As the EU withdrawal bill reaches the House of Lords, peers have labelled the bill as fundamentally flawed and pushed for changes to be made. Despite already passing a vote in the House of Commons, the Lords constitution committee stated that the Brexit bill risks “undermining legal certainty” and requires substantial change.
On Tuesday and Wednesday the bill will experience fierce debate with those who supported remaining in the EU, expected to vote for a motion of regret over the public not getting another say in the matter. The aim of the bill is to make EU legislation into domestic law before Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.
“We conclude that the bill risks fundamentally undermining legal certainty in a number of ways,” the committee said. The peers said that the proposed method to create the new category for retained EU law would result in “problematic uncertainties and ambiguities”.
They also criticised the “overly broad” and “unacceptably wide” Henry VIII powers. This is when ministers are given the ability to amend regulations without being subject to full parliamentary scrutiny.
The peers also warned that if Scottish and Welsh administrations didn’t agree on the devolution of powers returned from Brussels then there would be “significant constitutional repercussions”.
The @ScotSecState finally admits that Scottish MPs will miss out on an important phase of the EU Withdrawal Bill because of his failure. Scotland shouldn't be silenced because a UK minister was ill-prepared. #BrexitShambles #Brexit #PowerGrab pic.twitter.com/aGcQBLkktK
— Dr Philippa Whitford (@Dr_PhilippaW) January 24, 2018
The committee chair Lady Taylor of Bolton said “we acknowledge the scale, challenge and unprecedented nature of the task of converting existing EU law into UK law, but as it stands, this bill is constitutionally unacceptable”. In the coming weeks the committee must decide how far they wish to go when amendments are debated in the coming weeks.
Labour plans to support approximately 20 changes meaning that with cross bench and Lib Dem support, there is a real chance of defeat. The list of changes that are aimed to be made are:
- Parliamentary role in the event of a no deal
- UK parliament vote on the final deal
- enhanced protection for EU-derived rights
- Further limits on Henry VIII powers
- Removing the government fixed Brexit day