A KEY reason for leaving the European Union was to restore parliamentary sovereignty. So it is ironic that this week’s debate over the EU withdrawal bill, formerly known as the Great Repeal Bill, should centre on claims that the executive is usurping parliamentary powers—even more so since David Davis, the Brexit secretary, for years fought hard against such government encroachment.
Nobody disputes that the bill is needed. It gives effect to Brexit by repealing the 1972 European Communities Act. To provide continuity it also translates into British law 12,000-odd EU regulations written in the past 45 years. The big argument is over how to do this. MPs have raised two main issues. The first is the bill’s use of secondary legislation to amend laws by ministerial fiat without parliamentary scrutiny. The second is the question of Parliament’s role in overseeing Brexit.
Secondary legislation has long been a matter of constitutional concern. The Hansard Society,…Continue reading