European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

(Limited Text - Ministerial Extracts only)

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Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard continued) & Committee stage & Committee: 3rd sitting (Hansard continued): House of Lords
Thursday 16th January 2020

(4 years, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
Read Hansard Text Amendment Paper: HL Bill 16-III Third marshalled list for Committee - (15 Jan 2020)
Lord McNicol of West Kilbride Portrait Lord McNicol of West Kilbride (Lab)
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My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Storey, for tabling Amendment 38 and affording me the opportunity to probe the Government’s intentions with regard to excellent Erasmus+ scheme.

As we have heard, the current Erasmus+ scheme has benefited thousands of our young people and given tens of thousands of EU young people the opportunity to spend time in the United Kingdom. Despite previous statements that the UK will consider options for continued participation, the Government may be tempted to make a clean break. That would be a mistake. If we were to leave Erasmus+, current participants would be able to wind up their placements but other young people would be denied the opportunity to study, to work and to volunteer, which has become so commonplace. We on these Benches very much hope that this will not be the case. It would be a huge mistake to walk away from a scheme that has led not just to better employment outcomes but to an increase in the participants’ confidence, independent thinking and cultural awareness.

The Prime Minister has indicated that the UK will seek to continue participating in Erasmus+. As the noble Lord, Lord Storey, and others who have participated in this debate have said, we support the Prime Minister in that position. I hope the Minister can confirm that this is definitely the Government’s intention, as well as outlining what discussions—if any—have already taken place with the EU 27.

If I may abuse my position for just a second, could the Minister also confirm whether any progress has been made on our continued participation in the Horizon research programme, which is similar in many respects?

Lord Agnew of Oulton Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education (Lord Agnew of Oulton) (Con)
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My Lords, I am pleased to respond to this amendment moved by the noble Lord, Lord Storey, and I will try to respond the comments made by the noble Earl, Lord Clancarty, the noble Lords, Lord Wigley and Lord McNicol, the noble Duke, the Duke of Somerset, and the noble Baronesses, Lady Coussins and Lady Blower.

I appreciate that in recent days there has been a great deal of interest in, and confusion about, the UK’s participation in the next Erasmus+ programme. International exchanges are strongly valued by students and staff across the education sector. That is why we published our international education strategy in March 2019, setting out our ambition to increase the value of education exports to £35 billion a year, and to increase the total number of international students hosted by UK universities to 600,000 by 2030. The numbers of international students and EU applications are at record levels. The total number of international students, EU and non-EU combined, studying in the UK increased from 442,000 in 2016-17 to 458,000, and the most recent figure is 486,000 for 2018-19.

The most recent mobility analysis shows that Erasmus accounted for less than half of all mobility activities. I agree with the noble Baroness, Lady Coussins, and the noble Lord, Lord McNicol: there is evidence that students who have spent time abroad as part of their degree are more likely to achieve better degree outcomes, improved employment prospects, enhanced language skills and improvements in their confidence and well-being. I must gently point out to the noble Baroness, Lady Blower, however, that it was a Labour Government who removed the requirement that modern foreign languages be a compulsory subject. As soon as that happened, participation collapsed and we have fought hard over the last nine years to increase it.

I would like to clarify the Government’s position and explain why the proposed new clause is unnecessary. As several noble Lords have said, the Prime Minister made it clear at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday that we will continue to participate in the existing programme. Our future participation will be subject to our negotiations on the future UK-EU relationship, but we have in our elected Prime Minister, almost uniquely, a person steeped in European culture. He was educated in Brussels for part of his childhood, at the European School, and is bilingual in French. This is not a person who is going to turn his back on European education and its institutions.

We believe that the UK and European countries should continue to give young people and students opportunities to benefit from each other’s best universities. Our exit from the EU does not change this. As several noble Lords have said, we are not leaving Europe. The withdrawal agreement ensures that UK organisations, students, young people and learners will be able to continue to participate fully in the remainder of the current programme.

On the question of future participation in the next Erasmus programme, which runs from 2021 to 2027, we have been clear that we are open to continued co-operation on education and training with the European Union. We remain open to participation in the programme, but the amendment is not necessary. The next generation of EU programmes, including the proposed regulation for Erasmus 2021-2027, is still being discussed in the EU and has yet to be finalised. How can we comment on something that does not yet exist? The existing scheme is nearly seven years old and as the noble Baronesses, Lady Blower and Lady Coussins, said, the new programme will be different. It will be bigger and, until we see the substance of those proposals, we simply cannot be sure what the next stage of the Erasmus programme will look like. On this basis, it is not realistic for the Government to commit ahead to participation in a programme yet to be defined.

As set out in the political declaration, we have said that if it is in the UK’s interests we will seek to participate in some specific EU programmes as a third country. This includes Erasmus+ but this will of course be a matter for upcoming negotiations arising from our future relationship with the EU. We are considering a range of options with regard to the future of international exchange and collaboration on education training, including potential domestic alternatives. This is a significant moment in our history. In two weeks’ time, we will begin to pivot to become a more outward-facing country. We do not need just an EU university scheme but a much wider one.

I hope that we will have a global programme, encompassing all continents. We have many small schemes. Time is too short here to list them all but I will ask officials to attach an addendum to Hansard. I shall mention one: the Chevening scholarships scheme, which offers some 1,600 postgraduate scholarships and fellowships for potential future leaders. Last year, we doubled the number of scholars coming from Argentina. To celebrate this, I held a dinner for them in Lancaster House and was joined by the Argentinian ambassador—and before noble Lords worry about a taxpayer-funded junket, I can reassure them that I paid for this myself. I did this because I want Britain to have a wider window on the world.

This Government will look carefully at all available opportunities to fund international co-operation on education matters, including with the EU. I hope this explanation demonstrates why the proposed amendment is not necessary and I ask that the noble Lord, Lord Storey, withdraws it.

Baroness Coussins Portrait Baroness Coussins
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The Minister put a lot of emphasis on the Government’s wish to see the offer to students be much broader than just European and to encourage students to go worldwide as well. Does he not acknowledge that the whole point of Erasmus+, as opposed to the original form of Erasmus—without the plus—now means that the programme includes the opportunity for UK students to take up their placements in their year off in countries that are outside the EU, as well as inside it? This is precisely because it is acknowledged that some students may well benefit from a placement in China, Brazil, Turkey or wherever. That is exactly what has been happening with Erasmus+.

