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Committee urges post-legislative scrutiny of EU future relationship bill

29 December 2020

The Constitution Committee has concluded that the fast-tracking of the European Union (Future Relationship) Bill through both Houses of Parliament in one day severely constrains parliamentary scrutiny, and the Bill should therefore be subject to post-legislative scrutiny.

In its short report, the Committee notes that fast-tracking bills limits the opportunity for parliamentarians to table and debate amendments, restricts input from stakeholders and the public, and potentially leads to poor legislation.

Key findings

  • The Committee disagrees with the Government’s view that the Bill is not suitable for post-legislative scrutiny.
  • While the content of the future relationship treaty cannot be amended by Parliament, “the form in which it is given effect is of considerable significance and warrants careful scrutiny.”
  • The mechanisms used by the Bill to rewrite UK domestic law to implement the Agreement have significant and potentially long-lasting constitutional implications, particularly for the role of Parliament and the operation of the devolution arrangements.

Chair's comment

Baroness Taylor, Chair of the Constitution Committee said:

“The opportunities for parliamentarians and committees in either House to scrutinise the Bill’s provisions are severely constrained. We have not been able to conduct our normal assessment of its constitutional implications, especially since it was only made available less than 24 hours before coming to the House.

“Given the limited time available for scrutiny, we recommend the House considers how best to review the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, and conduct post-legislative scrutiny of the Bill to implement it, and to undertake such scrutiny at the earliest opportunity.”

Further information