First Report Contents

Terms of reference of the European Union Committee

21.The Liaison Committee agreed on 28 January that the European Union Committee’s existing terms of reference should be amended, to reflect the United Kingdom’s changed status after 31 January, and the Committee’s role during the transition period. The revised terms of reference should cover the following three areas:

(a)scrutiny of EU documents, including fulfilment of the terms of section 29 of the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Act;

(b)scrutiny of the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement and of negotiations on the future UK-EU relationship; and

(c)interparliamentary dialogue with the EU and its Member States.

22.It also agreed that the European Union Committee should establish a sub-committee responsible for scrutinising treaties or international agreements. This would, inter alia, scrutinise and report on treaties deposited under the terms of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, whether EU or non-EU related, thereby taking on tasks currently shared between the EU Committee and the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee. The new sub-committee would also be responsible for scrutinising any new international agreements or negotiations entered into by the Government. This would require a further extension of the European Union Committee’s terms of reference, to ensure that these specific non-EU matters fall clearly within its remit.

23.In order to put these Liaison Committee decisions into effect, we recommend the following revised terms of reference for the European Union Committee:

“To consider European Union documents deposited in the House by a Minister, and to report to the House, in accordance with section 29 of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020, on any European Union legislation that, in the opinion of the Committee, raises a matter of vital national interest to the United Kingdom;

To consider other matters relating to the UK’s relationship with the European Union, including the implementation of the UK/EU Withdrawal Agreement, and the Government’s conduct of negotiations on the United Kingdom’s future relationship with the European Union;

To consider matters relating to the negotiation and conclusion of international agreements;

To represent the House as appropriate in interparliamentary dialogue with the European Union and its Member States.”

24.The Liaison Committee will, during 2020, further review the structure of the House’s investigative and scrutiny committees, including the long-term role of the EU Committee, with a view to making further changes ahead of implementation in early 2021.

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