Act of Union Bill (HL Bill 132)

A

BILL

TO

Provide a renewed constitutional form for the peoples of England, Scotland,
Wales and Northern Ireland to continue to join together to form the United
Kingdom; to affirm that the peoples of those nations and parts have chosen,
subject to and in accordance with the provisions of this Act, to continue to
pool their sovereignty for specified purposes; and to protect social and
economic rights for citizens.

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and
consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present
Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

Part 1 Foundation of the United Kingdom

1 Status of United Kingdom

(1) The purpose of the United Kingdom is to provide a strong and effective union
5between the peoples of the constituent nations and parts.

(2) The commencement referendum provided for by Part 11 provides an
opportunity for the peoples of the constituent nations and parts to affirm that
they have chosen to continue to pool their sovereignty for the purposes
specified in this Act.

(3) 10The constituent nations and parts of the United Kingdom are—

(a) England,

(b) Scotland,

(c) Wales, and

(d) Northern Ireland.

(4) 15Each of those remains a constituent nation or part of the United Kingdom
unless and until a majority of the people of that nation or part vote to leave in
a referendum held for the purposes of this section.

(5) Subsection (6) applies if—

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(a) a majority of the people voting in a referendum conducted in
accordance with an Act of Parliament express a wish for England to
cease to be part of the United Kingdom; or

(b) a majority of the people voting in a referendum conducted in
5accordance with an Act of the Scottish Parliament express a wish for
Scotland to cease to be part of the United Kingdom; or

(c) a majority of the people voting in a referendum conducted in
accordance with an Act of the Welsh Parliament / Senedd Cymru
express a wish for Wales to cease to be part of the United Kingdom; or

(d) 10a majority of the people voting in a referendum conducted in
accordance with an Act of the Northern Ireland Assembly express a
wish for Northern Ireland to cease to be part of the United Kingdom.

(6) Where this subsection applies, the Secretary of State must lay before
Parliament such proposals to give effect to the wish expressed in the relevant
15referendum under subsection (5) as may be agreed between Her Majesty’s
Government in the United Kingdom and the Government of England,
Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland (as the case may be).

(7) In the case of Northern Ireland, proposals under subsection (6) must also be
agreed between Her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom and the
20Government of Ireland.

2 Core purposes

(1) The following are the principal purposes of the United Kingdom—

1. The rule of law and equality before the law.

2. The protection of fundamental rights and freedoms.

253. Defence of the realm and the conduct of foreign relations.

4. The promotion of tolerance and respect.

5. Equality of opportunity.

6. Provision of a safe and secure society.

7. Provision of a strong economy.

308. Protection of social and economic rights, including provision of access to
education and health and other social services (including the National Health
Service).

9. Benefiting from shared history and culture.

(2) A public authority of the United Kingdom or any part of the United Kingdom
35must have regard to the core purposes in the exercise of its functions.

(3) A court or tribunal may have regard to the core purposes of the United
Kingdom in any case to which they appear relevant (but they do not take
priority over the application of specific provisions of legislation).

Part 2 40Central policy areas

3 Introduction

This Part determines the policy areas in respect of which legislation is to be
passed, and functions are to be exercised, exclusively by Parliament and Her
Majesty’s Government.

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4 List of central policy areas

(1) Part 1 of the Schedule lists central policy areas for the purposes of this Act.

(2) Part 2 of the Schedule provides for the amendment of the list of central areas.

5 Effect of inclusion in list

(1) 5No legislature other than Parliament has power to pass legislation in relation
to a central policy area (but this section is subject to section 6).

(2) No public authority other than a Minister of the Crown has power to make
subordinate legislation in relation to a central policy area.

(3) No public authority other than a Minister of the Crown may undertake
10activities or exercise a function in relation to a central policy area, except in
pursuance of an express statutory function.

(4) In this section, a reference to a Minister of the Crown includes a person acting
on behalf of a Minister of the Crown.

(5) A purported legislative or other enactment or act is void if and so far as it is
15inconsistent with subsections (1) to (3).

