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Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill

Volume 830: debated on Monday 22 May 2023

Third Reading

Relevant documents: 28th Report from the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee, 25th and 33rd Reports from the Delegated Powers Committee, 13th Report from the Constitution Committee


Moved by

My Lords, I have it in command from His Majesty the King to acquaint the House that His Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill, has consented to place his interest, so far as it is affected by Bill, at the disposal of Parliament for the purposes of the Bill.

I am sure we are all shocked to hear that. We acknowledge the concerns of both Parliaments regarding the Bill and the potential impacts on devolved areas. However, it is right and constitutionally appropriate that the REUL Bill applies UK-wide. This will ensure that the benefits of Brexit can be realised by citizens and businesses throughout the whole United Kingdom. The Government therefore intend to proceed with the Bill without their consent. As noble Lords will be aware, the ongoing absence of the Northern Ireland Executive and the Assembly means that it has not been possible to seek legislative consent from the Northern Ireland Assembly on this Bill.

I reassure the House that it was never our intention to proceed with the Bill without consent in place. Our preference would have been to secure legislative consent Motions from the devolved legislatures. The Government have sought to engage proactively with the devolved Administrations on the REUL Bill since March last year. We have listened to their concerns and sought to make meaningful changes to the Bill in response. This includes the amendment to the sunset and the conferral of the powers to make consequential and transitional, transitory and savings provisions to the devolved authorities and devolved Ministers.

The decisions of the Scottish Parliament and the Senedd, while regrettable, will never mark the end of our engagement with the devolved Administrations on retained EU law. We remain committed to supporting sustained engagement with them on the REUL Bill and the REUL reform programme going forward.

Amendment 1

Moved by

1: After Clause 17, insert the following new Clause—

“Retained EU law dashboard and report(1) The Secretary of State must within the period of 30 days beginning with the day after the end of each reporting period—(a) update the retained EU law dashboard;(b) publish and lay before Parliament a report on the revocation and reform of retained EU law.(2) The report must—(a) provide a summary of the data on the retained EU law dashboard (as updated under subsection (1)(a));(b) set out the progress that has been made in revoking and reforming retained EU law during the reporting period to which the report relates;(c) set out His Majesty’s Government’s plans to revoke and reform retained EU law in subsequent reporting periods.(3) The reporting periods are—(a) the period beginning with the day on which this Act is passed and ending with 23 December 2023; (b) the period of 12 months beginning with 24 December 2023;(c) the period of 12 months beginning with 24 December 2024;(d) the period of 6 months beginning with 24 December 2025.(4) If the Secretary of State does not meet the requirements in subsection (1) in relation to a reporting period, the Secretary of State must—(a) explain why in a statement made in writing, and(b) publish the statement and lay it before Parliament.(5) In this section—“retained EU law dashboard” means the database on retained EU law maintained and made publicly available by the Secretary of State;“revoke” has the same meaning as in section 14.(6) In subsection (2), “reform” includes “replace”.(7) In relation to the report under subsection (1)(b) in respect of the period ending with 23 June 2026, ignore subsection (2)(c).”Member's explanatory statement

This new Clause requires the Secretary of State to update the retained EU law dashboard and report on the revocation and reform of retained EU law in periods up to 23 June 2026.

My Lords, Amendment 1 introduces a new clause after Clause 17. Amendments 2 and 3 in this group are consequential.

I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Callanan for adding his name to the amendments and I am even more grateful to my noble friend’s officials, who have produced these amendments at great speed in response to the less elegant amendment which I moved on Report last week. It is a great privilege to be given the opportunity to table these amendments in my name.

The underlying concept behind these amendments is transparency about the progress that the Government are making in dealing with retained EU law. This Bill now revokes only a portion of that law, but it will remain an important task for the Government to decide what to do with the rest of the laws on our statute book and ensure that they support the needs of the UK economy and our citizens. It represents a once in a generation opportunity to achieve significant regulatory reform.

Amendment 1 builds on the retained EU law dashboard, which pulls together all retained EU law and shows progress in reforming that law. While some have criticised the dashboard because the number of items of retained EU law continues to increase, the core information that it contains, including visual representation of progress, has been a great achievement. Subsection (1) of the proposed new clause places an obligation on the Secretary of State to update the dashboard. It also requires the Secretary of State to publish and lay before Parliament reports on the revocation and reform of EU law.

