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Attempting to put Parliament in the driving seat on Brexit

December 30, 2020 11:00 AM
By Ed Davey
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Today, we have tabled a series of amendments to the European Union (Future Relationship) Bill that demand the Government protect British businesses, the rights of UK nationals and ensure Parliament has proper scrutiny over the future relationship agreement.

By allowing Parliament just a few hours to debate the trade deal he Government has committed an affront to our democracy.

The amendments to give Parliament additional scrutiny over the trade deal, which are to be considered by the Speaker, include:

  • A clause to give Parliament the power to appoint and vote on the UK's representatives to the committees responsible for overseeing the Agreement.
  • Clauses to require the Government to publish regular independent reports on the impact of the future relationship agreement and prevent Ministers from using secondary legislation to amend primary legislation in order to implement the future relationship agreement.

We have also requested the Government agree to preserve the right of UK nationals living in the EEA and Switzerland who return to live in the UK in future to be joined by non-British family members on the same terms as they do at present.

By allowing Parliament just a few hours to debate the trade deal he Government has committed an "affront to our democracy".

Other amendments lodged by the Liberal Democrats also included demands on Ministers to fund a package to mitigate the impact of the deal on UK businesses and introduce an adjustment period of three months.

It is clear that this is a bad deal that will make people's lives poorer, so the Liberal Democrats will vote against it.

For the Government to limit scrutiny and debate on this trade deal to just a few hours is an affront to our democracy. Given the risk to business and rights of UK nationals, Parliament must be in the driving seat.

The only way forward is to agree an adjustment period to ease the pain for businesses and quickly get to repairing the UK's damaged relationships with our most important international partners.

The eight amendments we tabled are:

Business mitigation

To move the following Clause-

"Establishment of a mitigation package

(1) The United Kingdom Government must guarantee and fund the establishment of a mitigation package for businesses and communities across the UK.

(2) The impact and success of this fund shall be reviewed by an independent economic body every six months.

(3) The fund must be established in consultation with the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland."

Role of Parliament

To move the following Clause-

Parliamentary oversight

(1) The United Kingdom's representatives on the Partnership Council and Committees shall be appointed by Parliament.

(2) The Secretary of State must lay before each House of Parliament a report on each meeting of the Partnership Council and Committees, as soon as practicable after the meeting has concluded.

(3) The Government may only suspend or terminate the Agreement, or any part of it, if a motion to that effect has been passed by a majority of both Houses of Parliament.

(4) In this section-

"Partnership Council" means the Partnership Council established under Article INST.1 of the future relationship agreement;

"Committees" means the committees established under Article INST.2 of the future relationship agreement."

Impact reports

To move the following Clause-

Independent review

(1) The Secretary of State must arrange for an independent review of the impact of the future relationship agreement in relation to each of the following periods-

(a) the initial one-year period, and

(b) each subsequent three-year period.

(2) A review must be completed as soon as practicable after the end of the period to which the review relates.

(3) The review must consider the impact of the future relationship agreement on-

(a) the economy of the United Kingdom,

(b) national security,

(c) climate change and the environment,

(d) human rights, and

(e) social and economic rights.

(4) As soon as practicable after a person has carried out a review in relation to a particular period, the person must-

(a) produce a report of the outcome of the review, and

(b) send a copy of the report to the Secretary of State.

(5) The Secretary of State must lay before each House of Parliament a copy of each report sent under subsection (4)(b).

(6) The Secretary of State may-

(a) make such payments as the Secretary of State thinks appropriate in connection with the carrying out of a review, and

(b) make such other arrangements as the Secretary of State thinks appropriate in connection with the carrying out of a review (including arrangements for the provision of staff, other resources and facilities).

(7) In this section-

"initial one-year period" means the period of one year beginning on the day following IP completion day as defined in section 39 of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020;

"subsequent three-year period" means a period of three years beginning with the first day after the most recent of-

(a) the initial one-year period, or

(b) the most recent subsequent three-year period."

Family Reunion

To move the following Clause-

Family reunion

(1) A Minister of the Crown must by regulations make provision to enable UK citizens falling within the personal scope of-

(a) the Withdrawal Agreement,

(b) the EEA EFTA separation agreement, or

(c) the Swiss citizens' rights agreement,

to return to the United Kingdom accompanied by, or to be joined in the United Kingdom by, close family members.

(2) Regulations under subsection (1) may not impose any conditions on the entry or residence of close family members of UK citizens which could not have been imposed under EU law relating to free movement, as on the day on which this Act comes into force.

(3) For the purposes of subsection (1)-

"close family members" means-

(a) children (including adopted children), and

(b) other close family members where that relation subsisted on or before 31 January 2020 and has continued to subsist;

"Withdrawal Agreement", "EEA EFTA separation agreement" and "Swiss citizens' rights agreement" have the meaning given in section 39 of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020."

Modifications to domestic law

Clause 29, page 23, line 10, at end insert-

"(1A) A relevant national authority must introduce legislation to implement any modifications under subsection (1) as soon as practicable after the need for those modifications has been identified."

Henry VIII powers (1)

Clause 31, page 24, leave out lines 19 and 20.

Henry VIII powers (2)

Clause 31, page 24, line 39, at end insert-

"(f) amend, repeal or revoke any primary legislation."

Grace period

To move the following Clause-

"Grace period for businesses

The Government must negotiate an adjustment period of at least three months, beginning on IP completion day, to give businesses time to prepare for and adapt to the new terms of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement."