Thursday, 17 May 2018

European Union (Withdrawal) Bill passes the House of Lords

The Third Reading of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill took place on 16th May and the Bill, as amended, now returns to the House of Commons.

The Lords agreed further amendments, mostly of a technical nature, to the Bill.  One particularly notable amendment was to insert a new clause dealing with Maintenance of EU environmental principles and standards.  This will require the Secretary of State to take steps designed to ensure that the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU does not result in the removal or diminution of any rights, powers, liabilities, obligations, restrictions, remedies and procedures that contribute to the protection and improvement of the environment.  This amendment passed by 294 to 244.




The 3rd Reading debate may be read at Hansard Online - HERE

The Lords amendments must now be considered by the House of Commons.  One question is when will that take place.  Lord Newby said - "As the Bill leaves your Lordships’ House, it faces an unclear future. We do not, for example, even know when it is going to be taken in the Commons. Certainly, it is not going to be taken until June. This begins to set the seal on what will be a huge challenge for the rest of the year, because the Bill presages 1,000 statutory instruments, many of which need, I assume, to be in place before the Government’s preferred exit day in March next year. The Government are also committed to bringing forward a whole range of other Brexit-related Bills before that deadline. They even have to bring forward a Bill to disapply the vast bulk of this Bill during the transition period. We are in for a very difficult period ...."

Baroness Hayter said - 

"We send this much-amended Bill back to the Commons, though with little expectation that they will deal speedily with it, as the Government have first to resolve deep divisions within their own Cabinet, particularly over the very first amendment passed by your Lordships House, on the customs union. So while we take a breather, we hope they will see some sense and accept our changes as improvements to the previously flawed Bill. It is only the first Bill. We still have Bills on trade, customs, agriculture, fishing, immigration and withdrawal and implementation, so we will see noble Lords back here on many occasions. For the moment, I shall say just one thing: this is not about whether we leave the European Union but about how we leave. That we must do properly, in the national interest, and that is what I believe this House has set out to do."

A complete list of the Lords amendments is at Bill 212 2017-19, Lords Amendments to the Bill | PDF version, 258KB






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