These reports will do three things: they will summarise the dashboard; they will set out progress that has been made in revoking and reforming retained EU law; and, importantly, they will set out the Government’s plans for revocation or reform. Information on the Government’s plans does not currently get reported in a comprehensive way, and so this should be a valuable data source both for parliamentarians and for those outside Parliament. The first report will be for the period up to 23 December this year, and there will be three more reports, the first two covering the years to 23 December 2024 and 23 December 2025 and a final one for the six months until 23 June 2026. The end date is, of course, the 10th anniversary of the great referendum vote and coincides with the final expiry of the powers in this Bill to reinstate or revoke EU law.

I know that noble Lords support effective accountability of the Executive to Parliament, and I believe that this new clause will improve Parliament’s ability to oversee how well the Government are delivering on their Brexit promises. I very much hope that by the time of the final report, 23 June 2026, if not earlier, the Government will have demonstrated that all retained EU law has been dealt with, whether by a positive decision to keep it intact or by revocation or reform. Last week the noble Baroness, Lady Chapman, and the noble Lord, Lord Fox, were less than enthusiastic about my amendment on Report. It is perhaps wishful thinking to think that this new and improved version will result in a change of heart, but none the less I commend it to them. I beg to move.

My Lords, this amendment, which I fully understand, places a lot of emphasis on the capacity of the retained EU dashboard, but there are some important deficiencies in its capacity, the most important of which is that it does not contain any post-devolution legislation. That can be demonstrated by looking at the schedule that has just been introduced into the Bill. There is not a single item of post-devolution material on it.

When the Common Frameworks Scrutiny Committee, of which I am a member, invited some officials who work on the dashboard to address us and explain how it works, we asked them whether there was any post-devolution retained EU law on the dashboard. They told us that there was not, that devolution material was not there. We asked whether it was the intention that it should include post-devolution material and they said that it was not and that it was not designed to do that.

So there is a question I would like to ask, and I think it is fair to ask the Minister, about what the position truly is on this. I do not think he has ever fully acknowledged, at least in this Chamber, the fact that the dashboard does not contain post-devolution material at all. Is it intended that the dashboard should be updated, as is the obligation in the amendment, to include post-devolution material? If so, when will that be done and is it clear that the devolved Administrations are able to do that in time to meet the first deadline, which is the end of this year? They have a great deal to do already with the amount of work which is required of them by the Bill, and to have to work on updating the dashboard as well might be beyond their resources. This is a very important issue. I am not trying to undermine the amendment, but I want to understand its capacity to do what the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, told us it is intended to do.

I re-echo and endorse entirely the comments of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope. I also echo the regrets that the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly have withheld their consent. Quite a broad area of retained EU law will remain by default on the statute books, which I welcome. However, following the comments of my right honourable friend the Environment Secretary over the weekend—particularly those relating to retained EU law and the wine sector—there remains a huge lack of clarity which, regrettably, the amendments in the name of my noble friend Lady Noakes and my noble friend the Minister do not address.

The fact that Defra will be able to revoke and amend large swathes of retained EU law—probably the bulk of outstanding retained EU law, as this relates to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs—poses great uncertainty for practitioners as well as the businesses that they are trying to advise. So I echo the question put by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, which I too have asked on a number of occasions, as to the up-to-dateness and comprehensiveness—particularly as regards devolved legislation—of the dashboard. Also, regarding the legal status of the dashboard, is it just a signpost or does it have greater significance than that?

I am sure that my noble friend will share my concern as a Minister in his department that there is, regrettably, a great lack of clarity for practitioners and business going forward as the Bill leaves the House today.

The noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, introduced Amendment 1 by saying that it is designed to promote transparency and accountability. Who could possibly disagree with those objectives? They are vital to this Bill. It seems to me that subsection (1) is modest in its requirements: the updating of the dashboard and the publication of a report. My question to the noble Baroness and, indeed, the Minister is: why, then, is it thought necessary to include in Amendment 1 subsection (4), which provides that:

“If the Secretary of State does not meet the requirements”—

that is the basic requirements—in subsection (1), then certain consequences follow?

