Briefing: Amending the EU (Withdrawal) Bill in the House of Commons

The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill is a key piece of legislation that will repeal the European Communities Act 1972, transpose existing EU rules into UK law, and implement the withdrawal deal. Unlock Democracy recognises the complex challenge the government is seeking to solve, and the enormity of the task at hand.

However, the bill as drafted is fatally flawed and requires substantial amendment, or else there is a very serious risk that core principles underpinning the UK’s democracy will be undermined. This briefing outlines key concerns with the bill and highlights amendments that would go some way to correcting a fundamentally flawed piece of legislation.

Committee Stage is scheduled to start on Tuesday 14th November. Unlock Democracy is calling on MPs to support amendments in the following areas:

  • Parliamentary sovereignty - It should be Parliament, not the government, that is the sovereign law-making body, with powers over policy changes and a vote on the final deal.

    • The powers proposed by the government are too broad and must be limited

    • Parliament must be guaranteed in law a vote on the withdrawal agreement

  • Parliamentary scrutiny and democratic accountability - Parliament should be able to robustly scrutinise delegated legislation proposed by ministers. A new scrutiny system for delegated legislation is urgently needed to facilitate this.

  • The preservation and parity of existing rights, standards, and institutions - ministers should not be granted powers to make changes to rights and standards without Parliament having a say.

  • Respect for the devolution settlements - as drafted the bill threatens to undermine hard won devolution settlements by centralising power in Westminster and undermining the devolved legislatures’ existing rights to legislate over competence areas.