EU Withdrawal Bill Update

Posted on Tuesday, May 1st, 2018

The EU Withdrawal Bill is now at Report stage in the House of Lords. Having passed through the House of Commons, the bill is nearing the end of the process before it receives royal assent and is inscribed into law.

Two weeks ago (18th April), the House of Lords began voting on amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill that had been tabled by peers. The latest list of amendments, which include many on human rights and equality safeguards, can be found here. Voting will continue until the 8th May.

Once the bill has passed Report Stage, there will be a Third Reading in the Lords before being sent back to the House of Commons where MPs will consider the Lords’ amendments.

Successes!

Enhanced Protections:

The Government was defeated by 314 to 217 as Peers voted in favour of Amendment 11, tabled by Baroness Hayter, to ensure enhanced protection of EU law in certain areas. Speaking before the vote, Baroness Hayter warned that, without any protection, employment, equality rights and environmental standards “could be weakened by secondary legislation”.

Retention of the EU Charter:

Peers voted 316 to 245 in favour of Lord Pannick’s Amendment 15 on keeping the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Practising lawyer and Cross-bencher Lord Pannick opened the debate by stating that removal of the rights enshrined by the Charter would be “unprincipled and unjustified”. The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights sets out vital political, social and economic rights, including a guarantee on human dignity and prohibitions on human trafficking.

Lords have also voted to:

  • Limit ‘Henry VIII powers’, and thus impose greater restrictions on ministerial powers through a number of amendments.
  • Allow Parliament to have a meaningful vote on the final deal.

Given that the Government does not have a secure majority when it comes to Brexit votes, this signals to ministers that the current bill “does not adequately preserve fundamental rights and standards​“.

René Cassin will continue to follow the votes and work with other organisations to encourage support for amendments which ensure that fundamental rights are safeguarded.

For more information:

Report Stage Briefing for Peers by the Repeal Bill Alliance

Liberty and Amnesty International UK’s Joint Briefing on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill Report Stage in the House of Lords

Public Law Project Briefing for the House of Lords Report