Lord Agnew of Oulton Portrait Lord Agnew of Oulton
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I entirely accept what the noble Baroness says but the key principle here is that we cannot offer a blank cheque in the withdrawal Bill to say that we will automatically join a new programme where the details have still not been agreed. However, none of the mood music coming out, including what the Prime Minister said only 24 hours ago, suggests that we are going to turn our backs on the educational institutions of Europe. We want to be part of it. We are in a rapidly globalising world but the point that I want to make to everyone is that we cannot continue to slavishly focus on the EU. This is why we had the referendum and why, at the 2017 election, the manifestos of 85% of MPs supported leaving. We then had three years of chaos in Parliament and now we finally have a decent mandate to do it. That does not mean that we flounce out of Europe, or that we leave the culture and institutions of Europe. I am sure that we will work proactively to maintain close links.

Baroness Blackstone Portrait Baroness Blackstone (Ind Lab)
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Does the Minister accept that the Chevening scholarship scheme has absolutely nothing to do with Erasmus? As a former Minister responsible for all post-school education, I am familiar with these schemes. The Chevening scheme is for master’s degree-level programmes and for students coming to the UK; it is not for British students going out to other countries, whether in Europe or elsewhere. Why the Minister’s officials have put this in his speech, and why he does not realise that it has absolutely nothing to do with Erasmus, I simply cannot imagine.

Lord Agnew of Oulton Portrait Lord Agnew of Oulton
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I can answer that. The point is that nearly every Peer who joined the debate on this amendment was mourning the leaving of Europe. Many of them just said, “We are very sad to be leaving the EU”, but we have got to get beyond that. In two weeks’ time, we are going to be an outward-facing country looking to the rest of the world. The reason that I mentioned Chevening—I put it into the speech, not officials—is because I had direct experience of it recently. I was sent to the OECD conference on education in Argentina about 18 months’ ago. I met the Education Minister, and it is those sorts of contacts which will help the future of this country. I accept that Chevening is a master’s degree programme and that it is for high-potential future leaders, but it is about the connection between institutions in our country and other countries.

Earl of Clancarty Portrait The Earl of Clancarty
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The point I made in my speech was that Erasmus does not preclude these arrangements. My nephew was at Swansea University, which had an exchange with Arizona that had nothing to do with Erasmus. Losing Erasmus means that students would lose choices overall; that is the point.

Lord Agnew of Oulton Portrait Lord Agnew of Oulton
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The reassurance that I can give the noble Earl is that we support the value of Erasmus. We are not signalling that we are going to come out of the next version of it, but we cannot offer a blank cheque on a scheme that has yet to be agreed. It will be part of the far wider withdrawal agreements that we foster with the EU over the next 12 months.

Lord Storey Portrait Lord Storey
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I am grateful for the Minister’s comments. I am sure that he will want to reflect on the comments made by Members in this debate, particularly on the importance of Erasmus to languages and inclusion. I am pleased that he has told us that we are committed to staying in the current Erasmus scheme, as that is important. I would also point out that regarding our ability to engage with—in the phrase the Minister uses—the wider world, these things are not mutually exclusive. There is already a whole host of schemes where young people can go to non-European countries to study; those exist currently. I hope that we can build on those as a nation over future years as well.

The key issue is that while, to some extent, the Minister is right that we do not yet quite know what the new Erasmus programme will look like, if we can give a commitment to be part of it we can be part of forming that new programme, which will, I hope, do some of the things that he has been espousing. I will reflect on what he said and I hope that he will consider what Members have said. For the moment, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Portrait Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town (Lab)
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My Lords, the EEA relationship has been, and, indeed still is, one that suits its member states exceedingly well. It enables certain non-EU member states to take full advantage of their geographical proximity and their historical trading and cultural relations with the EU to the benefits of both sides of the various borders. It is a model, as we have heard, that our negotiators would do well to follow, not necessarily on the exact detail, which is, after all, tailor-made for the various parties, but in its aim: to retain the alignments that foster trade, and to build on our different natural resources, strengths, patterns of exchange, labour needs, service expertise and investment potential. The negotiations should build on those strengths, just as the EEA has managed to achieve. That, we think, would be to the benefit of the EU as well as ourselves.

Lord Callanan Portrait The Minister of State, Department for Exiting the European Union (Lord Callanan) (Con)
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My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who took part in the debate, but we have been very clear in the political declaration, and indeed in our election manifesto, on our vision for the UK’s future relationship with the EU, which is based on an ambitious free trade agreement.

As I always do, I enjoyed the contribution of the noble Baroness, Lady Quin. We share an interest in the north-east of England. She is an experienced former Minister, doing some aspects of the job that I do now, and I always listen very carefully to what she has to say because she speaks a great deal of sense. She asked about the impact on the north-east of England, something I am of course very interested in. The answer will depend on the future trading arrangements that we negotiate, so I say: come back and ask me again at the end of this year. We have been very clear that we want an ambitious free trade agreement. We want trade to be as free as possible and we will be negotiating hard to bring that happy state of affairs about.

The election has clearly shown, in my view, that the public support the vision that we put forward. It was extensively debated in the election campaign and we won our majority on that basis. To answer the question of the noble Lord, Lord Lea, directly, I say that it is only by leaving the single market that the UK will be able to obtain an ambitious free trade agreement and to strike new trade deals with new and existing global partners. Attempts to remain in the EEA agreement beyond exit is by no means a simple as many noble Lords would have us believe. The EEA is an arrangement that exists at the moment between the EU and a number of EFTA countries—

Lord Lea of Crondall Portrait Lord Lea of Crondall
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I emphasise for the third time that this amendment is not about rejoining or staying in: it is, as my noble friend Lady Quin said, about alignment. Indeed, it is, if I may use the phrase, shadowing some of the rules that we have at the moment. Will the Minister comment on the fact that he has said many times that we are beginning from alignment? Why leave alignment, as a theological requirement?

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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I do not think that I said that. However, the noble Lord is right—although I did not say it on this occasion—that of course we are starting from a position of alignment. I do not have his amendment in front of me, but I think it refers to the EEA: it is the purpose of the amendment he has tabled, which is why I was exploring the issue.

