Commons Reasons
Motion A
Moved by
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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That this House do not insist on its Amendment 15B, to which the Commons have disagreed for their Reason 15C.

15C: Because the Commons do not consider the Lords Amendment necessary in order to maintain environmental protection.
Lord Callanan Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (Lord Callanan) (Con)
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My Lords, with the leave of the House, at the same time as moving Motion A I will speak to Motion B.

The retained EU law Bill has once again returned to this House from the other place. I am pleased to say that the other place has accepted the final drafting change to Amendment 16, so that matter is now closed. This amendment significantly adds to the scrutiny that Parliament can conduct on this Bill.

However, the House of Commons has now been very clear, for the second time, that it is firm in its position on the remaining two amendments. Noble Lords asked the Commons to think again, and it has reached exactly the same conclusion. Indeed, the Solicitor-General noted the many ways in which the Government have already moved on the Bill to reflect the thoughts and concerns of this House. Therefore, today I propose Motions to accept the Commons position on the Bill and accede to the wishes of the elected House.

With regard to the other Motions in front of us today, Amendment 42D looks to be loosely based on one of the scrutiny provisions of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006. However, its use in that Act relates to the legislative reform order power, which is much broader. It can act on any piece of legislation, including Acts of Parliament, whereas the revoke and replace power in this Bill can operate only on secondary retained EU law—in other words, retained EU law that is not primary legislation. We have taken steps to make clear what this retained EU law is by publishing and updating the retained EU law dashboard, and we will be reporting regularly to Parliament on our intentions to reform it. This will allow Parliament a substantial amount of time to scrutinise and report on reforming legislation, if Parliament wishes to do so. As such, these powers are clearly not comparable in terms of scope.

Furthermore, the legislative reform order process is not time-limited. It is still ongoing and available after 17 years, whereas this power will expire three years and three days from today. This is crucial when you consider how long parliamentary processes can take. Amendment 42D envisages up to 60 sitting days for Parliament to consider and debate proposals for statutory instruments, and potentially time after that for further scrutiny before the SIs can be made. We have supported and encouraged the initiative, which started in this House, to maximise transparency around the Government’s plans for retained EU law reform via regular reports to Parliament. In our view, this additional 60-day pre-scrutiny period is simply not required.

Therefore, the Government cannot accept a requirement that would place such a significant time restraint on the usage of the power. Doing so would substantially reduce the time available for the power to be used, which is clearly not an appropriate balance between scrutiny and reform. The clause currently provides for this balance in a much more sustainable way; the third limb of the power already requires the affirmative procedure by default, and the second limb is automatically pushed to the affirmative procedure under specific circumstances. For all other circumstances, the sifting committee exists to recommend upgrading the scrutiny procedure, if Parliament judges it necessary. For all these reasons, the Government cannot accept the amendment.

On Motion A1, of the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, I am once again clear that Amendment 15D is unnecessary. I and many other Ministers have committed to uphold our environmental protections. Equally, the consultation part of the amendment is also irrelevant, as the Government remain committed to consulting on major policy changes, in line with usual practice. We take Dispatch Box commitments very seriously as a Government and will not shirk away from the commitments we have already made during the passage of this Bill.

This amendment is therefore unnecessary. The Government are clear that we have set a strong direction of travel on environmental regulation with our actions across this Parliament, and nothing in this Bill will change that. I therefore ask noble Lords to support Motions A and B on the Order Paper today. I beg to move.

Motion A1 (as an amendment to Motion A)

Moved by
Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs
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At end insert “, and do propose Amendment 15D in lieu—

15D: After Clause 16, insert the following new Clause—
“Environmental protection
(1) Regulations may be made by a relevant national authority under section 12, 13, 15 or 16 only if the relevant national authority is satisfied that the regulations do not reduce the level of environmental protection arising from the EU retained law to which the provision relates.
(2) Prior to making any provision to which this section applies, the relevant national authority must seek advice from persons who are independent of the authority and have relevant expertise.””
Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB)
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My Lords, I will be brief, because we have debated this many times before. I will simply explain why I found it necessary to come back yet again with an amendment on environmental protection.

In the previous round of ping-pong, on 6 June, the Minister, in urging your Lordships to reject a previous version of my amendment, said:

“we have substantive concerns that this amendment, in the way that it is worded, would actually make it more difficult to uphold those environmental commitments”. [Official Report, 6/6/23; col. 1271.]

