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International Law: Government Compliance

Volume 683: debated on Thursday 5 November 2020

What assessment she has made of the effectiveness of her Department in ensuring Government legislation complies with international law. (908174)

I work frequently with Departments on legislation, including on issues that relate to compliance with international law. The UK is committed to the rules-based international system. We were the architects of the post-war international legal order, including the UN Charter, NATO, and the European convention on human rights—a history of which I am very proud. The principle of discharging our treaty obligations in good faith is, and will remain, the key principle in forming the UK’s approach to international relations.

The United Kingdom Internal Market Bill breaks international law by reneging on the EU withdrawal agreement. The Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Bill contravenes the right to life and the prohibition of torture under international conventions. The Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill means the UK will be unable to prosecute war crimes after five years, so we will end up at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The Attorney General’s job is to ensure that we deliver the rule of law nationally and internationally. She has failed in her duty. Will she now resign?

The hon. Gentleman raises some interesting points, but it seems that he has missed the fundamental principle underlying our constitution and the UK’s relationship with international law. It is not right to say that our constitution requires a blind and automatic adherence to international law. Domestic law is on a different plane from international law. It is entirely proper and constitutional, and in line with the principle of parliamentary sovereignty, that the Queen in Parliament may legislate in a manner inconsistent with international law. That is an age-old principle underpinning our constitution.

That is the end of questions. In order to allow the safe exit of hon. Members participating in this item of business and the safe arrival of those participating in the next, I am suspending the House for three minutes.

Sitting suspended.