It is, I would suggest, very unusual to include in an important provision of a Bill a set of obligations on Ministers but then recognise in another clause of the same provision that they may well not satisfy the important requirements that the noble Baroness rightly suggests should be imposed on them. Should we understand from this that the Minister contemplates that there is a real possibility that Ministers do not intend to comply with the very obligations that this amendment imposes? If they are going to comply with these obligations, surely we do not need subsection (4).

My Lords, I am afraid that a few amendments will not improve this Bill. It is a disastrous Bill, and not because of the laws that are being taken out this time—those few hundred do not seem significant. The big problem is the power grab by Ministers; that is really quite unnerving. I wonder what will happen when the Labour Party forms a Government. Will the Conservative Opposition go into trauma every time a Minister decides something?

When I voted for Brexit and taking back control, I did not mean taking back control for a small number of Ministers, who may or may not have their own ideas of what democracy is or what is appropriate for the people of Britain. The fact is that this is a bad Bill. It gives powers to Ministers that they ought never to have, and now, of course, it raises problems with the devolved authorities.

My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, on persuading the Minister—though I am not sure how much persuasion was required—to incorporate the spirit of her amendment, and I congratulate the Minister on making it more elegant. The noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, has invited me to like it; I will do my best, but I do not think I will manage that.

The most interesting thing about the amendment, in my view, is not what happens to the list but what is on the list. The nature of the Bill has been turned on its head. At one point, being on the list was essential to try to avoid being revoked. Now, being on the list makes a law a target to be revoked. So we are in a world that has revolved 180 degrees; we have passed through the looking-glass.

I have two questions for the Minister, and I ask the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, to excuse me but I suspect it is the Minister who can answer them. First, to pick up on the point made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, which I was also going to make, is it the Minister’s understanding that no post-devolution legislation will now get put on to the list? We do not have legislative consent from the devolved authorities. They are apparently the authorities that would put post-devolution legislation on the list—if they had access to the database, although there is some question over whether they do. Can we assume that there will be no post-devolution legislation on the list?

Secondly, when will the list be fixed for these purposes? Is work still under way in all the departments of government in order to add new things to the dashboard, or is that it?

My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, commented that we were rather less than enthusiastic when we discussed this issue last week. I can see why we have got to the position where this amendment has been agreed between the noble Baroness and the Government, and I am very happy for her that she feels satisfied with the movement that the Government have made in getting here. I am afraid that the concerns we have had throughout this process are a long way from being satisfied by the amendment. We do not oppose it particularly, but we are not particularly in favour of it. It does not really do all that much to the substance of what we have been disagreeing about during the passage of the Bill. However, if it helps with some internal political management on the government Benches, that is something that the Minister is entitled to attempt to do.

Well, my Lords, if the Opposition are not enthusiastic about my noble friend’s amendment, I am.

Before I address the amendment, I shall deal with some of the points that Members have raised. First, on the point made by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, the noble Lord, Lord Fox, and my noble friend Lady McIntosh about post-devolution rule, that is rule for the devolved Administrations. The reality is that they have not wanted to add anything to the dashboard, and of course we are in no position—and do not wish to force them—to do so. If they wish to add some of their rule to the dashboard then they can, but for now it is just rule made by Her Majesty’s Government. It of course contains UK government legislation that has been made post devolution—just not the rule made by the devolved Administrations.

To answer my noble friend Lady McIntosh’s point, the dashboard has no legal status as such; it is just a list of retained EU law.

Moving on to the main points about my noble friend Lady Noakes’s amendment, the Government have already reformed or revoked over 1,000 pieces of retained EU law, but that is not the limit of our ambition. Departments will continue to review the rule that is not already revoked, reformed or planned for revocation this year in order to identify further opportunities for reform, and we are committed to reducing the burdens on businesses and unlocking the economic growth that will flow from that. As a down payment on our commitment to deliver meaningful reform, the 10 May policy paper Smarter Regulation to Grow the Economy set out our intention to reform regulations and remove burdens on businesses.