The point I was going to go on to make is that the EEA is an agreement between the European Union member states and a number of EFTA states, and it is not open to the UK just to be able to join that agreement. We will leave it when we leave the EU part of that agreement, but the EU would almost certainly want to renegotiate it, because it was never designed for a country the size of the UK. That is if we did want to join it, but as I will shortly set out, I do not think it is desirable that we should. It is not a simple case, even if we wanted to, of happily trotting off and joining the EEA agreement: there are a number of other countries which are in at the moment that would no doubt have some observations on that.

My point is that attempts to remain in the EEA agreement beyond exit would not deliver control of our borders or our laws—two of the main three pillars of our argument for why we need to leave the EU. On borders, it would mean having to continue to accept all four freedoms of the single market—I take the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Lea, that we could perhaps pick and choose which ones we wanted to abide by or align with, but I suspect that the EU might have something to say about that. However, we would of course have to accept free movement of people. On laws, it would mean that we would have to implement all new EU legislation—as the noble Baroness, Lady Quin, said, we would be rule-takers. The noble Baroness was not in her place last night, but I quoted Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, who said how dangerous it would be, as we seek to manage one of the largest and most complex financial markets in the world, to turn ourselves into rule-takers, whereby the rules were set by another jurisdiction. Despite Mark Carney’s views on EU exit, which are well known, he made it clear that he thinks that it would be an unacceptable state of affairs for us to proceed with. It would mean that the UK would have to implement all new EU legislation for the whole of the economy, including services, digital and financial services.

We do not believe that that would deliver on the British people’s desire as expressed in the referendum to have more direct control over decisions that affect their daily lives. Rules would be set in the EU that we would then have to abide by. The public want the Government to get on with negotiating this future relationship, which was set out in the political declaration, without any further unnecessary hurdles, and that is what the Government will do.

Baroness Quin Portrait Baroness Quin
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I am listening carefully to what the Minister says, but he is responding to something that the amendment does not say. It does not say “rejoin” or “join” EFTA or the EEA but simply that we should have a look at what is happening in that process and look at areas where we would want to align with it.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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The amendment refers to the EEA, and the noble Lord, Lord Lea, indicated earlier that he would be in favour of joining it, so I was making the arguments against that. However, we have also explored the arguments on alignment at different times in the past, and it may well be as a result of the negotiations that there are some areas of EU legislation that we may wish to align with or put in place an equivalence procedure. That is all for the future negotiations.

As we have said on many other amendments, we do not believe that it is a sensible tactic to set out our negotiating objectives in statute, or that setting a negotiating objective along the lines of that advocated in the amendment would be what the public voted for in the general election or in the original EU referendum. Our manifesto at the election was explicit about the Government’s intention and determination to keep the UK out of the single market. On that basis, although I suspect that I have probably not satisfied the noble Lord, I hope that he will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Lea of Crondall Portrait Lord Lea of Crondall
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I thank the Minister for that reply, although I think that whoever wrote his speech had not read the terms of the amendment. Over the course of the next four years, even if the Government do not want to set out a blueprint—

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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I have a copy of the amendment and it says:

“aligns as closely as possible with EEA member status”.

Lord Lea of Crondall Portrait Lord Lea of Crondall
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To align is something that we can do unilaterally or with agreement, but the amendment does not say “join”. I am sorry—I am not trying to be pedantic; we both know where we are, but that is what the amendment says.

To conclude, I hope that the Minister and the Government will generally reflect on the fact that, if they want to get Brexit real rather than just saying “Get Brexit done” as a slogan, they will have to see how a framework can be approached which will have certain common principles that will then be understood by the President of the European Commission. At the moment, she is baffled about whether the Government know what they are doing when they say that we can get all these things done one by one—scores of them all done and dusted by the end of this year. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe (Con)
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My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, for introducing his amendment which, as he made clear, relates to the future economic relationship between the UK and the EU. Our agreement with the EU in the political declaration was expressed in the following words:

“to develop an ambitious, wide-ranging and balanced economic partnership. This partnership will be comprehensive, encompassing a Free Trade Agreement, as well as wider sectoral cooperation where it is in the mutual interest of both Parties.”

We look forward to working with our partners in the EU to negotiate this free trade agreement in the year to come. But on that, there is a basic point to be made. It would be neither possible nor appropriate to publish a detailed analysis of the specifics of an agreement that is yet to be negotiated. Indeed, publishing such a detailed report, as the noble Lord’s amendment would require, would completely undermine the UK’s negotiating position heading into the next stage.

There is a way to address the noble Lord’s concern that does not land us in that kind of trap. In November 2018, the Government published a detailed analysis that covered a broad range of possible EU exit scenarios. This report ran to over 80 pages and was designed to provide an understanding of how changes to our relationship with the EU might affect the United Kingdom’s economy in the long run. This is available for all to see.

In exactly the same vein, let me reassure the noble Lord that the Government remain committed to informing Parliament with the best analysis to support parliamentary scrutiny. We will do so at an appropriate time that does not impede our ability to strike the best deal for the UK. As I emphasised in our debates yesterday, we have also been clear that we will engage with the devolved Administrations and draw on their knowledge and expertise to secure an agreement that works for the whole of the UK.

I hope therefore that the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, will feel able to withdraw his amendment. I can assure him that the Government will continue to update the House with analysis at appropriate points.

Lord Wigley Portrait Lord Wigley
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Could the noble Earl clarify why, if it was possible to publish in 2018 the figures to which he has referred, it is not possible to do so now?

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Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe
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My Lords, the intention behind those scenarios was to cover a broad spectrum of circumstances which we could find ourselves in. They were not designed to posit our desired end-point; they were designed as a guide to the citizen to illustrate what could happen, given certain variables. I do not think that it is possible or advisable for us to go beyond that at this stage.

Lord Wigley Portrait Lord Wigley
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I am sorry to labour the point, but could he therefore say whether the figures of 2018 are still valid?

Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe
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They are still valid as hypothetical figures and as illustrative of certain scenarios if certain arrangements were agreed. I think that Ministers would stand by the figures in so far as they are designed to illustrate those scenarios.

