During the second day of the Committee Stage of the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill in the House of Commons, Sir William Cash made the following interventions:
Sir William Cash (Stone) (Con): On a point of order, Dame Rosie. On the yesterday’s selection list—and, in part, today’s—there are some extremely helpful references to the page numbers of this enormous wodge of amendments. Would it be possible for the Clerks to be good enough to put the page numbers on the selection list for easy reference, because it is sometimes quite difficult to find the amendments at short notice?
The Second Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means (Dame Rosie Winterton): I will certainly bring that to the attention of the Public Bill Office and see what we can do to help.
Sir William Cash: I want to put on the record that I have a lot of sympathy with the idea of an enhanced sifting scrutiny process, as my right hon. and learned Friend knows. I am glad to note that he puts an emphasis, which I am sure we all agree with, on primary legislation. The only question that I want to raise with him about his earlier remarks concerns his enthusiasm for the manner in which the legislation was made in the first place. I make the point yet again that it was done, to an extraordinary extent, behind closed doors and by a process of consensus that cannot possibly be justified.
Mr Grieve: I understand where my hon. Friend comes from, in view of his long-held concerns about these issues. But I ask him to consider the fact that one consequence of our EU membership—I have to accept this—is that in some areas in which law might have developed domestically, it has not done so in the 45 years of our membership, because we did it in common with our European partners. That is just an historical fact. Because it is an historical fact, we have to grapple with how we make sure that we do not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Sir William Cash: I would be grateful if the hon. Gentleman could explain how often, and in what circumstances, the arbitration court has departed from the decision making and precedence of the ECJ.
Stephen Kinnock: This is a clear case of a “before and after” conversation. The court would be substantially altered were the UK to have judges on it. It would be a category shift in the role of the court. It would require negotiation, of course, but I am offering an opportunity to square the circle in terms of the many contrasts, conflicts and competing agendas around the delivery of a Brexit that works for the whole country and delivers for the millions of people who voted in the referendum and who are not ideologues on one side or the other. They want this Parliament to get on with the job and to deliver a Brexit that works for the whole country, and indeed helps to reunite our country. In that spirit, new clause 22 is so important and offers so much.
There is much conversation about models. The Canada model does not include services, while the Ukraine model is new and untested. The EEA/EFTA model is well established and well understood. It would give our business community and our economy the certainty that they so desperately need.
Sir William Cash: The two “retained enhanced protection” new clauses tabled by the Leader of the Opposition are inconsistent. The hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Matthew Pennycook) did not refer in his speech to the fundamental rights as being part of new clause 2 itself. When I compared the two new clauses, I saw considerable inconsistencies. For example, new clause 58, entitled “Retaining Enhanced Protection (No. 2)”, includes the word “repeal”, and the words “environmental standards and protection” are included in new clause 58 but not in new clause 2. That presents a problem, because, as far as I understand the position, it is possible to debate and vote only on the new clauses in question. Which will Members vote on, if they do vote? I think it important to put that on the record, because there are serious inconsistencies between the two.
There has been a great deal of metaphysical discussion about the whole question of retained law. Let me say to those who have not had the benefit of doing so that it is quite useful to read pages 52 to 58 of the House of Commons briefing. It saves a lot of time, including debating time.