Since the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill returned to the Commons last week for its committee stage reading, I have received over 400 emails from constituents asking me to support various new clauses and amendments. As a whip I am not allowed to add my name to amendments, but I thought it would be helpful to summarise everything we have voted on so far.
Monday 14th November
The first day of debate focused on defining ‘Exit Day’ and on transitional arrangements.
· Amendment 79 (tabled by Plaid Cymru and the SNP) – this amendment would have required consent resolutions to be passed by the Welsh Assembly, Scottish Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly before the Act could come into force.
· NC14 (tabled by Chris Leslie - Labour) – this clause would have required the Government to publish a report explaining how transitional arrangements “shall operate.”
· Amendment 137 (tabled by Joanna Cherry – SNP) – this amendment would have placed a general duty on UK courts to have “due regard” for decisions by the European Court of Justice.
· Amendment 278 (tabled by Labour) – this amendment also related to the role of the ECJ and would have allowed for the ECJ to have a continuing role through any transitional period.
Labour abstained on Amendment 79 but supported all of the others. All were defeated by the Government.
Tuesday 15th November
This day focused on the protection of EU-derived rights, including workplace rights, consumer rights and environmental standards.
· NC25 and NC58 (tabled by Labour) – these clauses would have addressed concerns about the loss of EU-derived workplace rights, consumer standards and environmental protections by ensuring that they could only be altered via primary legislation.
· NC30 (tabled by Caroline Lucas - Green) – this clause would have retained the rights and obligations contained in Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, which recognises animals as ‘sentient beings’ and requires Member States to “pay full regard to the welfare requirements of animals” when formulating and implementing EU policy. Labour has tabled a further amendment on this (Amendment 350) but it cannot be voted on until Day 6.
· NC67 (tabled by Labour) – this clause would have ensured that the EU’s environmental principles continued to be recognised and applied after exit day.
Labour supported all of these amendments but were all were defeated by the Government.
Tuesday 21st November
This day covered the parts of EU law the Government does not wish to apply in the UK immediately after we leave the EU (i.e. the exceptions to the general rule that all EU law will be transposed into UK law).
· NC79 (tabled by Ellie Reeves - Labour) – this new clause would have required the Government to report to Parliament on changes in EU/EEA provisions that might have amended gender equality laws post Exit Day.
· NC46 (tabled by Labour) – this new clause would have allowed the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights to continue to apply after Exit Day.
· Amendment 336 (tabled by Labour) – this amendment would have retained the right of legal action to be taken on the basis that legislation or Government actions violates one or more of the General Principles of EU law.
· Amendment 139 (tabled by Mary Creagh - Labour) – this amendment would restore the right to sue for damages where the state fails to transpose an EU directive effectively under certain conditions (the Francovich principle of state liability) for breaches which took place before Exit Day.
Labour supported all of these amendments but they were defeated by the Government.
There will now be a break while we debate the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget. We expect the EU (Withdrawal) Bill to return to the House in the week commencing 4th December and are due to spend a further five days in total debating it between now and Christmas.
Note: Sometimes you might notice that my name does not appear in the list of Labour MPs who voted on particular amendment. This is usually because I have acted as a teller so my name is listed separately.