Lord Wigley Portrait Lord Wigley
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My Lords, I do not think I will succeed in taking this matter very much further this afternoon, but the House will have seen the position that we are in: some figures were available in 2018 that may or may not be relevant now, and we do not know the direction we are going in to know whether they are relevant. It seems a very strange way of entering negotiations—I only hope that the outcome will be better than the prophecy on that basis. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Baroness Vere of Norbiton Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport (Baroness Vere of Norbiton) (Con)
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My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, and members of his committee, including the noble Baronesses, Lady Randerson and Lady Noakes, for their very thorough report in May 2019, Brexit: Road, Rail and Maritime Transport. I also thank the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, for his contribution today. While I appreciate the intended effect of the amendment proposed by the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, it is at best unnecessary and at worst unwise, as I hope to explain.

The first part of the noble Lord’s amendment relates to transport during the implementation period. It is worth reiterating that, once the withdrawal agreement is ratified by the EU and the United Kingdom, EU law will continue to apply in the UK during the implementation period, and the Government will make regulations as appropriate. This will guarantee that the transport of freight and passengers will continue to operate smoothly, just as it does now. So in the implantation period, nothing changes. I hope this reassures the noble Lord that this part of the amendment is therefore unnecessary.

Regarding arrangements for the moving of freight and passengers by road, rail, air and sea between the UK and the EU after 2020, these considerations will form a very important part of the negotiations with the EU and should be allowed to proceed without undue impediment. While it is beyond the scope of today’s debate to go into great detail, I will take this opportunity to reassure noble Lords that the Government are fully prepared across all four modes: roads, aviation, rail and maritime. The landscape is complex, but the challenges are not insurmountable, and the work done in your Lordships’ House and beyond has been critical in crystallising our understanding.

On roads and road haulage, while international haulage accounts for only a small proportion of haulage activity in the UK, it is essential for our imports and exports. The political declaration therefore identifies road transport as an area for negotiation. We hope to agree arrangements that will allow the haulage industry to continue to act as the vital enabler of wider economic activity, while respecting our right to decide for ourselves how we regulate this sector in the future. We are developing a programme of discussions with the haulage sector on the future relationship, and this will include regular industry round-table meetings.

The noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, mentioned permits and the time taken already by your Lordships’ House on a permitting system. This has helped our understanding of the challenges that the haulage industry will face. The Government are aware that the ECMT permitting system can be limited, and therefore if we do not have an agreement, we will look at bilateral arrangements with individual countries. Many of those historic bilateral road agreements can be restarted, and we have them with all EU member states, excluding Malta for reasons of geography. These would be the foundation for maintaining connectivity. However, our immediate focus is on getting an arrangement, particularly for road haulage. There is huge interest on both sides to make sure the arrangements work and that we are able to serve the supply chains across all nations.

Private motorists are also mentioned in the political declaration. Noble Lords will recall that by ratifying the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic we have already ensured that UK driving licences should be recognised in EU member states which also ratified the convention. Ireland, Spain, Cyprus and Malta have not ratified this convention, but we have ensured that UK driving licences should be recognised in those countries through their ratification of the 1949 convention. We are prepared to consider complementary arrangements where those would make sense.

Another example is on type approval for vehicles. The Government are working on implementing a UK type approval system to regulate which vehicles may be sold on the UK market, so that we remain confident that vehicles registered in the UK are safe, secure and clean. The UK is a respected member of the UNECE World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations. We expect to maintain our high level of influence over the development of international vehicle technical standards.

On aviation, the political declaration foresees a comprehensive air transport agreement that will provide market access for UK and EU airlines, and provisions to facilitate co-operation on aviation safety and security, and air traffic management. The UK has long-standing expertise in negotiating aviation agreements and is fully prepared to reach a beneficial deal.

The noble Baroness, Lady Randerson, mentioned the safety agencies. Within the field of aviation that is the EASA, a significant player with whom the UK works closely. It is paramount that the safety and security of all passengers travelling in the UK and EU is not compromised under any circumstances. We want our consumers and EU consumers to continue to experience the best safety practices, when flying both to and from the UK. The Government understand the industry position on the UK’s continued participation in EASA and we will continue to work closely with industry throughout the negotiations.

On rail, arrangements are already in place for services through the Channel Tunnel and on the island of Ireland to ensure that these cross-border services continue in all circumstances. These arrangements will be supplemented by bilateral arrangements with France to support the continuation of these mutually beneficial services over the longer term, and we will continue to support the Northern Ireland Civil Service in future discussions with Ireland. The Government want to secure a close relationship with the EU transport safety agencies, including those for rail, as part of our future relationship.

Finally, maritime is a global sector and largely liberalised in practice. The UK’s departure from the EU will not create obstacles for UK ships in accessing EU ports. However, free trade arrangements can provide the legal certainty to underpin the market access that exists in practice.

The amendment of the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, also proposes a reporting requirement, a debate in both Houses and a vote thereon. On reporting, there is no need to set out—indeed, there may be a significant detriment in setting out—bespoke statutory reporting requirements on a specified date. I hope noble Lords agree that imposing a statutory duty on a Minister to provide public commentary at a fixed point in time on the likely outcome of confidential negotiations risks seriously disadvantaging negotiators acting for the UK. However, I highlight the comments on scrutiny made by my noble friend Lord Callanan in your Lordships’ House yesterday. It will remain the case that both Houses will have all the usual and long-standing arrangements for scrutinising the actions of the Government.

Let me summarise the Government’s response to the two key elements of this amendment. First, the smooth running of transport during the implementation period is already guaranteed. Secondly, the proposed report being published during the course of the negotiations is unlikely to be helpful and may significantly undermine the UK’s negotiating position. Given these considerations, I hope that the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Lord Whitty Portrait Lord Whitty
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I thank the Minister for that very full reply, and I thank colleagues, particularly committee members, who contributed to this debate. I accept some of what the Minister said, in the sense that, theoretically, during the implementation period nothing is supposed to change—but some of the mechanisms for ensuring that things do not change have disappeared. That is probably an issue for my next amendment because, if we are not involved in discussions in the various agencies and issues arise, there will be a problem in the implementation period.

I agree that the real problem is from the new date of 31 December—or, in deference to my noble friend on the Front Bench, 22 December or thereabouts. The whole point of me asking for a report in July is to ensure that, in good time for the December date, all the various sectors, plus individual motorists, brokers and insurance companies and so forth, understand the position. It may be over-glossing it to require a vote of both Houses, but I think the industry and the nation require a comprehensive report, in some form, to the House and the country, to explain what will happen in all these modes of transport beyond December.