6 Incidental provision about central areas

(1) A legislature specified in subsection (2) may include in an Act of that
legislature provision relating to a central policy area with the consent of
Parliament signified in advance by a resolution in the following form—

20“Parliament consents to the inclusion in the [Short Title] Bill before the [Name
of Parliament / Assembly] of the provision set out in the Annex to this
Resolution, being incidental to one or more provisions which relate to matters
outside central policy areas as defined in the Act of Union 2018.”

(2) Those legislatures are—

(a) 25the English Parliament;

(b) the Scottish Parliament;

(c) the Welsh Parliament / Senedd Cymru; and

(d) the Northern Ireland Assembly.

7 Rulings of Supreme Court

(1) 30Any person may bring proceedings in the Supreme Court for a declaration in
respect of a legislative or other enactment or action as to whether it is
inconsistent with section 5(1) to (3).

(2) Unless and until a declaration has been granted that a legislative or other
enactment or action is inconsistent with section 5(1) to (3), it shall be treated for
35all purposes as being consistent with those subsections.

(3) The Supreme Court may on the application of any person give a ruling about
the construction of—

(a) an item listed in Part 1 of the Schedule, or

(b) another provision of this Act about central policy areas.

(4) 40A ruling of the Supreme Court under subsection (3) binds—

(a) all other courts and tribunals in the United Kingdom, and

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(b) a public authority of the United Kingdom or any part of the United
Kingdom.

(5) Rules of the Supreme Court may make procedural provision about
proceedings under this section (which may include a requirement for
5permission, requirements about timing and other conditions).

Part 3 England

English Parliament Option

8 Introduction

(1) 10This group of sections—

(a) makes provision for the establishment of a directly elected English
Parliament; and

(b) comes into force if, in the commencement referendum provided for by
Part 11, a majority of the votes cast in England are in favour of this Act
15coming into force and in favour of the establishment of an English
Parliament.

(2) If and when this Part comes into force—

(a) a reference to an Act of Parliament in sections 1(5) and 45(3) becomes a
reference to an Act of the English Parliament, and

(b) 20a reference in sections 41(2) and 52(2) to representatives for England
becomes a reference to representatives of the English Government.

9 English Parliament

(1) There shall be an English Parliament.

(2) The Members of the English Parliament shall be elected for the same
25constituencies as the constituencies in England used for elections to the House
of Commons.

(3) The English Parliament may by Act make arrangements about elections to the
English Parliament.

(4) Subject to any Act passed in accordance with subsection (3), the Secretary of
30State may by regulations make provision for the adaptation of the
Representation of the People Act 1983 to elections for the English Parliament.

(5) Regulations under subsection (4)—

(a) shall be made by statutory instrument;

(b) may include incidental, consequential or transitional provision;

(c) 35may not be made unless a draft has been laid before and approved by
resolution of each House of Parliament.

10 Legislative competence

(1) The English Parliament has legislative competence in relation to England in
respect of any matter that is not within a central policy area for the purposes of
40this Act.

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(2) Further provision about the proceedings of the English Parliament, and the
establishment of an English Government, shall be made by Act of Parliament.

Regional Devolution Option

11 Introduction

5This group of sections—

(a) continues the present arrangements whereby Parliament makes law for
England in relation to matters that are devolved in respect of any or all
of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland;

(b) enables cities and regions within England to choose to establish
10arrangements for devolved government; and

(c) comes into force if, in the commencement referendum provided for by
Part 11, a majority of the votes cast in England are in favour of this Act
coming into force and in favour of the regional devolution option for
England.

12 15UK Parliament jurisdiction

(1) The UK Parliament shall continue to have jurisdiction over matters in relation
to England, whether or not they would be devolved in relation to Scotland,
Wales or Northern Ireland.

(2) Only Members of Parliament for constituencies in England may vote on
20primary or secondary legislation that extends only to England.

