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Leaving the EU: UK Legal System

Volume 637: debated on Tuesday 6 March 2018

10. What plans the Government have to ensure that the UK legal system operates effectively after the UK leaves the EU. (904197)

20. What plans the Government have to ensure that the UK legal system operates effectively after the UK leaves the EU. (904207)

21. What plans the Government have to ensure that the UK legal system operates effectively after the UK leaves the EU. (904208)

It is absolutely right that we provide legal certainty for businesses, families and individuals as we leave the European Union. That is why, as the Prime Minister said in her speech on Friday, part of our future partnership with the EU will be to have effective reciprocal arrangements with the EU to deal with cross-border legal disputes in civil and family matters. The best way to deliver that co-operation is with a close and comprehensive agreement between the UK and the EU that sets out coherent common rules.

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer. Leaving the EU is likely to lead to additional workload for the UK legal system. What additional resources have been made available to his Department and to the legal and courts system more generally to ensure that they are fully prepared?

My hon. Friend is right that we should be prepared. He will be aware that the Treasury has made another £3 billion of extra funding available to Departments for 2018 to 2020. We are in discussion with the Treasury about the allocation for the justice system, and we hope to agree it soon.

As we leave the European Union, many powers over many aspects of our legal and judicial enforcement will return from Brussels. What discussions have the Government had with the Scottish Government on how such policies will be implemented after Brexit, and does the Secretary of State agree that the SNP Government’s disruptive continuity Bill will do nothing but add to the uncertainty in our country?

We are committed to securing a deal that works for the entire United Kingdom—for Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and all parts of England. The Government expect that the outcome of leaving the EU will significantly increase the decision making of each devolved Administration. I can tell the House that I wrote to Michael Matheson last month to reaffirm the Department’s commitment to continue meaningful engagement with the Scottish Government.

Professional services, including legal services, are clearly one of the key exports of this country. What is my right hon. Friend doing to ensure that there will be new arrangements for the recognition of legal standards and qualifications?

My hon. Friend raises a good question. We recognise that this is an important right to protect UK nationals, so that they can continue with their chosen line of work. It has already been agreed that those who have received a recognition decision or applied for one before the withdrawal date will be able to have their qualifications recognised after exit, including lawyers. Talks on many key issues, including the mutual recognition of professional qualifications, will continue into the next phase of negotiations. We will seek to reach an agreement with the EU on parts of MRPQ that are not seen as in scope of the withdrawal negotiations, such as home title practice. The Prime Minister has been clear that she wants EU nationals in the UK and UK nationals in the EU to be able to continue their lives broadly as now.

Order. The hon. Member for Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey (Drew Hendry) has a not wholly dissimilar inquiry at Question 19, and he is welcome to come in on this question if he is so inclined, because we are not likely to reach Question 19.

19. I would be delighted to do so. Thank you very much, Mr Speaker.As the Prime Minister has made a number of concessions with regard to the European Court of Justice after Brexit and given that the Scottish Government’s legal continuity Bill provides that, when exercising devolved jurisdiction, Scottish courts may have regard to the decisions of the ECJ, is it not time to amend clause 6 of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill to the same effect? (904206)

On clause 6 and this question more widely, let us be clear: we are leaving the EU, so the jurisdiction of the ECJ will end, but EU law and the decisions of the ECJ will continue to affect us. For a start, the ECJ determines whether agreements the EU has struck are legal under the EU’s own law. If, as part of our future partnership, Parliament passes an identical law to an EU law, it makes sense for our courts to look at the appropriate ECJ judgments, so that we interpret those laws consistently. We have to remember, however, that our Parliament will remain ultimately sovereign. It could decide not to accept such rules, but there would be consequences for our membership of the relevant agencies and linked market access rights.