I will not press this amendment or the July date. This was always a probing amendment, and I have got a number of commitments from the Government, for which I am grateful. I am sure the Government are well aware of all these issues. I am not sure I entirely agree with my former colleague on the committee, the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, about the degree of preparedness of Ministers before us; that was probably true of the last Minister we saw, but it may not have been true of earlier Ministers. I shall draw a curtain over that.

I accept the Government’s good intention in this respect, but, in the coming months, they will be under pressure from these various sectors to have greater clarification. It would be quite a good idea if we debated that again in the House, in whatever form the Government think is appropriate. Otherwise, we could still be in a situation where there is chaos in at least one of these sectors on 1 January next year. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Lord Tunnicliffe Portrait Lord Tunnicliffe (Lab)
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My Lords, this is not the first time we have debated the options for future UK participation in EU agencies and I doubt it will be the last. However, it remains a vital issue, and one where the Government and the Opposition remain at odds.

We have always been clear that, while it would require ongoing payments to the EU, it is in the national interest for the UK to continue working within or alongside EU agencies. These are the bodies that were established with the UK’s blessing, and indeed often at its insistence, to share best practice and promote efficiency by avoiding unnecessary duplication. Participation often comes with access to shared databases or alert systems. These are particularly important for food safety, product recalls and so on.

Under Mrs May, the Government shifted from point-blank refusal to even debate the issue to half-hearted commitments to exploring their options. Later they edged towards continued participation in some agencies if the price and terms were right. All the while we edge towards our exit without any kind of clarity. Your Lordships’ House and its committees have previously explored the options and precedents at some length. I hope the Government will have undertaken their own assessments. The Minister will know that it is not only possible for the UK to continue as part of many agencies but that that would be actively welcomed by our friends and colleagues across the EU 27.

As with the last group of amendments, I know the Minister will fall back on the fact that these are matters for the next phase of the negotiations. I also know that the Government will resist this amendment, as they have done with every other amendment that we have debated in recent days. I strongly disagree with that approach but it is the Minister’s prerogative. However, the suggestion from my noble friend Lord Whitty is a sensible one. All he seeks is an assurance that Parliament will be provided with information on the Government’s plans for future participation in each EU agency and will have the chance to debate those decisions. I have no doubt that your Lordships’ House’s committees will continue to carry out inquiries in these specific subject areas, and those reports will continue to be useful and give us the chance to talk about specifics, but I would like a commitment from the Government that they will be proactive in their approach, providing a speedy response and ensuring that sufficient time is allocated for discussion.

In my career I have been a much-regulated person, and the value of effective regulation when it comes to safety, trading, smoothness and so on is overwhelming. Every now and then we get a sad reminder of that when it breaks down, and unfortunately we have had this recently in the aviation industry. To take on the sheer complexity of certificating aeroplanes, for instance—in this case the Boeing 737 Max—you need an enormous level of competence and real political clout. The FAA failed to supervise Boeing successfully despite being a body in a big country which had all the resources to do it. The European aviation safety organisation did have that size. We have to recognise that to discharge these responsibilities without being part of a larger agency will be an enormous challenge, requiring enormous resources.

I really hope that the Government will take the general thrust of my noble friend Lord Whitty’s amendment and recognise just how valuable it is to retain membership of the European agencies in one form or another. The chances of generating our own capability to have the same impact on safety in particular, but also reliability, co-operation and so on, are, in my view, close to negligible.

Lord Duncan of Springbank Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Northern Ireland Office (Lord Duncan of Springbank) (Con)
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My Lords, this has been a short but worthwhile debate. I thank the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, for tabling amendments which have allowed us to discuss the matter. Amendment 62 lists the large number of agencies of which we are full members; I will not read them out either, but I recognise their value and worth over the years.

It is important to stress certain points at the outset. Of course, during the implementation period, we will remain full members of and have full participation in these bodies. We have also made declarations about which bodies we have a particular ambition to remain active in after that implementation period, covering things such as aviation safety, the chemicals agency and the medicines agency. We can all see the value in those. However, I must stress again that these elements will be subject to an ongoing negotiation. They cannot be secured by unilateral demand. There will be a discussion to take that matter forward.

It is important to stress that in each of these areas and with each of these agencies, it is not the Government’s intent to make any of the adjustments in secret. It will be necessary for all those regulated or affected by those agencies to understand how the Government-EU negotiations will impact the industries, sectors and the individuals themselves. The obligation to provide a report is all but superseded by the Government’s necessary commitment to do this, to ensure the safe continuation of each of the elements for which those agencies are responsible.

The Prime Minister himself has said that he will keep Parliament fully abreast of these developments, and rightly so. Even more importantly, the committees of this House and the other place will be in full scrutinising mode to ensure that the way these evolutions unfold is fit for purpose, works for those affected and ultimately delivers against the Government’s objectives of allowing growth in these areas. A number of noble Lords have hinted that some of these areas are more challenging to deal with and that is why we need to find ways of working through, to make sure that we are not dimming our ambitions or collaborations in any way. I hope that through those negotiations we will be able to move these matters forward in constructive ways.

The noble Baroness, Lady Miller, asked about the research challenges. I accept that the Joint Research Centre and some of the institutions to which we belong will need to be considered in a new light. I also recognise that we are a participant not just because of our membership but because of respect for the science for which we are responsible and the work we are able to bring. That is a testament to our universities and our wider academic sectors. We should not lose sight of the fact that we are not just active but valued participants in a number of these areas. That relationship must continue because, in many respects, the research that is being considered is more important than the politics which underpins some of today’s debate.

I cannot accept the amendment, but I accept why the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, tabled it. I accept that he has done so to try to secure from the Government an understanding and an appreciation of how we will go forward. The important thing is that we will be transparent. The negotiations will consider our relationship with each of these agencies and, as that consideration evolves, we shall ensure that both Houses of Parliament are fully abreast of what this will mean. We will do so in a manner that allows the necessary scrutiny that noble Lords would expect from the committees we have here today. The settled will of developing these ideas will be done in collaboration with the EU. Those negotiations are important but, on a number of issues, I am afraid we cannot give the commitments that even I would like to give just now because they rely upon that negotiated approach. On that basis, I ask the noble Lord, Lord Whitty, to withdraw his amendment, in the knowledge that his ambition is, I believe, also shared by the Government.

