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Great Repeal Bill

Volume 623: debated on Thursday 16 March 2017

1. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union on the requirement for legislative consent motions for the proposed great repeal Bill. (909271)

I have regular discussions with ministerial colleagues, including with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, on various issues of importance to the Government. The Government will publish the great repeal Bill in due course, and the content of the Bill will determine the process to take it forward.

Last month, the Secretary of State for Scotland confirmed that a legislative consent motion would be required from the Scottish Parliament for the great repeal Bill, but in his answer just now the Attorney General stopped well short of that. If the UK Government’s position is the same as the Secretary of State for Scotland’s, will a legislative consent motion be required?

The hon. Lady tempts me to explore what will be in the great repeal Bill. I am not going to do that, but she knows, and I am sure her colleagues know, that if the Bill affects the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament or the executive competence of the Scottish Government, there will need to be a legislative consent motion.

Does my right hon. and learned Friend share my concern that people might be slightly misled by our referring to the proposed Bill as the great repeal Bill? Although it will repeal the European Communities Act 1972, it is actually the great continuity Bill, because its other purpose is to transfer the body of EU law into UK law.

My hon. Friend makes a fair point. He is right to say that this Bill will repeal the 1972 Act, and that is a significant step in this country’s history, but it will also, as he says, make sure that we do not have huge amounts of disruptive change for business, industry and individuals, and we will try to make sure that there is as much continuity on the day after departure as there was on the day before departure, where that is feasible.

Does the Attorney General envisage that there will be consent motions under EVEL provisions in respect of any of the potential clauses in the great repeal Bill?

Again, we shall have to wait and see the content of the Bill, but it is unlikely—given what is likely to be in the Bill, and given the purpose of the Bill—that we will be looking at very many areas, if any at all, that do not affect the entire United Kingdom.

Can the Attorney General clarify whether any of the devolved Administrations effectively have a legal veto over our decision to leave the European Union?

I must admit to being confused by the Attorney General’s answers. Clearly, the great repeal Bill, as indicated by the Supreme Court, will affect devolved competences. The Secretary of State for Scotland has said an LCM is required. Why are the Government hesitant? Can the Attorney General not be clear? Will an LCM be required for the great repeal Bill, because it affects devolved competences?

The Supreme Court was not deciding on this Bill; it was deciding on a Bill that the Government have now passed, and which I hope will receive Royal Assent very shortly. However, in relation to the contents of this Bill, whatever it ends up being called, the hon. Gentleman will have to be patient and wait until we see it. As I set out to his colleagues, there is a clear set of expectations as to when LCMs will be required, and the Government will honour those expectations.