European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill – Bishop of Leeds supports amendment on parliamentary oversight of future negotiations

On 15th January 2020 the House of Lords considered amendments to the Government’s European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill at its second day in Committee. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, spoke in support of an amendment* to provide an ongoing role for both Houses of Parliament during the future relationship negotiations.

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I think that the context has changed. When the Benn amendment went through, it was suspected of having the intention to thwart or delay Brexit. We are not in that position now: Brexit is going to go ahead. Surely, then, it is the job of the whole of Parliament to defend and promote its own interests and those of the Government in the negotiations going forward. So, in a perverse way, this amendment strengthens the hand of the Government by bringing in Parliament to back it and provide support as they embark on their negotiations; it does not diminish it.


Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town (Lab)…What is important in this came in the example about America—I think it was from the noble Lord, Lord Kerr—but also from the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Leeds. Parliamentary approval actually strengthens, not diminishes, the Government’s stance; that is worth listening to. The taking back of control was meant to be by Parliament, not just by the Government, but we are surely at our strongest where the two work together. The noble Lord, Lord Wilson of Dinton, said two things. One was that when the Government are strong, they can make mistakes; he also urged the Government to work with Parliament, not set themselves against Parliament…

The amendment was withdrawn and not put to a vote at the end of the debate.


*Text of Amendment 27

Moved by Baroness Hayter of Kentish Town

27: After Clause 30, insert the following new Clause—

“Oversight of negotiations for future relationship

After section 13B of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 (certain dispute procedures under withdrawal agreement) (for which see section 30 above) insert—“13C Negotiations for future relationship(1) A Minister of the Crown must, before the end of the period of 30 Commons sitting days beginning with the day on which exit day falls, make a statement on objectives for the future relationship with the EU.(2) A Minister of the Crown may, at any time after the initial statement is made, make a revised statement on objectives for the future relationship with the EU.(3) A statement on objectives for the future relationship with the EU must be consistent with the political declaration of 17 October 2019 referred to in Article 184 of the withdrawal agreement (negotiations on the future relationship).(4) A Minister of the Crown may not engage in negotiations on the future relationship with the EU unless—(a) a statement on objectives for the future relationship with the EU has been approved by the House of Commons on a motion moved by a Minister of the Crown, and(b) a motion for the House of Lords to take note of that statement has been moved in that House by a Minister of the Crown.(5) In conducting negotiations on the future relationship with the EU, a Minister of the Crown must seek to achieve the objectives set out in the most recent statement on objectives for the future relationship with the EU to have been—(a) approved by a resolution of the House of Commons on a motion moved by a Minister of the Crown, and(b) the subject of a motion of the kind mentioned in subsection (4)(b).(6) After the end of each reporting period, a Minister of the Crown must—(a) lay before each House of Parliament a report on the progress made, by the end of the period, in negotiations on the future relationship with the EU, including—(i) the Minister’s assessment of the extent to which the outcome of those negotiations is likely to reflect the most recent statement on objectives for the future relationship with the EU to have been approved by ​the House of Commons, and the subject of a motion in the House of Lords, as mentioned in subsection (4), and(ii) if the Minister’s assessment is that the future relationship with the EU is, in any respect, not likely to reflect that statement, an explanation of why that is so, and(b) provide a copy of the report to the Presiding Officer of each of the devolved legislatures and to—(i) the Scottish Ministers,(ii) the Welsh Ministers, and(iii) the First Minister and deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland or the Executive Office in Northern Ireland.(7) Subsections (8) and (9) apply if, in the opinion of a Minister of the Crown, an agreement in principle has been reached with the EU on a treaty the principal purpose of which is to deal with all or part of the future relationship with the EU.(8) A Minister of the Crown must lay before each House of Parliament—(a) a statement that political agreement has been reached, and(b) a copy of the negotiated future relationship treaty.(9) A treaty in the same form, or to substantially the same effect, as the negotiated future relationship treaty may be ratified only if the negotiated future relationship treaty has been approved by a resolution of the House of Commons on a motion moved by a Minister of the Crown and—(a) the House of Lords has not resolved, within the period of 14 Lords sitting days beginning with the day on which the negotiated future relationship treaty is laid before that House, that any treaty resulting from it should not be ratified, or(b) if the House of Lords has so resolved within that period, a Minister of the Crown has laid before each House of Parliament a statement indicating that the Minister is of the opinion that the treaty should nevertheless be ratified and explaining why.(10) Section 20 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 (treaties to be laid before Parliament before ratification) does not apply in relation to a treaty if subsection (9) applies in relation to the ratification of that treaty.(11) In this section—“devolved legislature” means—(a) the Scottish Parliament,(b) the National Assembly for Wales, or(c) the Northern Ireland Assembly;“future relationship with the EU” means the main arrangements which are designed to govern the security and economic aspects of the long-term relationship between the United Kingdom and the EU after IP completion day and to replace or modify the arrangements which apply during the implementation period, but does not include the withdrawal agreement;“negotiated future relationship treaty” means a draft of a treaty identified in a statement that political agreement has been reached;“negotiations” means negotiations the opening of which, on behalf of the EU, has been authorised under Article 218 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union;“reporting period” means— ​(a) the period of three months beginning with the first day on which a statement on objectives for the future relationship with the EU is approved by a resolution of the House of Commons on a motion moved by a Minister of the Crown, and(b) each subsequent period of three months;“statement on objectives for the future relationship with the EU” means a statement—(a) made in writing by a Minister of the Crown setting out proposed objectives of Her Majesty’s Government in negotiations on the future relationship with the EU, and(b) published in such manner as the Minister making it considers appropriate;“statement that political agreement has been reached” means a statement made in writing by a Minister of the Crown which—(a) states that, in the Minister’s opinion, an agreement in principle has been reached with the EU on a treaty the principal purpose of which is to deal with all or part of the future relationship with the EU, and(b) identifies a draft of that treaty which, in the Minister’s opinion, reflects the agreement in principle;“treaty” has the same meaning as in Part 2 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 (see section 25(1) and (2) of that Act).””Member’s explanatory statement

This amendment reinstates the oversight Clause from the original version of the Bill, providing an ongoing role for both Houses of Parliament during the future relationship negotiations.

via Parliament.uk