Lord Whitty Portrait Lord Whitty
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My Lords, I am very grateful for that full reply from the Minister on the intent of Government in these areas. I would, however, ask him to comment on one or possibly two areas.

First, the three agencies that he picked out were the ones that the previous Prime Minister picked out, in one of her major speeches in this saga, as being particularly important for continuing participation. Perhaps I should solidly approve the consistency of policy within the Government over the change in regime, but if that is still the priority, it is a rather limited number of these agencies.

Secondly, the noble Lord said that things will continue as normal during the implementation transition period. My understanding—as of a few months ago, anyway—was that, while the rules would remain the same, our participation in any of the executive bodies of these agencies has been denied by the European Union. If there is a change in that situation, I would strongly support it, but my understanding is that only a few weeks ago the EU’s view was that we would no longer participate, even though we were bound by the rules. Could the Minister comment on that?

Lord Duncan of Springbank Portrait Lord Duncan of Springbank
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Yes, of course. The noble Lord is correct. I did not mean to imply that there is no change whatever. I meant that what those agencies do, and our commitment to those agencies, continues unchanged during the implementation period, until such time as the negotiations reveal the structure or the future arrangement. I picked out the three particular agencies because there has been continuity on those between the two Administrations post the election or post change of regime, and those are clearly ones in which we would wish to see an active participation. We would prioritise these in developing a relationship with the EU, but not exclusively so—I would not wish it to be thought that, of the agencies that have been listed, only those three are for active consideration. Those are ones that, in light of our conversations and debates so far, probably stand at the top of the list. For each of the others, an accommodation and a relationship will be required. What it will be and how it will be determined will ultimately evolve through those negotiations. I hope this House and the other place will be kept fully informed of those.

Lord Whitty Portrait Lord Whitty
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My Lords, I thank the Minister very much for that clarification, and I beg leave to withdraw the Amendment.

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Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Portrait Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town
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My Lords, as we have been told, Clause 38 is essentially meaningless. It is declaratory, I think it was said; a sop to the ERG. Indeed, the Explanatory Memorandum makes clear that the clause makes no material difference to the scope of Parliament’s powers.

However, it is not just neutral. The problem, as we discussed on Tuesday, is that, by having this clause but failing to refer alongside it to the Sewel convention that the UK Parliament will not normally use its powers to legislate in devolved matters without the agreement of the National Assembly—or indeed the Scottish Parliament—it appears to our colleagues there to undermine the devolution settlements.

It is for that reason, as we discussed in relation to Amendment 45 on Tuesday that the Welsh Government wish the Sewel convention to be restated alongside what is in this clause, if it really must remain in the Bill, although it is in fact otiose and it would probably be best for it to go altogether. I see the Chief Whip in his place; he always likes to know what we will return to. That is one point to which we shall return next week.

For the Opposition, however, there is a different problem with the clause, which is that the rest of the Bill does the exact opposite to what it says in it. Virtually all the rest of the Bill dilutes parliamentary sovereignty vis-à-vis the Executive: it takes powers from us, not to give them to Wales or Scotland but to give them to the Government.

Future historians will puzzle over why this clause is here. We are particularly grateful to the noble Lords for giving notice of their intention to oppose that Clause 38 stand part, because it gives us the opportunity to write that into Hansard, so that when future historians—I am a historian—look at why on earth this clause was there, they can say it was there to keep the ERG of the Tory party happy. That does not seem to us to be a very good reason to have it, but if it really must remain, without the reference to the devolution settlements it is in fact unhelpful, rather than neutral.

Lord Keen of Elie Portrait The Advocate-General for Scotland (Lord Keen of Elie) (Con)
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My Lords, I am obliged to noble Lords for their contributions to this part of the debate. I express some concern that the noble Lord, Lord Wallace, wishes to concertina hard ideologues of the right, English nationalists and Brexiteers into one uniform group. That is regrettable shorthand and, indeed, the very fact that his party has adopted that sort of attitude towards the issue of our leaving the European Union might go some way to explaining why it returned after the general election with a total of 11 Members in the House of Commons. There are many, many people in the United Kingdom who are not English nationalists but voted to leave the European Union. There are many people in the United Kingdom who are not hard ideologues of the right who voted to leave the European Union.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire Portrait Lord Wallace of Saltaire
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My Lords, I entirely accept that. I am merely talking about those who have written about this. I am talking, as my noble colleague on the Labour Front Bench suggested, about those who have been agitating for clauses such as this, who have been expounding—the Martin Howes of this world—and not, of course, the average voter, who has much a simpler collection of views on all this. We know that the vote came for many reasons, but for those who have written and spoken about the justification and the necessity for this, in overlapping groups, I think that the terms I used were justified. We are talking about a view of English exceptionalism, which perhaps even some Scots share—a view of English identity and our difference from the continent, which I do not share but which I was taught at university. I have learned a great deal about it and I dispute it.

Lord Keen of Elie Portrait Lord Keen of Elie
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My Lords, even though the noble Lord may seek to narrow down the characterisation he advanced in his opening, I still do not accept it. It appears to me to go far too far in its assertion of who might be concerned to restate and recognise the sovereignty of our Parliament, and why. I will make two comments on his observations. He did not mention the duality principle, but he ought to bear it in mind because, of course, while the Executive may enter into obligations at the level of international law, they have no impact on domestic law unless and until they are brought into domestic law by this Parliament. So there is no question of parliamentary sovereignty being undermined in any sense by the ability of the Executive to enter into treaties, and to have and enjoy that treaty-making power. That is simply not correct.

On the noble Lord’s observations about the separation of powers and the position of the judiciary, I invite him to revisit, as am sure he has often done before, the work of Dicey on the constitution—I think the 1887 edition was the last one that Dicey himself edited—in which he makes very clear the position of the judiciary vis-à-vis the sovereignty of Parliament.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire Portrait Lord Wallace of Saltaire
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I have indeed read Dicey and I am conscious that his views on a number of issues were influenced by his growing opposition to home rule.