When I heard this, I was puzzled. It appeared that the Minister was saying that the problem was with the wording of the amendment, rather than the substance. I wondered which bit of the wording would make it more difficult for the Government to ensure that their policies do not lower standards of environmental protection.

Was it the non-regression element, requiring the Government to commit to not lowering standards if and when retained EU law is changed? Was it the requirement to consult relevant experts before making changes? We know from the past record that, when experts were not consulted, mistakes were made. Back in 2019, when Defra removed a protection under EU law relating to endocrine-disrupting pesticides, and it was pointed out that it had made a mistake, Defra quickly corrected its mistake and re-introduced the regulation. Was it the requirement for transparency—the need to publish the reasons for any change, and the advice received? Or was it, fourthly, the requirement to comply with international environmental treaties to which the UK is a signatory?

None of these four requirements seems to me to stand in the way of the policies designed to protect the environment, so I decided to try to find out. I requested a meeting with Ministers to help me understand how a change to the wording of the amendment would achieve my objective of ensuring that environmental standards are not lowered, without making it more difficult to achieve this end. However, I regret to say that Ministers were not prepared to discuss this with me or to come up with an alternative form of words. Therefore, I have redrafted the amendment to make it even simpler than before, in the hope that I have succeeded in overcoming the objection the Minister raised last time around.

The new version of the amendment has just two elements instead of the four that were in the previous version: non-regression on environmental protection and consultation with relevant experts. I have left out the other two elements of the previous version, which were compliance with international obligations and transparency in reporting on expert advice. I have conceded a great deal since my original amendment was passed on Report. In making these compromises, I am trying very hard to make this amendment acceptable to the Government. I am not making a partisan point; I am simply trying to ensure that our environmental protections are not weakened. I am not arguing against future changes to retained EU law. My amendment would simply put in the Bill what the Government say they wish to do in any case—the Minister said it just a few minutes ago—which is not to lower environmental standards. If that is what the Government want to do, why not put it in the Bill? It is not adding any burden or obstacles. As the Minister said, the Government already consult experts, so this is simply saying “Yes, that is what we will do”.
As I said in the previous round of ping-pong, when my amendment passed with a majority of 54, the Government’s watchdog, the Office for Environmental Protection, said that the additional insurance provided by this amendment is essential, especially bearing in mind the parlous state of our environment. I had unexpected support today. It is the first time in my life that I have been supported by the Daily Express—in an opinion piece by former England cricket captain David Gower, who expressed support for this amendment, so it is not just a narrow interest group that I represent. I hope that, in spite of what has been said by the Minister, this time around the Government will accept my stripped-down version, but if not, I will wish to test the opinion of the House. I beg to move.
Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb Portrait Baroness Jones of Moulsecoomb (GP)
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My Lords, I am going to take the liberty of speaking on this amendment because the last time I spoke on an amendment tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, he said that he liked me speaking because I made him look more reasonable, so I will do my best now. The Minister said that the Commons is very clear on this. I would like to make a couple of points. First, I very much doubt whether any of them knew what they were voting on, because they do whatever the Whips tell them. Secondly, if it is so obvious that the Government are going to do this, why not just accept the amendment? Given that this has been brought back twice, it is clearly something this House cares very much about. Lastly, if the other end is stupid, it is our job to make it clear that it is being stupid and that we think this is a very important amendment to make to the Bill. Obviously, the Greens will be voting for it.

Baroness Parminter Portrait Baroness Parminter (LD)
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I rise briefly to add our Benches’ support, if the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, pushes this to a vote. His amendment is a canary in a coal mine—perhaps a Cumbrian coal mine. You put a canary down a coal mine when you want to test whether essential resources that you rely on are about to be lost, to be snuffed out. This is what this is. It is about not just the essential protections for our much-depleted nature, but the essential protections that we as humans rely on: water, air quality and all the ecosystem services that nature provides.

I use that analogy for another purpose, as well. You do not see the canary in the coal mine, but if you talk to the general public about puffins and other wildlife, and all the things they care for when they see them on TV programmes, they know that they want them protected, and they want the Government to act. But we are here at the coalface, mining through the amendments, and we can see the damage that this will do to the protections for people and the animals and wildlife they care for. We are here to bring that canary to the surface. We should do that and press the matter again.

