Brexit cannot be imposed on devolved nations, says National Assembly committee
Brexit can only be delivered in partnership with devolved nations, not imposed on them, says a National Assembly committee.
The Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee has released a statement in which it outlines its concern that the National Assembly could lose powers to central control as a resulting of leaving the European Union (EU), particularly in policy areas that have been heavily reliant on EU law, such as agriculture and the environment.
Part of the basis for the concerns stem from the UK Government’s approach to the Wales Act 2017; legislation the Committee concluded was over-complicated, bureaucratic and which did not address many points raised by either the Welsh Government or the National Assembly.
The Committee sets out five key principles to underpin the UK Government’s Great Repeal Bill, which will convert all relevant EU into British law, and any other Bill relevant to the UK’s exit from the EU. Among them are:
- The whole process of exiting the EU must always ensure respect for the rule of law;
- This means that legislation arising from exiting the EU: (a) must be subject to proper parliamentary scrutiny, and (b) must be clear, precise and well-drafted; and
- The National Assembly must be the legislature responsible for legislating in devolved areas.
The Committee also believes the UK Government must address the question of what is the Union for when considering Brexit legislation.
“What makes Wales’s position particularly uncertain is that the introduction of the Great Repeal Bill coincides with a changing devolution settlement that is untried and untested,” said Huw Irranca-Davies AM, Chair of the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee.
“Once the reserved powers model is in force, the boundaries of our legislative competence will no longer be as we previously understood them, and it is difficult to say with confidence what the legislative competence of the National Assembly will be.
“However, based on the UK Government’s approach in relation to the Wales Act 2017, we are concerned that the National Assembly could lose powers to central control as a result of exiting the EU, particularly in policy areas that have been heavily reliant on EU law.
“Overall, the key issue that needs to be addressed by the UK Government is the creation of a legal and constitutional context that serves the devolved nations and UK following exit from the EU. That context needs to be developed in partnership with devolved nations rather than being imposed upon them.”
The Committee has submitted its conclusions to both the House of Commons Procedure Committee, and the Assembly’s External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee as part of its inquiry into the Great Repeal Bill.
Letter to Chair External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee Great Repeal Bill Inquiry