Lord Keen of Elie Portrait Lord Keen of Elie
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It is well known that, latterly, Dicey developed views on home rule for Ireland that differed from what might be regarded as the mainstream at the time. Be that as it may, his works on the principles of the constitution stand the test of time and are worthy of being revisited by the noble Lord.

I shall deal shortly with the point advanced by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, about the scope of the present clause. The Sewel convention is not itself a matter of constitutional law; it is a political convention, as the Supreme Court made clear in the first Miller case. It is a political convention into which the courts would not intrude. Be that as it may, it has of course been restated in statutory form and therefore does not require repetition. Section 2 of the Scotland Act 2016 and Section 2 of the Wales Act 2017 restated it expressly in statutory form. So it is there on the statute book and does not invite repetition. What is not contained in any of the devolved legislation, for obvious reasons, is a restatement and recognition of the fundamental principle of our constitutional arrangement, namely that Parliament is sovereign, and there is therefore a desire to see that made clear.

The noble Lord, Lord Wallace, suggested that there was some deficiency in the drafting of the clause, but I resist that suggestion. It says, in terms, that the principle of our constitutional arrangement—namely, parliamentary sovereignty—is recognised. It is universally recognised, and that is an appropriate way to express the position of our constitution. In other words, nothing in the Bill derogates from the sovereignty of Parliament, and this clause makes that clear.

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Portrait Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town
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Does the noble and learned Lord therefore accept that if there was an addition to restate the convention, that would not detract in any way from what is in the clauses at the moment?

Lord Keen of Elie Portrait Lord Keen of Elie
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It would not detract from the clause but it would be an unnecessary repetition. We do not normally put precisely the same provision into statutes two or three years apart. Here we have the provision with regard to the Sewel convention in Section 2 of the Scotland Act 2016, and again in Section 2 of the Wales Act 2017. It is there. It is on the statute book; it exists. That is why there is no need for repetition.

As I say, leaving the European Union is a matter of some significance in the context of our constitutional arrangements, in particular, the repeal of the ECA. It is therefore appropriate in this context that there is an explicit recognition of the principle of parliamentary sovereignty. Therefore, as the Bill implements the withdrawal agreement so that we can leave the legal order that is the European Union, it is appropriate, when disentangling ourselves from those international obligations, that we ensure that there is no concern about the principle of parliamentary sovereignty. It is for Parliament, acting in its sovereign capacity, to give effect to the agreement in domestic law—that is the duality principle, and nothing in the Bill derogates from that principle as recognised by this clause. In these circumstances, I submit that it is entirely appropriate that this clause should stand part of the Bill, and I invite the noble Lord not to oppose it doing so.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire Portrait Lord Wallace of Saltaire
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My Lords, in that case, I find the phrase “unnecessary repetition” entirely appropriate to this clause as a description of what it is for. I referred to the duality principle; I remind the noble and learned Lord that the United States also has that principle, and that the view of the exceptional position of the American constitution and its relationship with international law means that, on occasion, the Senate turns down treaties that the United States has negotiated, sometimes to the extreme discomfort of the international legal order.

Lord Keen of Elie Portrait Lord Keen of Elie
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I think we are aware that it did not join the League of Nations.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire Portrait Lord Wallace of Saltaire
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Not just the League of Nations—there was also withdrawal from the joint agreement with Iran, although that was an executive act.

I was saying that our Parliament, which is sovereign, is constrained by acceptance of the legal order. On the delicate relationship between Parliament and government over the negotiation of treaties, particularly trade treaties, we need to bear that in mind, because, as a Parliament, we have never rejected a treaty that a Government have negotiated. That is one reason why many of us are still pressing for that. I wish merely to mark that these issues need to be examined in more detail, that the Government have committed themselves to some sort of commission on the constitution, the judiciary and democracy, and that as we leave the European Union, it is entirely appropriate—indeed, necessary—that we re-examine some of these questions about which, as the noble and learned Lord and I have shown in our discussions, there is some contestation.

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I hope the Minister will say, “Actually, we could look at this again.” We have not heard that phrase often in the last few days, but I plead with the Government. This is such a silly thing to do and flies in the face of all protestations of the importance of the role of Parliament in this regard.
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, and the noble Lord, Lord Tyler, for their opening statements on the amendments in this group. Of course, I well remember the many debates that we had during the passage of the 2018 Act on the extremely important subject of delegated powers. It is of great interest to us. I do not think the other place took as much interest in it, but it is nevertheless an important subject and I am grateful to both the noble Baroness and the noble Lord for raising it.

I will say at the start that the Government have read with care the reports of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee and, of course, the Constitution Committee, which were referred to. I am also grateful, as I said in my opening at Second Reading, for their contribution to the exit process to date.

I will speak first to the amendments of the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter. I note that they are co-signed by the noble Lord, Lord Blencathra, who is not in his place. He is a signatory to these amendments and an extremely distinguished chair of the committee. A number of Members here are, of course, veterans of the debate that we had during the passage of the EU withdrawal Act about the introduction of a sifting mechanism into the Act. I agree that the sifting mechanism introduced then was a contribution to the unique set of circumstances in which we found ourselves as a consequence of that Act. I will argue today that the circumstances in which we find ourselves now are very different from those of the 2018 Act.

The first point, of course, is that the volume of statutory instruments that we will make under this Bill will be significantly less than those made under the 2018 Act. I suspect that this comes as a significant relief to many noble Lords. Secondly, the powers themselves are much narrower and more specific in nature. The DPRRC report itself acknowledged that:

“The scope of each power is … naturally constrained by the scope of the … matter contained in the Agreements that it is intended to address.”


Even more importantly, we have set out the procedure to be used when exercising the powers in this Bill. Ministers do not have the discretion that was afforded to them in the 2018 Act regarding the procedure attached to the use of the powers in this Bill. The argument then was that we needed a sifting mechanism because of the wide discretion given to Ministers to select the appropriate procedure. We do not have that procedure in the way this is drafted. As Members have observed, the general approach that we have taken is that the affirmative procedure will apply when the powers in the Bill are exercised so as to modify primary legislation—the so-called Henry VIII power—or retained direct principal EU legislation; the affirmative procedure will always apply in those circumstances.