Lord Hope of Craighead Portrait Lord Hope of Craighead (CB)
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My Lords, Motion B1, in my name, raises an issue that has been of great concern to many in this House from the outset in our examination of the Bill: parliamentary sovereignty. The clause that causes particular concern, and to which my Motion is addressed, is Clause 15, headed “Powers to revoke or replace”. All the powers that it contains are exercisable by statutory instrument alone, with no provision for active or meaningful scrutiny by either House. That amounts to what the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, described when the issue was before us two weeks ago—without any exaggeration, I think—as a delegated superpower.

It is worth taking a moment to think about the key words that are used to describe the extent of the powers conferred on a relevant authority by this clause. For our purposes, the relevant authority is a Minister of the Crown. Clause 15(2) states that the Minister

“may by regulations revoke any secondary retained EU law and replace it with such provision as the relevant national authority considers to be appropriate and to achieve the same or similar objectives”.

Clause 15(3) states that the Minister

“may by regulations revoke any secondary retained EU law and make such alternative provision as the relevant national authority considers appropriate”.

The subsection (2) power extends not just to achieving the same objectives but to achieving objectives that the Minister considers to be similar. The decision as to whether they are similar or appropriate, about which there may reasonably be more than one view, is left entirely to the Minister.

Subsection (3) goes even further: it extends to the making of such alternative provision as the Minister considers appropriate. There is no limit here to the objectives that are to be achieved. They do not need to be similar—there is no limit to that extent—so they could be different from those of the secondary retained EU law that is being revoked. Again, there could reasonably be more than one view as to whether the alternative provision, whatever it may happen to be, was appropriate.

It is worth reflecting for a moment on the subject matter of what is open to revocation and replacement in the exercise of these powers. This is not simple, routine stuff for which delegated legislation is unquestionably appropriate. It extends to, among other things, major instruments of policy. It extends to fundamental rules relating to public health, trade and the environment, which were handed down to us by the EU and with which we have lived for several decades. It includes, for example, agricultural support, blood safety, fisheries management, food composition standards, nutrition, resources and waste, and the control of ozone-depleting and radioactive substances. Those are just some examples.

Your Lordships might consider it rather strange, given the nature and extent of what is involved, that neither House of Parliament can play any kind of active role in the scrutiny of these regulations. It really is a take-it-or-leave-it system dictated to Parliament by the Executive. The objections to this, which I need not repeat, have been set out many times, and that is what my amendment seeks to address.

I recognise that the previous amendments, which were moved first by me and later by the noble Lord, Lord Anderson, proposed a system that the Minister was right to describe as novel and untested. What I am now proposing is based on a system, as the Minister has pointed out, known as the super-affirmative procedure, which was enacted by Section 18 of the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Act 2006. I shall explain briefly what this involves.

It applies only to regulations made under Clause 15. It proposes a Commons committee—not a Joint Committee, as previously suggested—to sift regulations made under the clause in the light of an explanation by the Minister as to why the regulation is considered appropriate. If, but only if, the committee reports that there are any regulations to which special attention should be drawn, the Minister must arrange for them to be debated on the Floor of each House. The Minister must then have regard to any resolution of either House and may, but is not required to, propose a revised proposal in the light of what has been resolved. The procedure for approval in both Houses thereafter is the affirmative procedure. Finally, the committee may recommend that the Minister’s proposal should not be proceeded with, but the House of Commons has the last word, as it can reject that recommendation. If it does that, the regulations may be laid.

This is a relatively light-touch procedure, which gives Parliament some measure of oversight of what has been proposed. I offer it as a compromise, in the hope that the Minister, despite the remarks he made at the outset of this debate, will feel able to give it serious consideration. At the heart of it all is an issue of principle, which is of basic concern to this House and the other on their entitlement to take an active part in the major exercise proposed. It is in that spirit that I propose to test the opinion of the House, if necessary, when the time comes.

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts Portrait Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts (Con)
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My Lords, I would like to detain the House for no more than a minute on this issue. I have spoken about it many times in the past.

I support what the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, has said on the principle of what we are looking at. It is very important we remember that my noble friend the Minister said, as a defence of the government position, that the House would have a chance to look at these instruments by means of the affirmative procedure —unamendable, as we know—and that it would have the appropriate back-up information. One of the things that has moved on from the days of just framework Bills is the increasing reluctance of the Government to produce the back-up information—impact assessments and Explanatory Memoranda—in time for the House to do its job properly. The spat we had last week about the Public Order Act regulations was the result of this very question of overcasual behaviour.

