On 7th March 2018, peers discussed Clause 7 of the EU Withdrawal Bill: ‘Dealing with deficiencies arising from withdrawal’, as part of Committee Stage. The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines spoke.
The Lord Bishop of Leeds
My Lords, I add my voice to those who are expressing caution. I sympathise with Ministers. Somehow a balance has to be struck between the technical freedom and flexibility to deal with matters as they arise—that is a legitimate concern—and the constitutional questions that have been raised this evening. The words matter. The word “significant” is one of my pet hates, where people use it because they do not want to find a more precise word. You always want to ask, “Significant of what?” They probably mean, “It’s important” or “It matters to me”.
“Appropriate” is another one. It is a word that creates space when we do not want to be precise—but when you are dealing with matters of law you need precision. It seems to me that the very simple mechanism of changing “appropriate” to “necessary”, with some criteria by which it could be deemed to be necessary or unnecessary, offers the sort of balance that the Committee is looking for.