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Great Repeal Bill

Volume 620: debated on Thursday 2 February 2017

1. If he will bring forward a motion to disapply Standing Orders No. 83J to 83X from proceedings on the Government’s planned Great Repeal Bill. (908556)

2. If he will bring forward a motion to disapply Standing Orders No. 83J to 83X from proceedings on the Government’s planned Great Repeal Bill. (908557)

3. If he will bring forward a motion to disapply Standing Orders No. 83J to 83X from proceedings on the Government's planned Great Repeal Bill. (908558)

4. If he will bring forward a motion to disapply Standing Orders No. 83J to 83X from proceedings on the Government's planned Great Repeal Bill. (908559)

5. If he will bring forward a motion to disapply Standing Orders No. 83J to 83X from proceedings on the Government’s planned Great Repeal Bill. (908560)

Given the importance of the great repeal Bill to the devolved Administrations, will the Leader of the House give a clear guarantee that all Members of this House will be able to scrutinise and vote on all parts of this Bill to ensure that the great repeal Bill does not turn into the great power grab?

Yes, of course. As I am sure the hon. Gentleman himself acknowledges, the so-called EVEL provisions under our Standing Orders do not bar any Member of the House of Commons, from any part of the United Kingdom, from taking part in votes on the different Readings of any Bill and on amendments to any Bill.

Given that we cannot categorically rule out EVEL and that the Secretary of State for Scotland has said that a legislative consent motion will be required for the great repeal Bill, what exactly is the Government’s position?

The Standing Orders of the House apply in the usual way. If any Bill, any clause of a Bill or any amendment to a Bill affects only England, but covers matters that, in Scotland, are devolved, it must, in addition to commanding a majority among Members of the House as a whole, command a majority among those Members representing English constituencies.

The Procedure Committee, on which I sit, produced a report that noted:

“There is an apparent lack of appetite for debate in legislative grand committee at present.”

Given that the Government are tabling programme motions that allow absolutely no time for debate, surely the Leader of the House must share my opinion that current EVEL procedures are a piece of nonsense.

If the Legislative Grand Committee is proceeding smoothly, it suggests to me that most Members from across the House are satisfied with the way in which our Standing Orders are operating. On the hon. Lady’s point about programme motions, may I point out to her that apart from the Division last night on the article 50 Bill, we have had no Division so far in this Parliament on any programme motion moved after Second Reading?

The UK Government continue to tell us that Holyrood is the most powerful devolved Parliament, yet they are not consulting Scotland on the triggering of article 50. Does the Leader of the House agree that by also refusing Scottish MPs the opportunity to vote on all areas of the great repeal Bill, the Government are doing everything possible to stop the voice of Scottish people being heard on Brexit?

Quite the contrary: I think that both my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland have made, and will continue to make, every effort to ensure that the interests of the people of Scotland are fully represented at all stages of the forthcoming negotiation as part of the package we are seeking for the United Kingdom.

During the referendum campaign, we were told that all non-reserved powers would return to Scotland. Worryingly, the UK Government have not opened any discussions with the Scottish Government about that. When will the Government discuss with the Scottish Government what additional powers may be devolved to Scotland as a result of the UK withdrawing from the European Union?

We have said already, including at the Joint Ministerial Committee, that we are going to talk intensively to the Scottish Government about how to address the issue of powers that return to the United Kingdom from the European Union. If we look, for example, at fisheries—an issue that is devolved to the Scottish Parliament, in respect of UK fisheries policy—we see that that also involves third-country agreements negotiated between the EU and other nation states. It involves United Nations conventions. The Scotland Act 1998 says, in terms, that international agreements are a reserved matter. Those are exactly the things that we need to thrash out in detail in the conversations with our colleagues in the Scottish Government.

How about 83A? I whipped Bills through Committee perfectly effectively before we introduced the dismal practice of routine guillotining, but perhaps we were all better behaved and more reasonable then.

I am sure that my right hon. Friend sets an example to all Members of the House with his common sense and good reason. I say again that I think it was perfectly fair and right for this House to change its Standing Orders in response to the different balance of powers that now exists in the United Kingdom as a consequence of devolution.