Lords object to ‘unfettered’ ministers imposing Brexit laws

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Sep 29, 2017
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The bill for exiting the EU would give ministers “excessively wide legislative powers”, according to a House of Lords committee


Ministers should not be handed “unfettered discretion” to implement wide-ranging secondary legislation flowing from the bill that takes Britain out of the EU, peers have said.

A House of Lords committee said that parliament and not the government should have final scrutiny of the legislation stemming from the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.

Peers recommended the creation of separate or joint committees of MPs and Lords that would be given ten days to overturn Whitehall proposals relating to Brexit legislation.

The House of Lords Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee issued a highly critical report on the government’s plans for legislating around the UK’s departure from the bloc. It said that as drafted the bill gave ministers “excessively wide legislative powers beyond what is necessary to ensure UK law works properly when the UK leaves the EU”.

The committee lashed out at the so-called Henry VIII powers, including those that allowed the government to amend the bill by statutory instrument.

“Ministers should not have the power to impose taxation by statutory instrument, and in no circumstances should fees and charges be levied by tertiary legislation,” the committee said, referring to laws made by public bodies under powers conferred on them by ministers in regulations.

It added that “whatever powers the government decide to transfer to the devolved institutions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, this should be done by means of separate bills. Issues of such constitutional importance should not be left to secondary legislation.”

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