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The European Union (Withdrawal) Bill cuts off the source of European Union law in the UK by repealing the European Communities Act 1972, converts EU law and preserves EU-related domestic law onto the post-exit day statute book, and provides delegated powers to make secondary legislation in order to prepare for leaving the EU.

The Bill was introduced to the House of Commons on 13 July 2017 as Bill 005 of 2017-19. 

The Bill was amended in the Commons at Committee and Report stage, and was sent to the House of Lords where it was introduced as HL Bill 79 of 2017-19. 

The Bill was amended in the House of Lords at Report stage and Third Reading.  Both Houses of Parliament have to agree on the text of Bills to be presented for Royal Assent (save for procedures under the Parliament Acts of 1911 and 1949).  The House of Commons has spent 96 hours debating the Bill up to this point, with the House of Lords debating the Bill for a total of 155 hours.

Lords Committee stage

The House of Lords did not amend the Bill at Committee stage although they considered a total of 477 amendments over a period of eleven days.

Lords Report stage

A total of 316 amendments were tabled to the bill for consideration at Report stage, which took place over six days. The House of Lords made 192 amendments to the Bill during Report stage. The Government suffered 14 defeats at divisions and some non-Government amendments were accepted without division. The Government also brought forward their amendments to the Bill.

Non-government amendments made in the Lords covered topics including:

  • requiring the Government to report on steps taken to negotiation continuation in a customs partnership;
  • protection of environmental principles
  • the Charter of Fundamental Rights;
  • the use of delegated powers;
  • the procedures for statutory instruments made under the delegated powers in the bill;
  • exit day;
  • the north-south cooperation and the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland; and,
  • participation in the European Economic Area.

Notable Government amendments included the reversal of the presumption that powers in devolved policy areas would have returned to the UK: they will now return to the devolved institution in the first instance instead.  In addition, the powers to modify the provisions in the bill by regulation under the bill, to create public bodies, and to make regulations for compliance with international obligations under the bill were all removed.

Third Reading

The Government suffered one defeat at Third Reading: a new clause was added regarding the maintenance of EU environmental standards and principles.  Eight Government amendments were also made at Third Reading. 

Commons consideration of Lord amendments

No date has yet been announced to Parliament by the Government for Commons consideration of Lords amendments.  The Commons has to take a decision on all the Lords amendments.  The Commons can agree to, amend, disagree to or replace an amendment. 

A message is then sent to the Lords together with the Bill, any amendments which the Commons have made to or instead of the Lords’ amendments and, in the case of an outright disagreement to a Lords amendment with no alternative offered, a formal reason for that disagreement.  If an amendment has been agreed to by the Commons, this is then communicated to the Lords and it is not subject to any further debate. 

If the Lords insist on all or any of the amendments with which the Commons has disagreed, or disagree to the amendments made by the Commons to or instead of their amendments, or offer different amendments on the same subject, further proceedings would be required again in the Commons to consider any changes made.

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