My noble friend will say that of course we will have absolutely similar treatment—this is the Government’s argument—for affirmative resolutions as we do for primary legislation. I have the greatest respect for my noble friend on the Front Bench—for his patience, courtesy and diligence—but how he can say that with a straight face absolutely beats me. I am sure that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, has done a very important service for Parliament—this House and the other House—in bringing back this issue for us to consider today.

But then we get to the politics—and politics does come into this. The reality is that the reforms that the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, many other Members of your Lordships’ House and I would like to see come about will take place only if they are led by the House of Commons. If that does not happen, the Government will immediately say that this is the unelected House trying to tell the elected House how to do its job. That, I am afraid, will be game over. That is why I voted against the fatal amendment in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb. The House would be unwise, within one day of the Commons having passed a resolution, to immediately pass a fatal amendment.

The brutal truth is that we have been unable to get Members of Parliament in the House of Commons in sufficient numbers to understand what we are driving at: that it is not to do with EU law but is about parliamentary sovereignty, as the noble and learned Lord has said. There are stirrings there but they are only stirrings.

The case before us is further complicated by the fact that this is all going into the Brexit meat-grinder. In the debate in the House of Commons on 12 June, Sir William Cash MP said:

“The way the House of Lords has dealt with these amendments demonstrates that the Lords are determined to try, by hook or by crook, to obstruct the House of Commons, which is the democratic Chamber in these matters as far as the electorate is concerned”.

Later in the same speech he said:

“We know from everything that we have heard over the last few weeks on the Bill that there is an intransigence—a stubbornness, if I may say so politely—from our noble Friends in the House of Lords in the face of any attempt to get rid of retained EU law in the way in which we are proposing”.—[Official Report, Commons, 12/6/23; col. 34.]

The House will realise from those quotes, which were not contradicted by the Solicitor-General when winding up the debate, that the issue of parliamentary sovereignty has now become irretrievably mixed up and commingled with Brexit, and indeed the last attempts to ask the House of Commons to think again were rejected by a majority of 65 in one case and 67 in another. I believe that the struggle between the Executive and the legislature, so elegantly and wittily explained by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, in his lecture, “The King’s Prerogative”, will go on.
I hope, but I do not have much hope, that my noble friend will still have a chance to think again when he comes to wind up, and he will be able to accept, or go some way towards accepting, what is proposed by the amendment tabled by noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope. If not, I fear that this particular battle is lost, and as regards this vital principle of parliamentary sovereignty and involvement, I fear we may risk traducing it by continued referrals back, particularly when the issue concerned is the volatile and fiercely fought issue of Brexit. We need to encourage the uncommitted Members of the House of Commons to look beyond Brexit to the issue of parliamentary sovereignty and the relative power of Parliament and the Executive.
I hope my noble friend will still be able to make some concession, but in the meantime I am concerned about our continued actions in this regard, and although I entirely support the principle put forward by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, it is with a heavy heart that, for this reason, I am not sure I will be able to support him in the Lobby if he chooses to divide the House.
Lord Pannick Portrait Lord Pannick (CB)
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My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Hodgson, makes a very strong case that the House of Commons is dealing with this as a matter of politics rather than of principle. I draw precisely the opposite conclusion to that of the noble Lord: it is precisely for that reason that we should send the matter back. We should emphasise, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, did, that this is a matter of constitutional principle. It is not a matter of whether you support Brexit or you do not support it. It is not a matter of politics, and we should respectfully invite the other House to focus on what we see as the real constitutional issues that lie behind the Motion proposed by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope.

Baroness Meacher Portrait Baroness Meacher (CB)
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My Lords, I support the amendments tabled by the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, and the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, but in doing so I want to put on record, as a former member of the Delegated Powers Committee, my objection to the Government’s rejection of Amendments 42 and 42B, which proposed a very reasonable process, enabling both Houses of Parliament to debate, vote and make amendments to regulations, but only if those regulations involved a substantial change to the law. The Government’s reaction to Amendments 42 and 42B is yet another example of their determination to bypass Parliament as far as possible and enable substantial law changes to be made by Ministers through delegated powers without the ability of Parliament to make any amendments.