We announced changes that will reduce disproportionate EU-derived reporting requirements and could save businesses around £1billion a year. This will just be the first in a series of announcements that the Government will be making in the coming months on reforming regulation in order to drive growth. In addition to the revocation schedule, the powers in the Bill will still enable us to revoke, replace or reform any outdated EU laws that remain on our statute book right through until 2026. This new approach will provide the space for longer-term and more ambitious reforms and the Government intend to do just that. It will also mean that fewer statutory instruments will be required to preserve EU laws that are deemed appropriate or necessary to maintain.

The Brexit Opportunities Unit, spearheaded by the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, has been pivotal in driving the development and delivery of the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Bill and the wider associated retained EU law reform programme. These efforts are being supported by specialist legal expertise from outside government. Parliament will be able to easily monitor government progress on REUL reform, as we update the dashboard every quarter. That answers the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Fox: we will continue to update the dashboard.

Did I understand the Minister correctly? Has he just boasted that there will be less parliamentary scrutiny and that we can look it up online?

You can look up progress online, but of course there will be parliamentary scrutiny. If we propose to make any changes to retained EU law using the powers in the Bill, they will come to Parliament in the normal process of the examination of secondary legislation.

The Brexit Opportunities Unit drove the aforementioned 10 May regulatory reform announcement, setting out a long-term plan to reform UK regulation over the coming months. Furthermore, we have committed to future announcements on how we will reform regulations to reduce the cost of living, deliver choice to consumers, establish trailblazing regulation to catalyse innovation and make the UK a science superpower, and remove obstacles to building world-class infrastructure.

However, it is crucial that Parliament and the public are able to hold the Government’s feet to the fire and ensure that our momentum continues with regard to the retained EU law reform programme. I am therefore delighted to support Amendments 1, 2 and 3, tabled by my noble friend Lady Noakes, to which I have added my name. These amendments insert a new clause into the Bill requiring the Secretary of State to update the retained EU law dashboard and to report on the revocation and reform of retained EU law in periods up to 23 June 2026, at which point, of course, the main powers in the Bill will sunset, and the vast majority of retained EU law reform will have been completed. The reports will summarise the REUL dashboard data, provide an update on whether and how REUL on the dashboard has been revoked and reformed, and detail future plans for further revocation and reform.

I thank in particular my noble friend Lady Noakes for her collegiate engagement in preparing the amendments that she has tabled today. I also extend my thanks to my noble friends Lord Frost, Lord Jackson and Lady Lawlor for their valuable engagement on this matter. These amendments will hold the Government to account in providing the additional transparency both Parliament and the public need to scrutinise the Government’s progress and future plans on retained EU law reform. I therefore hope the House will join me in supporting these amendments.

I am grateful to the Minister for giving way. He has just told us that these amendments will hold Parliament to account. If Parliament is not satisfied with the account it is given under these amendments, what advice would he give to Parliament as to how Ministers can be prevented from carrying out what they have tried to do?

Well, they will hold the Government to account. Of course, Parliament is able to hold the Government to account in many different ways, but particularly, with the reform programme, there would be an extensive programme of statutory instruments. Parliament would be able to debate and accept those instruments or not, as it usually does.

My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have spoken in this debate. I thank my noble friend Lord Callanan in particular for answering the points raised on devolution. I do not think he answered the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, on subsection (4), which is a useful addition because it means that if a report is not laid, we get another opportunity to be told that it has not been laid, and thereby to trigger any accountability mechanisms. I regard it as an important additional subsection, and I shall certainly be using it as a precedent in amendments to other Bills in future.

Amendment 1 agreed.

Clause 22: Commencement, transitional and savings

Amendment 2

Moved by

2: Clause 22, page 24, line 28, leave out “17” and insert “(Retained EU law dashboard and report)”

Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential upon Baroness Noakes’ new Clause.

Amendment 2 agreed.

Schedule 2: “Assimilated law”: consequential amendments

Amendment 3

Moved by

3: Schedule 2, page 99, line 31, at end insert—

“(3A) In section (Retained EU law dashboard and report) (retained EU law dashboard and report), for “retained EU” (in each place it appears, including the heading) substitute “assimilated”.”Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment is consequential upon Baroness Noakes’ new Clause.

Amendment 3 agreed.


