s sponsor and the Official Opposition, was that it might be necessary to legislate as a matter of urgency to change the date of exit and that the requirement to get the approval of both Houses to an affirmative instrument could cause undesirable delay, risking a situation in which exit day in domestic law was not aligned with the exit day agreed under EU law.

A House of Lords Library Briefing covers the House of Commons stages of the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 5) Bill, prepared for Members of the House of Lords in the event that the bill is considered in the House of Lords on 4 April 2019.

https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/LLN-2019-0042

Parliament’s Recess in February Cancelled

by Politicker 0 Comments

Andrea Leadsom today announced that parliament’s week-long recess in February has been cancelled.

The House of Commons was expected to finish at the end of business on February 14 before returning on February 25. Speaking in the House of Commons on 31 January 2019, Ms Leadsom said

The House will know that recess dates are always announced subject to the progress of business. In this unique session of Parliament and in light of the significant decisions taken by the House this week, it is only right that I give the House notice that there are currently no plans to bring forward a motion to agree dates for the February recess and that the House may therefore need to continue to sit to make progress on the key business before the House.

Dominic Raab Statement to MPs on 24 July 2018

Dominic Raab gave a statement to Parliament on the publication of the White Paper on Legislating for the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU.

With permission Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on the White Paper which has been published today, setting out the Government’s plans for legislating for the Withdrawal Agreement and the implementation period.

On Friday the 29th of March 2019, the UK will leave the European Union, giving effect to the historic decision taken by the British people in the 2016 referendum.

This Government is committed to delivering a smooth and orderly Brexit. That’s why we’ve already passed the EU (Withdrawal) Act through Parliament, so we are ensuring our statute book functions after exit, whatever the outcome of the negotiations. I am grateful to the House, and the other place, for the many hours of scrutiny devoted to that vital piece of legislation.

We are now embarking on the next step in the process of delivering that smooth Brexit for the people and businesses of this country. Mr Speaker, since June last year, the UK has been negotiating with the EU to decide on the terms of our withdrawal.

We have made substantial progress: protecting the rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU, deciding on the terms of the financial settlement, agreeing a strictly time-limited implementation period. Most of the Withdrawal Agreement, according to the EU side, around 80%, has now been agreed with our EU partners, and we have isolated outstanding issues for further focused negotiation. I will be meeting Michel Barnier again on Thursday, to take forward these negotiations at this critical time.

We have already agreed a financial settlement, estimated at between £35-39 billion, well below the figures being bandied around by some when we started this negotiation.

The implementation period is finite, it allows for the negotiation and conclusion of free trade deals.

Many of these arrangements will require new domestic legislation to deliver them into UK law.

And that is why, last November, we announced our intention to bring forward a new piece of primary legislation to implement the Withdrawal Agreement in UK law. So today, we are publishing a White Paper setting out our proposals for this important legislation, which will be introduced once the negotiations have concluded and Parliament has approved the final deal.

Legislating for the Withdrawal Agreement

The White Paper on Legislating for the Withdrawal Agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union sets out how the Government will implement the final Withdrawal Agreement we reach with the EU in UK law.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/legislating-for-the-withdrawal-agreement-between-the-united-kingdom-and-the-european-union

The White Paper confirms that the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill will:

  • be the primary means by which the rights of EU citizens will be protected in UK law
  • legislate for the time-limited implementation period
  • create a financial authority to manage the specific payments to be made under the financial settlement, with appropriate Parliamentary oversight

Legislating for the Withdrawal Agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union (PDF)

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