Sunday, 2 October 2016

A Great Repeal Bill? A note just before the Conservative Party Conference.

The Conservative Party Conference is to be held in Birmingham from Sunday 2nd October to Wednesday 5th.  As usual, there will be "keynote speeches" by the Prime Minister and other senior Ministers - see the Conservative Party Conference Agenda.

Two items in the agenda struck me as being potentially in conflict.  Under the heading "Global Britain: Making a success of Brexit" there will be speeches by the Prime Minister and three speeches by the Secretaries of State for Exiting the EU (David Davis MP), for International Development (Priti Patel MP) and for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Boris Johnson MP).  Interestingly, the Secretary of State for International Trade (Liam Fox MP) gets a slot on Monday afternoon.

On Wednesday
there is 30 minute session headed "Celebrating the Union" with four speakers : Leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the National Assembly for Wales (Andrew RT Davies AM); Secretary of State for Wales (Alun Cairns MP); Secretary of State for Scotland (David Mundell MP) and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (James Brokenshire MP).

It is expected that the Prime Minister will outline to the conference how the government intends to achieve repeal of the European Communities Act 1972.  Some kind of "Giant Repeal Bill" seems likely.  It would come into legal force on the day Brexit takes place and would, at least in the first instance, retain as part of national law those laws which have their origin in the EU Treaties, Regulations and Directives.  The Repeal Bill would almost certainly contain extensive powers for Ministers to make secondary legislation so that, after Brexit, changes can be more easily made and perhaps made with the usual perfunctory parliamentary scrutiny normally attaching to secondary legislation.  (Previous Post - Brexit: European Communities Act 1972 - 24th August 2016).  Naturally, the Bill would also have to deal with the actual repeal of the European Communities Act 1972 and other matters such as references from UK courts to the Court of Justice of the EU.  The Bill will doubtless contain a Commencement Provision so that most of the Bill will only come into force at the moment Brexit takes place.  It is interesting to speculate whether such a Bill would pass the House of Commons given its present political make up.  The Bill is likely to be formally announced to Parliament as part of the Queen's Speech in May 2017.

The court actions relating to Article 50 appear to be unaffected and the important Prerogative or Parliament question will have to be resolved since government will wish to have the ability to trigger Article 50 at a time of its choosing - e.g. in the earlier part of 2017. 

The 23rd June referendum result was in answer to a question relating to the UK as a whole - "Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?"  The electorate as a whole voted that the UK should leave but Scotland and Northern Ireland both voted to remain.  It is far from clear how this deep division will be addressed.  Whether the Celebrating the Union speeches will reveal anything remains to be seen.

1 comment:

  1. The votes of the by-far-larger electorate of England will always trump those of Scotland, and Northern Ireland (the other countries in the Union of Nations) and thus snookering democracy. Not cricket,but England waving the rules as it waives the rules.
    The Colonial Secretary Mundell speaking for Scotland is a travesty.