Moved by

My Lords, this Bill is crucial in ensuring, as I said earlier, that we can seize the regulatory reform opportunities of Brexit. It is the next step in reasserting the sovereignty of Parliament and untangling the United Kingdom from nearly 50 years of EU membership. Through the Bill we will improve legal certainty, removing confusion from our statute book where EU principles of interpretation overlap with those of UK domestic principles. This fulfils an important constitutional objective: that our law is clear and accessible, so that citizens can understand it and regulate their conduct accordingly.

There is a long list of people whom I wish to thank for their help on the Bill. Let me start with my noble friend Lady Bloomfield of Hinton Waldrist. Sadly, my noble friend is leaving the Front Bench and she will be missed by us all. My chances of getting to the Chamber on time are greatly reduced without the hurry-up texts from my noble friend Lady Bloomfield, who has kept me right many times in this Chamber and when we have debated statutory instruments in the Grand Committee. I am hugely grateful for all the help and support that she has given to me; I am sure other members of the Front Bench feel the same. She will be a great loss to the Government.

Let me also thank my noble friends Lady Neville-Rolfe and Lord Benyon, and my noble and learned friend Lord Bellamy, for their support during the Bill’s passage. I fear I would have continuously sat on this Bench for a great many days in addition to those when I did without their help and support, which has been greatly appreciated.

Let me also give my thanks to the Bill team. All the Bill teams I have worked with have worked extremely well and tirelessly, but I can tell the House that this Bill team in particular has gone above and beyond the call of duty. I said this when there were some frankly ill-considered remarks about the Civil Service while we were on Report, but many of them really did work all weekend to get the explainer out for the benefit of noble Lords when we were discussing the schedule. Their assistance has been great and their legal advice superb. If there were legal errors in anything that I said, I can assure noble Lords that it was not their fault. The fault was entirely mine, as they did a great job in trying to explain some of these complicated concepts.

I also thank members of the Opposition, including the noble Baroness, Lady Chapman, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, my noble friend Lord Hodgson—who is of course not a member of the Opposition but is on our own Benches and played a big role in the Bill—and the noble Lord, Lord Fox, among many others who contributed to its passage. We did not always agree on many parts of it, of course; I apologise if, from my point of view, I sometimes expressed a little bit of irritation with some of the speeches that were made. Nevertheless, I do accept that it is the job of the House to scrutinise the Government, to look at our legislation closely and to propose amendments. If we could perhaps have a bit more constructive opposition sometimes, I would appreciate it.

Nevertheless, the contributions are appreciated.

The Government have of course sought to address the concerns raised, notably around the sunset and courts provisions. We listened to the points made in the House and addressed those concerns via the amendments that we brought forward on Report. I hope that the House recognises how significant a move this was from the Government and takes that movement in the spirit in which it was intended. We really did try to alter the Bill to take account of many of the concerns that were addressed.

The House has also made its views known on some other areas of the Bill on which the Government do not agree, including the reform and repeal powers we believe are crucial to the ambitions we have in this space. Our work in producing the retained EU law dashboard highlighted that there are many defunct laws on our statute book relating to activities that the UK does not conduct, such as my famous example of regulating reindeer herdsmen in Lapland. Now that we have taken back control of our statute book, it is appropriate to update it by amending, repealing or replacing REUL that is no longer fit for the UK.

I do not think there is much argument on all sides of the House about the list of measures we have produced that deserve to be repealed. This will allow us to create new pro-growth, high-standard regulatory frameworks that give businesses the opportunities and confidence to innovate, invest and ultimately to create jobs. This Bill delivers, in addition to providing clarity and certainty. It provides the powers for the Government to make legislative changes that will benefit all of us in the United Kingdom. With that, I beg to move that the Bill do now pass.

My Lords, I thank the Minister for his speech. His answer to the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Carlile, indicates why what I will call the Hope-Hamilton amendments are so important. I hope it is clear to the Minister that your Lordships’ House considers these to be very important and that they should be retained rather than reversed when they head to the other place.

Any Commons reversal of Amendment 48 will be seen as a show of intention by the Conservative Party on environmental legislation. Again, it would not be wise, given the very good reassurance we have had from the noble Lords, Lord Benyon and Lord Callanan, on retaining that legislation. Pushing out Amendment 48 would be moving things in the opposite direction.