(3) The Speaker of the UK Parliament may certify a Bill or statutory instrument as
to be treated as extending only to England for the purposes of this section if—

(a) it contains provisions which do not extend only to England, but

(b) the Speaker is satisfied that those provisions are reasonably required to
25give effect to or in consequence of provisions of the Bill or statutory
instrument that do extend only to England.

(4) A decision of the Speaker to act (or not to act) under subsection (3)(b) may be
challenged by application to the Supreme Court; and rules of that court may
establish procedures for applications under this subsection (which may
30include provisions about timing and other conditions).

13 City deals

(1) A local authority may prepare proposals for the acquisition by a city within its
area of devolved powers.

(2) Provisions about the preparation, determination and implementation of
35proposals in accordance with subsection (1) shall be made by Act of
Parliament.

(3) Proposals for the acquisition of devolved powers take effect only if approved
by a majority of those voting in a referendum held by the proposing local
authority.

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14 40Regional devolution

(1) Two or more unitary authorities may prepare joint proposals for the creation
of a region with devolved powers.

(2) Proposals shall be prepared, determined and implemented in accordance with
5provision to be made by Regional Devolution Act.

(3) Proposals for the acquisition of devolved powers take effect only if approved,
in a referendum held by the proposing unitary authorities in accordance with
a Regional Devolution Act, by—

(a) a majority of those voting, and

(b) 10a majority of those voting in the area of each of the proposing local
authorities.

Part 4 Scotland

15 Introduction

(1) 15This Part requires the amendment of the Scotland Act 1998 to ensure that the
Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government have competence in all
matters except the central policy areas assigned to Parliament and Her
Majesty’s Government by Part 2.

(2) The amendments required to be achieved by this Part shall be made—

(a) 20by Act of Parliament, to which the Scottish Parliament has consented by
motion, or

(b) by regulations made by the Secretary of State during the period of six
months beginning with the commencement of this section.

(3) Regulations under subsection (2)(b)—

(a) 25shall be made by statutory instrument;

(b) may include incidental, consequential or transitional provision;

(c) may not be made unless a draft has been laid before and approved by
resolution of the Scottish Parliament and of each House of Parliament.

16 Elections to the Scottish Parliament

30The Scotland Act 1998 shall be amended so that the powers of the Secretary of
State in the following provisions become powers of the Scottish Ministers, and
requirements to consult the Secretary of State shall be omitted—

(a) section 12 (power to make provision about elections);

(b) section 12A (power of the Secretary of State to make provision about
35elections).

17 Abolition of power to intervene: Scottish Parliament

Section 35 of the Scotland Act 1998 (power to intervene in certain cases) shall
be repealed.

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18 Abolition of power to intervene: Scottish Government

Section 58 of the Scotland Act 1998 (power to prevent or require action) shall
be repealed.

19 Public money

5The following provisions of the Scotland Act 1998 shall be repealed—

(a) section 64(4) and (5) (payment of designated receipts from Scottish
Consolidated Fund into the Consolidated Fund);

(b) sections 66, 67 and 67A (borrowing by Scottish Ministers);

(c) section 68 (borrowing by statutory bodies); and

(d) 10section 72 (accounts of loans to Scottish Ministers).

Part 5 Wales

20 Welsh Parliament / Senedd Cymru

(1) The Welsh Parliament / Senedd Cymru shall continue to exercise legislative
15and other jurisdiction and functions in accordance with the Government of
Wales Acts and other relevant enactments.

(2) This Part requires the amendment of the Government of Wales Acts to ensure
that the Welsh Parliament / Senedd Cymru and the Welsh Government have
competence in all matters except the central policy areas assigned to
20Parliament and Her Majesty’s Government by Part 2.

(3) The amendments required to be achieved by this Part shall be made—

(a) by Act of Parliament, to which the Welsh Parliament / Senedd Cymru
has consented by resolution, or

(b) by regulations made by the Secretary of State during the period of six
25months beginning with the commencement of this section.

(4) Regulations under subsection (3)(b)—

(a) shall be made by statutory instrument;

(b) may include incidental, consequential or transitional provision;

(c) may not be made unless a draft has been laid before and approved by
30resolution of the Welsh Parliament / Senedd Cymru and of each House
of Parliament.

