Murray – Ministers should not grab criminal law powers through Haulage Bill

The House of Lords Constitution Committee have published a report on the Government’s Road Haulage and Trailer Registration Bill: legislation the Government is bringing forward to cover the legislative hole that will be left if we leave the European Union.

The Constitution Committee report states (emphasis as in original):

The UK’s departure from the European Union may require the Government to make new law and enable new regimes at short notice, depending on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations and any new relationship agreements. However, bills that grant broad powers to ministers, on the basis of no clear policy, are difficult for Parliament to scrutinise and present a fundamental challenge to the balance of power between Parliament and the executive.

And:

We draw particular attention to clauses 8 and 17, which allow for the creation of criminal offences by regulation subject to the negative procedure. Although the proposed offences will be of a minor nature, given the lack of policy detail, it is difficult to assess the significance of these powers.

 

Commenting, Ian Murray MP, leading supporter of the Open Britain campaign, said:

“Once again Ministers are threatening Parliamentary scrutiny and accountability through a piece of emergency Brexit legislation.

“In the referendum the anti-Europeans told us leaving would be about taking back control and making our Parliament fully sovereign: but now we see their real agenda was to give Government more and more powers.

“In Scotland and Wales, they are threatening the devolution settlements, in Northern Ireland they risk trashing the Good Friday Agreement and, as the Lords warn today, they are now threatening the integrity of criminal law.

“As the threat Brexit poses to our constitution’s integrity becomes clear, we all have a right to keep an open mind about whether Brexit is right for our country.”

/ends

 

Notes to editors

The House of Lords Constitution Committee’s report can be read here: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201719/ldselect/ldconst/90/90.pdf 

The Bill as introduced can be read here: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/lbill/2017-2019/0084/lbill_2017-20190084_en_1.htm

The powers to introduce new criminal offences – which could apply across the UK – would be granted under clause 20.