The new amendment tabled by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, is very modest indeed: it applies only to draft Clause 15 regulations, the broadest delegated powers in the Bill. Also, although Parliament will be able to recommend amendments to the regulations, it does not enable Parliament to amend those regulations, only to accept or reject them. Justice takes the view that the amendment tabled by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, is a proportionate and necessary compromise, and should be supported.

Baroness Altmann Portrait Baroness Altmann (Con)
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My Lords, I apologise to my noble friends on these Benches, particularly my noble friend Lord Hodgson. I have the opposite conclusion from the one at which he arrived. My noble friend suggests that it could be game over if we vote once again to ask the Commons to think again. As far as I can see, if we agree to this, it could be game over for us anyway. The Government’s arguments are that if we do not accept their position, these changes will delay the repeal of retained EU law and have also argued that sufficient scrutiny measures are already in place. We know that is not the case.

Giving almighty powers to Ministers to bypass Parliament upends the norms that have governed our country and given us the international reputation we have built. The possibility of allowing any Minister to revoke secondary legislation, just because it happens to emanate originally from the EU, confuses the issue of leaving the European Union with the issue of parliamentary democracy. A Minister could make, change or repeal laws or rules that they consider appropriate, according to this legislation, regardless of Parliament’s view and regardless of whether that Minister even has any expertise in the areas so well outlined by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, such as public health, agriculture, fisheries and blood safety.

The noble and learned Lord’s amendment gives the House of Commons the last word. This is an existential issue beyond politics, and I urge noble Lords to think beyond this Parliament too. If we set this precedent now for this Government, presumably nothing can stop that precedent being used against these Benches, or in some other unacceptable manner, in the future. That could happen if we give up the idea that Parliament must make the rules, rather than Ministers.

Baroness Butler-Sloss Portrait Baroness Butler-Sloss (CB)
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My Lords, over the years I have sat in this House, I have become increasingly concerned about the powers which have been taken by successive Governments, particularly this Government, to the detriment of both Houses of Parliament. It seems extraordinary to me that the House of Commons has not yet appeared to realise the extent to which it, quite apart from us, is being marginalised. This is a very concerning matter. It goes, as my noble friend Lord Pannick said, far beyond the politics; this is a constitutional issue about the rights and powers of both Houses. This is just one example—the latest and one of the most disturbing—which this House has seen over a number of years.

I support both amendments, but particularly the amendment of my noble and learned friend Lord Hope. We really have to remind the House of Commons, the other place, what is happening to it as well as to us.

Lord Hamilton of Epsom Portrait Lord Hamilton of Epsom (Con)
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My Lords, I totally agree with the sentiments of the noble Baroness, Lady Meacher, my noble friend Lady Altmann, and the noble and learned Baroness, Lady Butler-Sloss. However, at the end of the day, the House of Commons is the elected House, and it has the right, as the elected House, to be wrong. I am afraid we have to accept that.

If we go on throwing this back, saying it should think again—and the House of Commons thinks again and comes up with yet another quite substantial majority in favour of the status quo—all we are doing is antagonising the other place unnecessarily. I cannot understand why the other place is giving away the powers that it is—in the way that it seems happy to let the Executive take over everything—but that is what it has decided to do. It is the elected House and we should live with it.

Lord Fox Portrait Lord Fox (LD)
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My Lords, it is an honour to follow so many wise speeches. I am not going to attempt to lengthen this debate or trump that wisdom. In the various iterations of this discussion, we have benefited from having either the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, or the noble Lord, Lord Anderson; today, we have both of them in their places. Although I associate myself with my noble friend Lady Parminter’s comments regarding the amendment in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Krebs, I will speak to the amendment in the name of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope.

I want to make just two points. First, the objection in the Commons largely and often dwelt on the unprecedented nature of the amendment that was being brought to them by your Lordships last time. In this case, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, has dealt with that issue. This is not an unprecedented situation. It speaks a little to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Hamilton: it is not that we are bringing back the same amendment, rewritten in different ways. Your Lordships are being asked to re-present a different proposition to the one that was presented last time. The Leader of the House can shake his head but, if he reads the amendments, he will see that they are fundamentally different; I am sure that he knows that in his heart. We are asking your Lordships not to be stubborn, in the words of William Cash, but to offer the Commons a different alternative. Stubbornness is doing the same thing over and over again. This is not the same thing; it is markedly different.