(5) In this Act “the Government of Wales Acts” means—

(a) the Government of Wales Act 1998,

(b) the Government of Wales Act 2006,

(c) 35the Wales Act 2014, and

(d) the Wales Act 2017.

21 Welsh Government

The Welsh Government shall continue to exercise functions in accordance with
the Government of Wales Acts and other relevant enactments.

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22 Control by Wales of own governance arrangements

The Government of Wales Acts shall be amended (if necessary) to achieve the
following—

(a) providing for matters concerning elections to the Welsh Parliament /
5Senedd Cymru to be legislated by the Welsh Parliament / Senedd
Cymru itself;

(b) removing powers of Parliament to intervene in the affairs of the Welsh
Parliament / Senedd Cymru;

(c) removing powers of Government to intervene in the affairs of the
10Welsh Government;

(d) removing controls on payments out of the Welsh Consolidated Fund;

(e) removing existing controls on borrowing by Welsh Ministers.

Part 6 Northern Ireland

23 15Northern Ireland Assembly

The Northern Ireland Assembly shall continue to exercise legislative and other
jurisdiction and functions in accordance with the Northern Ireland Act 1998
and other relevant enactments.

24 Northern Ireland Executive

20The Northern Ireland Executive shall continue to exercise functions in
accordance with the Northern Ireland Act 1998 and other relevant enactments.

Part 7 Parliament

Abolition of House of Lords Option

25 25Introduction

This group of sections—

(a) makes provision for the abolition of the House of Lords and the
restructuring of Parliament; and

(b) comes into force if in the commencement referendum provided for by
30Part 11 a majority of the votes cast in the United Kingdom as a whole,
and in each of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, are in
favour of the abolition of the House of Lords.

26 Restructuring overview

(1) The House of Commons shall become known as the United Kingdom
35Parliament (“UK Parliament”) and shall continue to be elected as set out in
section 27.

(2) The House of Lords shall be abolished in accordance with section 28.

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(3) A Scrutiny Committee for the UK Parliament shall be constituted in accordance
with section 29 by delegates elected for that purpose by the subnational
Parliaments.

(4) A Scrutiny Committee for each of the subnational Parliaments shall be
5constituted by the relevant national members of the UK Parliament in
accordance with section 30.

(5) In this Part “subnational Parliaments” means—

(a) the English Parliament;

(b) the Scottish Parliament;

(c) 10the Welsh Parliament/Senedd Cymru; and

(d) the Northern Ireland Assembly.

27 UK Parliament

(1) The UK Parliament (the former House of Commons - see section 26) shall
continue to be elected with representatives from throughout the United
15Kingdom.

(2) In place of the existing constituencies, new arrangements shall be specified by
a Representation of the People Act for the election of 146 Members of
Parliament.

(3) The Representation of the People Acts shall continue to apply to elections to the
20UK Parliament.

(4) The UK Parliament has exclusive legislative competence in relation to central
areas.

(5) The UK Parliament continues to exercise the authority of the Sovereign
Parliament of the United Kingdom.

(6) 25Nothing in this Act diminishes or otherwise affects the extent of that
Sovereignty.

(7) Her Majesty may by Order in Council make arrangements for the exercise of
ceremonial functions by the Sovereign in Parliament (including Royal Assent,
the Opening of Parliament and other ceremonial functions); and an Order in
30Council under this subsection—

(a) may amend an Act of Parliament, and

(b) may not be made unless a draft has been laid before and approved by
resolution of each House of Parliament.

(8) For the avoidance of doubt, it is open to the UK Parliament to pass Acts of
35Parliament amending or repealing this Act.

(9) After the commencement of this Act, the Enactment Formula for Acts of
Parliament shall become—

“Be it enacted by the Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice
and consent of the Commons in this present Parliament assembled, and by the
40authority of the same, as follows:—”.

(10) In this Act—

(a) a member of the UK Parliament returned for a constituency in England
is referred to as an “English MP”;