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Role - European Statutory Instruments Committee

The European Statutory Instruments Committee was established by the House of Commons to "sift" proposed negative instruments following the passing of the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018. The House of Lords has added this new "sifting" role to the work of the Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee. In March 2021, the committee’s role was expanded to include sifting proposed negative instruments laid under the EU Future Relationship Act 2020.

Background

The EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 gave Ministers wide powers to make regulations to deal with the "deficiencies in retained EU law" resulting from the UK's withdrawal from the EU. It allows them a choice of procedure and most regulations are first laid as "proposed negative instruments", which after a "sifting" process, are laid as statutory instruments (SIs). The proposed negative instruments appear on the gov.uk website.

The EU Withdrawal Act also provides that committees in each House "sift" these proposed negative instruments, to determine if any put forward for the negative procedure contain material that would be more appropriate to the affirmative procedure (which requires a debate in each House).

The EU Future Relationship Act 2020 also gives Ministers wide powers to make regulations for the purposes of implementing the EU/UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, the Nuclear Cooperation Agreement, the Security of Classified Information Agreement or any relevant agreement and to deal with matters “arising out of, or related to, these agreements”. The sifting process is the same for instruments laid under both acts.

How the sifting process works

The committees have 10 sitting days, beginning the day after the proposed negative instrument is laid, to scrutinise the instrument and make their recommendations. If either of the committees recommend that a proposed negative should be upgraded to the affirmative procedure, the Minister may either accept the recommendation or reject it—in which case the Minister must make a written statement explaining why.

Recommendations of the "sifting" committees appear in reports shortly after the committees have met. The statutory instruments are then laid before Parliament, under either the negative or affirmative procedure, and are subject to the normal scrutiny processes, including consideration by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments and the House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee.

Further Information