On 20 October 2016 the UK House of Lords EU Committee (the “EU Committee“) published its fourth report on the structures, procedures, and resources that will be required if the UK Parliament is to scrutinise the Brexit process (“Parliamentary Scrutiny Report“).
The Parliamentary Scrutiny Report follows the EU Committee’s earlier report, published on 22 July 2016 (see our previous Brexit Blog post here). The previous report examined the importance of Parliament’s role during the negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and concluded that “Parliament’s scrutiny of the withdrawal negotiations is vital to ensure an ‘audit trail’ for future generations.”
The Parliamentary Scrutiny Report sets out the EU Committee’s conclusions and recommendations on the UK Parliament’s role in the Brexit negotiations and urges that Parliament should be actively involved in scrutinising the forthcoming negotiations on Brexit as they happen – rather than after decisions have been taken, as proposed by the UK Government.
Key conclusions include:
- Although it is not for Parliament to manage the negotiations, it must be able to monitor them actively, and make its views known in a timely manner so that the government could consider those views and decide whether or not to act on them.
- Given that Parliament will be required to approve and ultimately implement any agreement that emerges from the Brexit negotiations, both Houses should be given an opportunity to debate and approve the negotiating guidelines, at least in outline.
- Any treaties arising out of the Brexit negotiations will engage the provisions in Part 2 of the Constitutional Reform Act 2010 (meaning that Parliament will have the opportunity to pass resolutions that the treaties should not be ratified). The Government should therefore publish comprehensive explanatory material to inform public and parliamentary debate, and give select committees scrutinising Brexit in both Houses an opportunity to set out their views before any debates and votes take place.
- The Government should publish an outline strategy for the post-withdrawal review of EU law as soon as possible. This will enable both the House of Commons and the House of Lords to consider how they will deliver appropriate parliamentary scrutiny.
The full Parliamentary Scrutiny Report can be found here.
The evidence considered prior to producing the Parliamentary Scrutiny Report can be found here.