1.In her speech to the Conservative Party Conference in October 2016, the Prime Minister proposed a Great Repeal Bill to repeal the European Communities Act 1972 (ECA) to end the authority of EU law in the UK, and to convert the acquis communautaire into British law in order to provide certainty as the UK leaves the European Union. She reaffirmed this commitment in her speech at Lancaster House on 17 January 2017.
2.Our predecessor Committee reported in the last Parliament that the “importance and complexity of ensuring legal certainty in the UK on the day after Brexit must not be underestimated” and urged the Government to publish the “Great Repeal Bill” in draft to enable the “fullest scrutiny” of its provisions to take place before formal consideration in Parliament. We remain of the view that this would have been desirable.
3.The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill was introduced to Parliament on 13 July 2017. As a result of the time taken to reconstitute this Committee after the General Election, the Bill had its Second Reading on 7 and 11 September 2017 before we were able to begin this inquiry. This has consequently been a short inquiry to examine aspects of the Bill and seek to inform Committee and Report Stages as far as possible.
4.We agreed the Terms of Reference on 13 September 2017, calling for evidence on:
5.Since its introduction, much commentary, debate and analysis on the Bill has focussed on its proposed delegated powers and the parliamentary scrutiny to which they will be subject. The Commons’ Procedure Committee, the Lords’ Constitution Committee and the Lords’ Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee have all launched inquiries and already published Reports on this matter.
6.We have therefore focussed on the Bill’s provisions for converting the acquis communautaire, its implications for the devolution settlements and on the powers to implement the withdrawal agreement.
7.We received 19 memoranda in the course of the inquiry. We held three oral evidence sessions looking at the legal and constitutional implications of the Bill; the provisions on devolution; and the implications for rights, regulations and enforcement. These were followed by oral evidence from the Parliamentary Under-Secretaries of State for the Department for Exiting the European Union, Mr Steve Baker MP and Mr Robin Walker MP. We are grateful to all those who have given evidence to this inquiry.
1 Speech given by Theresa May, , 2 October 2016
2 Speech given by Theresa May , Lancaster House, 17 January 2017
3 Third Report of Session 2016–17, , HC 1125, para 3
4 First Report of Session 2016–17, , HC 815, para 71
5 Procedure Committee, First Report of Session 2017–19, , HC 386
6 House of Lords Constitution Committee, Third Report of Session 2017–19, , HL 19
7 House of Lords Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee Third Report of Session 2017–19, , HL 22
17 November 2017