December 4th (Day 4)
Day 4 of the committee stage of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill focused on Clause 11 of the bill, which sets out restrictions on what the devolved legislatures can and cannot legislate on after the UK leaves the EU.
Labour has repeatedly emphasised that, as drafted, the Bill would side-line the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, threaten the devolution settlement and unnecessarily hoard powers in Whitehall.
On Monday we voted on Amendment 42 (tabled by Labour) which would have removed the proposed restrictions on the ability of devolved Parliaments to legislate in a way which contradicts retained EU law.
We also voted on Amendment 72 (tabled by the SNP) which would have required the consent of the relevant devolved legislatures before the restriction in Clause 11 came into force. Labour supported this amendment.
Unfortunately both of these amendments were defeated by the Government.
December 6th (Day 5)
Day 5 was split into two sections. The first focused on Northern Ireland and the remaining devolution issues in the bill. The second focused on financial matters arising from the bill, including the divorce payment that is being negotiated as part of the Article 50 process.
In the first part of the debate, Labour tabled amendments which would have protected the Good Friday Agreement after the UK leaves the EU. The Government rejected all of the tabled amendments on the basis that corrections to EU laws need to be co-ordinated by the UK Government to ensure continuity. The minister responding did, however, state that he thought an agreement with the devolved administrations would be reached soon.
In the second half, we tabled amendments calling for transparency over the settlement. New clause 80 called for any financial settled to be assessed by the Office for Budget Responsibility and the National Audit Office and for the House of Commons to have the chance to scrutinise and vote on it.
Amendment 339 would have prevented tax or fee raising powers from being established via tertiary legislation (i.e. when Parliament confers the power on a public authority to legislate).
Both of these were put to the vote but the Government defeated them with the support of the DUP. The fight continues.
Further Information on the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill can be found here.