As drafted, the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill will strengthen the hand of the executive, not Parliament, because of its provisions for delegated powers and their scrutiny.
The broad scope of the delegated powers (including Henry VIII powers) within the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, the inadequate constraints placed on them, and shortcomings in the proposed parliamentary control of the delegated legislation that will be made using them, constitute a toxic mix, for Parliament and the balance of power between executive and legislature.
In a new report, ‘Taking Back Control for Brexit and Beyond: Delegated Legislation, Parliamentary Scrutiny and the EU (Withdrawal) Bill’, the Hansard Society proposes a three-part solution to the problem:
- The EU (Withdrawal) Bill should be amended to circumscribe the powers it delegates more tightly;
- A new, bespoke, EU (Withdrawal) Order strengthened scrutiny procedure should be introduced for the exercise of the widest delegated powers; and
- A new House of Commons ‘sift and scrutiny’ system – with a dedicated Delegated Legislation Scrutiny Committee – should be established for all delegated legislation.
Table of contents
- Executive summary
- The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill: delegated powers and their scrutiny
- House of Commons scrutiny of delegated legislation: an inadequate system
- A new ‘sift and scrutiny’ system for the House of Commons
- A new strengthened scrutiny procedure for the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill
- Reform of House of Lords scrutiny of delegated legislation
- Appendix: The negative and affirmative procedures under the proposed new ‘sift and scrutiny’ system in the House of Commons
Enjoy reading this? Please consider sharing it
‘Erskine May’, the authoritative guide to Parliament’s procedures and practice, went online on 2 July. The move has significant implications for democratic transparency and for Parliament’s interaction with the public. Here, one of the editors of the new edition, Clerk of the Journals Mark Hutton, explains why and how the innovation came about.
Some backbench MPs are seeking to use House of Commons approval of the government’s Main Estimates for 2019-20 as a vehicle against a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, meaning the process is attracting greater interest than usual. We set out how the Estimates process works, how it has changed over the years, and how it could be improved in the future.
On the 40th anniversary of the creation of departmental select committees, Harriet Harman, the longest continuously-serving woman MP, offers some personal reflections on the growing importance of select committees and their chairs, particularly at a time of considerable political instability.
As an elector in Brecon and Radnorshire, Hansard Society Trustee Sir Paul Silk sets out 12 shortcomings he observed in the recall petition process that led on 21 June to the triggering of a parliamentary by-election in the constituency.
The focus is on what might happen at the end of the pre-summer Commons sitting period now underway – rightly, given its potential political and constitutional significance. But the dearth of government legislative business means the six weeks before then could present opportunities for the opposition, backbenchers and select committees, including on Brexit.