The other point that I want to address, which no one else has addressed, is the one made by the Minister about how much time this would take. I accept that it may take time, but we have to look at what we are doing. First, we are doing important things that Parliament should retain an ambit over. Secondly, the things that we are dealing with are things that we have lived with for many years—indeed, decades. This is not a burning platform; it is stuff that already exists. We are co-existing with it. It is not something that has a blue light on and must be rushed down the road as fast as possible. The argument about time does not count, in my view.

It is clear from what I and my colleagues have said that we support this amendment and will certainly vote for it when the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, presses it.

Baroness Chapman of Darlington Portrait Baroness Chapman of Darlington (Lab)
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My Lords, I will speak briefly because I agree with everything that the noble Lord, Lord Fox, just said. We are grateful to the Minister for what he said in his introduction to this debate and to all noble Lords who have contributed and engaged with this Bill since the beginning. However, we on these Benches think that the Government should join us in insisting on Lords Amendments 15B and 42D, as they now are. We agree with noble Lords that their amendments in lieu are sensible compromises and remain deeply concerned by the potential for the protection of our environment, in particular, to be watered down without such protection on the face of the Bill. It seems slightly odd that the Government have compromised on the fundamental purpose and shape of this Bill in removing the sunset, which was a huge thing for them to do. It is strange that they are now determined to hold out on these two relatively minor outstanding issues, which are about improved scrutiny and environmental protection.

The proposal from the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, is a proportionate and necessary compromise. The noble Lord, Lord Krebs, is correct to highlight the inadequacy of the verbal commitment offered by the Minister, which obviously may not stand the test of time. These are important principles. Should the noble and learned Lord and the noble Lord wish to test the opinion of the House, we on these Benches will support them.

Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan (Con)
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My Lords, we have had this debate numerous times now, so the House will be delighted to know that I can keep my response fairly brief. I have responded to all the points made previously because noble Lords have repeated many of the points that they made in earlier debates.

Interestingly, the one person who did not repeat the points that he made in earlier debates was the noble Lord, Lord Fox; I was surprised to hear him say that he will support the Anderson/Hope amendment because, in the previous round, in response to a similar point about endless ping-pong made by my noble friend Lord Hamilton, the noble Lord, Lord Fox, said:

“I respectfully suggest that we are not proposing”

endless ping-pong but that

“we are proposing one more ping and one more pong”.—[Official Report, 6/6/23; col. 1262.]

Unlike some of the sceptics behind me, I have faith in what the Liberal Democrats say. I am absolutely certain that, because that is what the noble Lord, Lord Fox, said last time, he will join us in the Lobby this evening. We have hope yet; I am sure that the Liberal Democrats would not want to go back on their word.

On Amendment 42C, while I respect the noble and learned Lord, Lord Hope, on this point, I think he is pushing his luck slightly now, if I may say so, respectfully. I think he knows this is adding unacceptable time into the debate, and the Government cannot accept a procedure as unwieldy as what he has proposed. It would also cut the amount of time for the powers to be used by up to a third, which is an unacceptable limitation on the reform programme. I think the noble and learned Lord knows this is not about additional parliamentary scrutiny; this is actually about stopping Parliament acting in this area. The reform programme is a crucial part of the Government’s agenda, and it is not an appropriate balance between scrutiny and reform to restrict it in such a manner.
Turning to Amendment 15C, I will repeat the arguments that I have made previously and that the House of Commons has supported. The noble Lord’s Motion proposes to insert additional measures into the Bill on environmental protection. I do appreciate the sentiment, but the noble Lord also knows very well the Government’s position on this and the importance we attach to maintaining environmental standards. We do not believe that this amendment is necessary, and in light of the many commitments we have made in this House and the other place, I hope noble Lords will reject both.
Lord Krebs Portrait Lord Krebs (CB)
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My Lords, I thank the noble Lords who have contributed to the debate on my amendment, as well as on the amendment of my noble and learned friend Lord Hope of Craighead. A key word that was mentioned in the contribution by the noble Baroness, Lady Chapman of Darlington, was “compromise”. When my amendment passed at the last round of ping-pong, I asked Ministers whether we could talk about it and try to find a compromise wording that would satisfy the Government and the majority of Members of this House who supported the previous amendment; but no compromise was forthcoming. I thought that when you have a disagreement among reasonable adults, you talk it through and try to reach a compromise. That is not what the Government are trying to do, so I am left with little option but to test the opinion of the House.

