Motion to Approve
My Lords, I would like to address a point made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, during the debate on this SI on 4 March. I am happy to confirm that my department consulted the Scottish Government, and sought and secured their agreement to make the proposed amendments to the Interpretation and Legislative Reform (Scotland) Act 2010, as set out in Part 3 of the regulations. My department also consulted the Northern Ireland Civil Service in the absence of an Executive, securing its agreement on the proposed amendment to the Interpretation Act (Northern Ireland) 1954, as set out in Part 4 of the regulations. Officials in the Scottish Government agreed that the regulations do not require the formal consent of the Scottish Parliament. In November 2018, my colleague, Chris Heaton-Harris MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, wrote to Michael Russell MSP, the Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitutional Relations in the Scottish Government, regarding the proposed amendments. No concerns were raised. I beg to move.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for clarifying a point which was left unclear in the Explanatory Memorandum. It is very important that these matters, in dealings with the devolved Administrations, are properly set out and clarified. I am extremely grateful.
My Lords, I agree with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, on the specific point relating to Scotland. However, I wonder if the noble Lord, Lord Callanan, really wants to proceed with this SI today, given that yesterday, after the Prime Minister made her astonishing statement from Downing Street, an additional 200,000 people immediately signed up to the petition to revoke Article 50. Now more than half a million people have signed that petition. In fact, so many wanted to sign it that the website collapsed and is now being repaired so that more people can sign. In the light of that and all the other surrounding circumstances, does the Minister think it is wise to proceed yet again with this particular statutory instrument?
Unsurprisingly, the Minister does think that we should proceed with this particular statutory instrument and I am sorry that the noble Lord was not able to come along to the committee where we discussed it. If it is helpful to him, I shall set out what it actually does. Perhaps many people do believe that Article 50 should be revoked. That is not the policy of my party and as far as I know it is not the policy of his party. Were that eventuality to come to pass, although I do not think that it will, of course none of these amendments will take effect because we would not then have a leaving date. They come into effect only when we leave.
For the noble Lord’s information, let me summarise briefly what the statutory instrument does. It sets out what happens to non-ambulatory cross-references after exit day and how references made to EU legislation after exit day are to be read. The SI also amends domestic interpretation legislation to ensure that it is adequately referenced and incorporates retained EU law; that is, the new body of domestic law created by the European Union (Withdrawal) Act. Finally, this SI repeals and revokes various pieces of EU-derived domestic legislation that will become redundant on exit day. The noble Lord will notice the references to “exit day” in the regulations.
My Lords, I am most grateful to my noble friend for writing to me on the concern I expressed, which was addressed in the House of Commons when MPs considered the statutory instrument, on the fact that non-ambulatory provisions had been omitted from the original European Union (Withdrawal) Act. However, his response actually missed the point that I raised with him in my letter that was expressed by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, my honourable friend Christopher Heaton-Harris, in the other place. It is a very simple question: if this was omitted from the original Act, are there any other omissions of which he and his department are aware that may have to come back to the House in the short time available before 29 March?