What is the EU (Withdrawal) Bill?

The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill seeks to incorporate EU law into domestic law. The intention is that all EU law shall be brought onto the UK statute book and can then be amended or repealed later. However, the Bill provides that some EU law shall not be retained, such as the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.

Progress of the Bill through Parliament

The Bill has finished in the House of Commons and is now in the House of Lords. Once the House of Lords stage has finished there will then be interaction between the two Houses where they consider each other’s amendments. The Bill will then enter into force once Royal Assent has been granted.

More detail on each of the stages and relevant rights issues is set out below. Full reports are available on the UK Parliament’s website.

  • House of Commons (July 2017-January 2018)

    The Withdrawal Bill was introduced into the House of Commons on 13th July 2017. It was in the Commons for six months, being passed to the House of Lords on 18th January 2018.

    During the Committee Stage, a key area of debate was the retention of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Several amendments were tabled to the Bill which sought to retain Charter rights after Brexit. However, these were later withdrawn when the UK Government gave assurances that Brexit would not result in a reduction in rights, and that those rights set out in the Charter were already protected by other sources such as domestic law and other international treaties.

    • Read Together’s briefing for Committee Stage in the House of Commons

    The UK Government published a report on 5th December 2017 which attempted to show that each Charter right was already protected by other sources, concluding that removing the Charter would not result in a loss of rights.

    The UK Government’s analysis was criticised in a report by the Joint Committee on Human Rights and a Legal Opinion obtained by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. Both concluded that the loss of the Charter would result in a reduction in rights, contrary to the UK Government’s claims.

  • House of Lords (January 2018 – present)

    The Withdrawal Bill entered the House of Lords on 18th January 2018. It is currently in the XX Stage.

    The Lords have tabled their own amendments which seek to retain Charter rights in UK law after Brexit. Other amendments have been tabled which are particularly relevant to children. These include:

    • An amendment to retain Article 24 of the Charter (rights of the child)
    • An amendment which would require Government Ministers have “due regard” to the UNCRC when creating secondary legislation to modify retained EU law.
    • Amendments seeking to preserve cross-border cooperation between the UK and the EU in criminal matters affecting children such as sexual abuse and child trafficking.
    • Amendments seeking to preserve cooperation on cross-border family law matters, including child abduction and relocation.

     

    Together has produced two briefings for Peers, these focus on preserving the Charter

    • Read Together’s briefing for Second Reading in the House of Lords here.
    • Read Together’s briefing for Committee Stage in the House of Lords here.
  • Consideration of amendments

    Once the House of Lords stage has concluded, there shall be a period of “back and forth” between the House of Lords and House of Commons where the amendments made by each House are considered by the other.

    It is anticipated that this period will commence in approximately June 2018.

  • Royal assent

    Once the provisions of the Bill have been agreed, the Bill shall then be submitted for Royal Assent. This is the final stage required before the Bill can come into force as an Act of Parliament.

    The UK Government’s intention is that Royal Assent shall be achieved by July 2018.