The Lords return after their Easter Recess, and one can only hope that they’re well rested, because this week sees the debate on the EU Withdrawal Bill become properly serious, with Day 1 of the Report Stage scheduled for Wednesday.
And the battle will be joined immediately, with the very first amendment sponsored by four peers from each of the main groups in the Lords, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard (Crossbenchers), Lord Patten of Barnes (Chris, not John, from the Conservatives), Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town (Labour) and our own Sarah Ludford.
The amendment is quite straightforward;
Page 1, line 2, at end insert—
“(1) Subsection(2) applies if, and only if, the condition in subsection (3) is met.”
Page 1, line 3, at end insert—
“(3) The condition in this subsection is that, by 31 October 2018, a Minister of the Crown has laid before both Houses of Parliament a statement outlining the steps taken in negotiations under Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union to negotiate, as part of the framework for the United Kingdom’s future relationship with the European Union, an arrangement which enables the United Kingdom to continue participating in a customs union with the European Union.”
No messing about there, then. And it doesn’t get an easier for Lord Callanan, the Conservative Minister (and a former MEP), who will face the music on behalf of the Government.
Julie Smith has put her name to an amendment, with Baroness McIntosh of Pickering (the former Conservative MP for Vale of York), which, if passed, requires the Government to respect all EU Directives adopted but not implemented before exit day, so that they remain binding in domestic law, as if the United Kingdom had not left the EU.
For those out there who have their suspicions as to the urgency of those seeking Brexit, your attention is drawn to the penultimate sub-clause of the amendment;
(x) Tax Avoidance Directive (2016/1164);
I’m not saying anything..
Otherwise, and there’s no guarantee that we’ll get this far, Judith Jolly has put her name to an amendment seeking to ensure a high level of public health protection, and the Labour and Liberal Democrat front benches have agreed the following amendment;
Enhanced protection for certain areas of EU law
“(1) Following the day on which this Act is passed, a Minister of the Crown may not amend, repeal or revoke retained EU law relating to –
(a) employment entitlements, rights and protections,
(b) equality entitlements, rights and protections,
(c) health and safety entitlements, rights and protections,
(d) consumer standards, or
(e) environmental standards and protections,
except by primary legislation, or by subordinate legislation made under any Act of Parliament insofar as this subordinate legislation meets the requirements in subsections (2) to (5).
And to come, amendments seeking to retain the benefits of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, environmental protections…
I’ll be attempting to keep up with all of this, but here’s a current list of amendments tabled at Report Stage which may well be voted upon in the absence of Government concessions.
And, if anyone from the Parliamentary Party in the Lords wants to let us have their thoughts, they’re more than welcome…
* Mark Valladares is Liberal Democrat Voice’s Lords Correspondent. No ermine has been harmed in the production of this article.