Overall, the work of this House has achieved a major change and a U-turn. As I said before, it has achieved a reverse in the polarity of this Bill, and noble Lords should be very proud of that. It has been a fraught debate at times. I owe a mea culpa to the noble Baroness, Lady Fox. In the hubbub I misrepresented her use of the term “blob”, and I am happy to put the record straight—so apologies there. During that debate there was also a to and fro, which was very important. The Minister is right to say that that is the role of this House.

I thank the Ministers—the noble Baronesses, Lady Bloomfield and Lady Neville-Rolfe, and the noble Lords, Lord Benyon and Lord Bellamy—for their hard work in trying to bring us along; they have not often or always succeeded, of course. The Bill team, when we have met, have always been very helpful and courteous; they are a credit to their service. I hope that, for those of the team who want to visit the Cheshire salt mines, I have in some way helped them head that direction.

His Majesty’s Opposition have been a pleasure to work with: I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Chapman, the noble Lord, Lord Collins, and of course the team in their Whips’ Office. Many Cross-Benchers and other noble Lords across the House have participated fully. It would be difficult to mention them all, but for his virtuoso display during Report, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, deserves the full gratitude of your Lordships’ House.

Quite a few Liberal Democrats have participated in the Bill, not least those who were mobilised over the weekend to try to review 600 laws and work out what they did. I am not going to name them all, but I thank them for their support. I will name my noble friend Lady Ludford, who unfortunately cannot be here; she has been able company for me on the Front Bench. Finally, I thank Elizabeth Plummer in our Whips’ Office, whose grasp of this Bill has been beyond compare.

My Lords, we have never argued with the Government’s right to want to find a way to assimilate fully some EU-derived pieces of legislation and to revoke or restate others. We have never had cause to fall out over the Government’s stated aims, but the Bill has been the definition of using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. I am quite sure that Ministers regret having attempted to undertake this task in this particular way. I am also very sure that the Minister is glad to see the back of the Bill, having sat through hour upon hour of deliberation in this place.

The Bill was designed to appeal to a group of people with a certain perspective, and as we have said repeatedly—I say it again—that is not the right way to initiate legislation; the Government have learned that lesson very publicly. It is slightly surprising to hear the Government say that they wish the opposition to the Bill had been more constructive, given that we were pleased to see the Government accept the substance, if not the letter, of our amendment on the sunset, which we tabled at the beginning of Committee. The Government moved substantially on that issue; we recognise and welcome that, and we give them credit for it.

We thank all noble lords who have contributed to our deliberations on the Bill. The noble Lords, Lord Hamilton and Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, and, in particular, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, deserve our thanks and recognition for the work they have done to improve parliamentary scrutiny and oversight. These amendments are vital to the Bill, and I hope the Government welcome them and will support them in the other place. I do not believe that anyone thinks the new amendments tabled today are adequate responses to the concerns we have raised, so we hope that our concerns are protected as the Bill proceeds.

Having said that, I very much thank the Minister for his constant patience, charm and warmth across the Dispatch Box—it is never in doubt—and I look forward to many such exchanges in the future. I also acknowledge the sterling work the noble Baroness, Lady Bloomfield, has done throughout the passage of the Bill. I echo what the Minister said about wishing her well in the coming months; I hope she has a wonderful summer. We value very much the work she has undertaken on the Bill. I also thank the noble Baroness, Lady Neville-Rolfe, the noble Lord, Lord Benyon, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Bellamy, who were all corralled in as part of the support act on the Bill; they all did their best, did they not?

On these Benches, I especially thank my noble friend Lord Collins, who has been an absolute star; he has supported everything we have tried to do on these Benches throughout and has made some fantastic contributions. I also thank my noble friend Lady Hayman, who brought her experience and expertise on the environment to our deliberations; we have benefited hugely from her contributions.

I also thank the Opposition Bill team. Milton Brown, Tom Raines and Dan Stevens provided expert advice and have been extremely helpful in helping us prepare amendments. I thank both the Government Whips’ Office and my own Whips’ Office.

We are glad that the Bill leaves this place in slightly better shape than when it arrived. We hope the Government are able to receive in good grace the amendments we have made and will retain them, and that we do not need to consider the Bill further.

Bill passed and returned to the Commons with amendments.