Brexit: parliamentary scrutiny Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction

This report

1.This report explores the structures, processes and resources that will be needed if Parliament is effectively to scrutinise Brexit. We have sought to provide essential background to decisions that the two Houses will take in coming weeks and months. We have outlined the key features of the process leading to Brexit, and identified at each stage opportunities for and impediments to parliamentary engagement. We have also made our own recommendations for the House of Lords, drawing on the experience and expertise gained in the more than 40 years this Committee has scrutinised the UK’s relationship with the EU.

2.Our short inquiry has focused narrowly upon Westminster, and we have not at this time explored the options for developing closer working relationships with the devolved legislatures, or with the legislatures of the Crown Dependencies and Gibraltar. We hope to return to these issues later in the session.

3.On 6 September 2016 we heard expert evidence from the former Head of the Diplomatic Service, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard GCMG, Professor Derrick Wyatt QC, of Oxford University and Brick Court Chambers, and Ms Jill Barrett, Senior Research Fellow in Public International Law at the British Institute of International and Comparative Law. On 12 September we began a dialogue with the new Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU), taking evidence from the Secretary of State, the Rt Hon David Davis MP. We are grateful to all our witnesses for their readiness to share their views with us. The conclusions reached in this report are, of course, entirely our own.

The EU Committee’s work programme

4.Following the referendum on 23 June 2016, the European Union Committee and its six sub-committees launched a coordinated series of short inquiries, addressing the most important cross-cutting issues that will arise in the course of negotiations on Brexit.1 The pace of events means that these inquiries will necessarily be short, with only two or three public meetings in each case, and limited amounts of written evidence. But within these constraints, we are seeking to outline the major opportunities and risks that Brexit presents to the United Kingdom.

5.Our inquiries will run in parallel with the work currently being undertaken across Government, where departments are engaging with stakeholders, with a view to drawing up negotiating guidelines. But while much of the Government’s work is being conducted behind closed doors, our aim is to stimulate informed debate, in the House and beyond, on the many areas of vital national interest that will be covered in the negotiations. As far as possible we aim to complete this work before the formal commencement of negotiations in March 2017.

6.We make this report for debate.


1 See the European Union Committee’s report, Scrutinising Brexit: the role of Parliament, (1st Report, Session 2016–17 HL Paper 33).




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