Professor Michael Dougan’s written scrutiny of EU Withdrawal Bill accepted by Parliament

Written evidence submitted by the University of Liverpool’s Professor Michael Dougan has been accepted as part of the House of Commons’ Procedure Committee’s analysis of the EU Withdrawal Bill.

In his written evidence, Professor Dougan contends: “The Bill would give the Government delegated powers of extraordinary scope and potency.

“Those powers would allow the Government to take a wide range of potentially significant policy changes, capable of going well beyond those strictly necessitated by the very act of UK withdrawal from the EU, subject to only limited – if not altogether marginal – parliamentary scrutiny and control.”

The evidence has been accepted as part of the Procedure Committee’s inquiry into how delegated legislation is scrutinised, in the context of the Government’s proposed Bill.

Professor Dougan, one of the country’s leading experts on EU law as it relates to the UK, proposes two “fundamental problems” with the Bill in his written evidence.

The first problem is a principled constitutional objection.

Professor Dougan said: “The Bill is premised upon asking Parliament, and the wider public, to show a very high degree of trust in the willingness of the Government to exercise its undoubtedly potent delegated powers in a suitably restrained, moderate and sensitive manner.

“It is contestable whether that is a legitimate premise upon which legislation of fundamental constitutional importance should be built.”

The second problem identified relates to the “ambiguous” and “malleable” definitions and criteria used in the Bill, which Professor Dougan says “would allow for reasonable decision-makers to reach divergent conclusions” and “risks the emergence of divergent approaches to the exercise of the proposed delegated powers across different Government departments, according to their respective agendas.”

Tomorrow, oral evidence from Leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom MP and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Exiting the European Union, Steve Baker MP will be heard.

Evidence will also be taken from the SNP’s Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, Pete Wishart MP.  Shadow Ministers from the Official Opposition will give evidence to the Committee on a date yet to be announced.

To read Professor Michael Dougan’s full written evidence to the Procedure Committee, visit:

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