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