Where the negative procedure applies, Members of the House may scrutinise the regulations and may, of course, pray against them should they wish to do so, as is usual for regulations of this kind. The sifting mechanism that was inserted in the 2018 Act worked very well. It was a unique response to a unique Bill. There were always going to be a huge amount of SIs introduced. There was much less certainty at the time about how they would be used, and a considerable amount of ministerial discretion on the procedure to be used. I submit to the House that none of those conditions applies to this withdrawal agreement Bill. I hope I have explained why the procedures for the powers in this Bill are of a different nature to those in the withdrawal Act and why the Government therefore cannot accept these amendments.

I turn to Amendment 66A, tabled in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Tope. As noble Lords are aware, consequential powers are standard provisions in legislation—even legislation of great constitutional importance, such as the Constitutional Reform Act or the devolution statutes. The Bill already includes many consequential amendments at Schedule 5, but we also need to take a power to make further consequential provisions to the statute book. Again, this power is limited to making amendments consequential to the contents of the Act itself and. like consequential powers in other primary legislation, this power will be construed strictly by the courts. It is in everyone’s interest that the statute book functions effectively.

Lord Tyler Portrait Lord Tyler
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Is the Minister really saying that Clause 41(1) is so limited in that way? Perhaps I may read it to him again:

“A Minister of the Crown may by regulations make such provision as the Minister considers appropriate in consequence of this Act.”


That is very widely drawn. If, as he said just now, there are fewer orders in prospect, that makes it all the more important that, with something as important as this, the recommendations of the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee and the Constitution Committee be taken into account. I cannot see that his argument stands up.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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The clause that the noble Lord quoted comes under the consequential provisions. As I just said, the consequential power is construed strictly by the courts. I am advised by departmental lawyers that there is an extremely narrow focus; they are amendments that can be made only as a direct consequence of the Bill when it is enacted. I do not think that it in any way provides leeway for a Minister to make things up on the spur of the moment and amend primary legislation. The powers are very strictly constrained to consequential amendments, and this is not an unusual provision. It exists in many other Acts, including those I quoted earlier. We believe that moving the consequential provision to the affirmative procedure would frustrate the ability of departments to make consequential changes before exit day.

As I said also on the other amendments, I am sure that the noble Lord will agree that the use of the negative procedure does not prevent parliamentary scrutiny taking place. Members will still have the opportunity to pray against regulations should they consider it appropriate—and, as I said, there are the restrictions on the use of that power that I mentioned earlier.

I hope that, with the reassurances I have given noble Lords and a fuller explanation of the powers we propose to take, the noble Baroness will feel able to withdraw her amendment.

Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town Portrait Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town
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Let it never be said that we think the Minister would make up something on the spur of the moment.

I have only two things to say. First, I am sure that both our Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee and our Constitution Committee considered the points that the Minister has just made and nevertheless recommended a sifting procedure, but be that as it may. Secondly—this does not actually affect these particular amendments, because we are talking about the negative procedure here—the Minister said that there would be fewer SIs under this Bill. He also said that it has “narrower powers.” I do not think our noble and learned Members who spoke the other day would see the power it gave, albeit of the affirmative, to Ministers to alter the way ECJ rulings are heard as a “narrow power.” But that, as I say, is not covered by this, although some of the powers in the Bill are rather large.

However, the point the Minister makes about the ability to pray against negative draft orders is significant. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

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Lord McNicol of West Kilbride Portrait Lord McNicol of West Kilbride
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My Lords, I responded to an amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, on day 1 of Committee, so it seems we have come full circle. I offer a brief response to these further amendments regarding the independent monitoring authority. I understand that these are probing amendments, and I am keen to hear the Minister’s response, so I will not detain the Committee after three consecutive days of debate on this Bill, which I hope will not be a trend in future when debating Bills off the back of Brexit.

I am particularly interested in Amendments 49 and 50, which would prevent the Secretary of State from appointing a person to the IMA against the wishes of the relevant body. This suggestion strikes me as entirely sensible. Given previous ministerial assurances on the issues of devolution, I would be very interested to hear from the Minister in what circumstances the Government would seek to force through an appointment that had been opposed by a devolved Minister. If that were to happen, the current sub-paragraph (7) requires the Secretary of State to make a statement outlining the reasons for proceeding with that appointment. Can the Minister confirm what form this statement would take, and what opportunities, if any, the relevant devolved legislatures would have to hold the Secretary of State to account?

Lord Keen of Elie Portrait Lord Keen of Elie
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I am obliged to the noble Lords, Lord Greaves and Lord McNicol of West Kilbride, for their contributions.

As was the case during Tuesday’s debate on Clause 15, we have noticed the importance of the IMA’s role and functions interacting properly with the devolved settlements. I seek to reassure the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, and the House, that the IMA has been designed in a way that takes into account the individual interests and circumstances of Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, England and indeed Gibraltar.

In addressing the amendments, I begin by showing the Committee that the Government’s approach to establishing the IMA, as set out in Clause 15 and Schedule 2, was reached following detailed and extensive engagement with the devolved Administrations. As a result of this consultation, we have ensured on the face of the Bill that the IMA’s board will contain members with knowledge of relevant matters in relation to citizens right across the United Kingdom. Those relevant matters include not only matters reserved for the United Kingdom Government, but also matters that are devolved to the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish Administrations. Therefore, we have provided a full and robust role for Ministers of the devolved Administrations in the appointment of candidates to board positions. Of course, parts of the citizens’ rights agreements that the IMA will monitor, such as provisions covering healthcare, welfare and education, are already devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which has been taken into account. That is why there is a requirement for expertise in these areas.

However, I reassure the noble Lord, Lord Greaves, that the IMA will also possess the same expertise specifically in relation to England. He refers to Amendment 48 as seeking to achieve expertise in that area, but I draw his attention to paragraph 4(1) of Schedule 2, which states that

“the Secretary of State and the non-executive members must have regard to the desirability of the IMA’s”

board possessing relevant expertise in relation to citizens’ rights across the United Kingdom. It should embrace both reserved areas which are pan-UK and those devolved areas specific to the particular devolved Administrations. We can ensure by default that regard is had to the desirability of the IMA possessing expertise in relation to England. It is for that reason that Amendments 48 and 51 are unnecessary and I shall in due course invite the noble Lord not to press them.