Skip to main content

Parliamentary scrutiny of treaties - Constitution Committee launches call for evidence

25 October 2018

The House of Lords Constitution Committee has today launched an inquiry into the parliamentary scrutiny of treaties and invites individuals and organisations to submit evidence.

The deadline for submissions is 5pm on Thursday 6 December 2018

The Committee has launched the inquiry to investigate the efficacy of Parliament's current role in treaty scrutiny, looking at how the mechanisms of treaty scrutiny work in other countries' parliaments and assessing how and when Parliament should scrutinise the government's handling of treaties post-Brexit.

Parliament's current system of treaty scrutiny is limited and this role needs to be examined to ensure that it is sufficiently robust to deal with potentially many more treaties after the UK leaves the European Union.

Key questions

  • How effective is Parliament's current scrutiny of treaties in both holding the Government to account and helping it get the best agreements possible?
  • How useful are the processes and powers under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 and do they strike the right balance between Parliament and government?
  • What challenges does Brexit pose for Parliament's consideration of treaties?
  • What role should Parliament have in the future in scrutinising treaties, from potentially requiring approval for the negotiating mandate through negotiations themselves to treaty agreement, as well as in subsequent treaty actions like amendments, derogations, enforcement and withdrawal? How should this link to Parliament's consideration of treaty-implementing legislation?
  • To what extent, if at all, does the judgment of the Supreme Court in the Miller case on triggering Article 50 have implications for the government's future treaty actions?
  • Should different types of treaties be subject to different levels of scrutiny? If so, how should these be differentiated?
  • Is a parliamentary treaties scrutiny committee required to examine government treaty actions post-Brexit? If so, how should it be composed and supported, and what powers should it have? Or would another model be appropriate?
  • What information should the government provide to Parliament on its treaty actions? Should there be a regular reporting requirement during negotiations?
  • How might the government and/or Parliament best engage other stakeholders and members of the public during treaty negotiation and scrutiny?
  • What models of treaty scrutiny in other countries are most effective and what might the UK Parliament learn from them?
    What role should the devolved institutions have in negotiating and agreeing treaties

Chairman's comments

Chairman of the Committee Baroness Taylor of Bolton said:

“After the UK leaves the EU, Parliament will likely have many more treaties to scrutinise. The Committee is determined to ensure that Parliament has the processes in place to undertake this vital function of treaty scrutiny”.

Further information

Image: parliamentary copyright