I would also briefly like to thank the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb, for fulfilling her duty of making me look reasonable, so I thank her for that. I also thank the noble Baroness, Lady Parminter, for reminding us of the important fact that protecting our environment is of huge public concern. I am sure there will be noble Lords who will want to vote against my amendment, and I would like them to ask themselves whether they would be prepared to stand up in front of a television camera and explain to David Attenborough why they think it is not necessary for this Government to maintain our current standards of environmental protections. I wish to test the opinion of the House.


Division 1

Ayes: 232

Labour: 111
Liberal Democrat: 59
Crossbench: 47
Independent: 8
Bishops: 3
Green Party: 2
Conservative: 1
Plaid Cymru: 1

Noes: 187

Conservative: 169
Crossbench: 6
Democratic Unionist Party: 5
Independent: 5
Labour: 1
Ulster Unionist Party: 1

Motion B
Moved by
Lord Callanan Portrait Lord Callanan
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That this House do not insist on its Amendment 42B, to which the Commons have disagreed for their Reason 42C.

42C: Because the Commons consider the scrutiny procedure imposed by the Lords Amendment to be inappropriate.
Motion B1 (as an amendment to Motion B)
Moved by
Lord Hope of Craighead Portrait Lord Hope of Craighead
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At end insert “, and do propose Amendment 42D in lieu—

42D: After Clause 15, insert the following new Clause—
“Parliamentary scrutiny
(1) This section applies to all regulations proposed to be made under section 15 by a Minister of the Crown which revoke any secondary retained EU law and –
(a) replace it with such provision to achieve the same or similar objectives, or
(b) make such alternative provision,
as a Minister of the Crown considers to be appropriate.
(2) Regulations referred to in subsection (1) may not be made (under the applicable provisions of paragraphs 7 and 8 of Schedule 4) unless a document containing a proposal for those regulations has been referred to a Committee of the House of Commons, together with a statement by the Minister of the Crown which explains why the Minister considers the replacement or the alternative provision proposed, as the case may be, is appropriate, and the other requirements of this section have been met.
(3) If the Committee reports that special attention should be drawn to the proposed regulations in question, then subsections (4) to (8) apply.
(4) A Minister of the Crown must arrange for the proposal for the regulations to be debated on the floor of each House within the relevant period referred to in subsection (5).
(5) The relevant period is a period of 60 days beginning with the day on which the proposal and the corresponding statement were referred to the Committee, not including any period during which Parliament is dissolved or prorogued or either House is adjourned for more than four days.
(6) The Minister making the regulations must have regard to any resolution of either House and to any recommendations by the Committee made during the relevant period.
(7) If, after the expiry of the relevant period, the Minister making the regulations wishes to make an instrument in the terms of the proposal (under the applicable provisions of paragraphs 7 and 8 of Schedule 4), the Minister may do so only if the proposal for those regulations is approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.
(8) If, after the expiry of the relevant period, the Minister making the regulations wishes to make an instrument in the terms of a revised version of the proposal (under the applicable provisions of paragraphs 7 and 8 of Schedule 4), the Minister must lay before Parliament a document containing the revised proposal for the regulations together with a statement of the changes proposed and may make an instrument in the terms of the revised proposal only if the revised proposal is approved by a resolution of each House of Parliament.
(9) The Committee may, at any time before the regulations are laid in draft or made (under the applicable provisions of paragraphs 7 and 8 of Schedule 4), recommend that they should not be proceeded with.
(10) Where a recommendation is made by the Committee under subsection (9), the regulations may not be laid in draft or made unless the recommendation is rejected by a resolution of the House of Commons.””
Lord Hope of Craighead Portrait Lord Hope of Craighead (CB)
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My Lords, I am grateful to all noble Lords who spoke to my Motion B1. I have only one comment to make, which is that the noble Lord attributed to me a state of knowledge that I simply do not recognise. It is not my intention to frustrate the intentions of the Government in any way; my amendment is all about the issue of principle to which the noble Lord, Lord Pannick, referred—it is a crucial instrument. That being the point, I beg to test the opinion of the House.


Division 2

Ayes: 241

Labour: 113
Liberal Democrat: 60
Crossbench: 50
Independent: 9
Conservative: 3
Bishops: 3
Green Party: 2
Plaid Cymru: 1

Noes: 181

Conservative: 166
Democratic Unionist Party: 5
Crossbench: 4
Independent: 4
Labour: 1
Ulster Unionist Party: 1