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Tue, 27 October 2020

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Ministers leaving MPs with 'impossible task' of scrutinising flood of Brexit laws

Ministers leaving MPs with 'impossible task' of scrutinising flood of Brexit laws
2 min read

MPs face an "impossible task" in scrutinising all the tweaks to British law that are needed in time for Brexit, a new report has warned.


Ministers have estimated that between 800 and 1,000 statutory instruments (SIs) will be needed to ensure there are no holes in the UK's statute book before EU laws are repealed on exit day on March 29 next year.

But new analysis by the Hansard Society has found that just 71 - or 9% - of those tweaks have been made with less than six months to go until Britain is due to quit the bloc.

Following a furious row with MPs over the use of SIs - which can be passed without going through the full scrutiny process - ministers agreed to let parliamentary committees oversee the host of tweaks and flag up any controversial changes.

But the Hansard Society warned that a lack of progress means MPs may have to be bypassed completely in order to get Britain's statue book in shape for Brexit.

Hansard Society director Ruth Fox told The Times: "If the government does not increase the pace, parliament will shortly be faced with the impossible task of scrutinising too many SIs in too little time.

"The government promised it would try to avoid a ‘peak and trough’ approach to the production of the SIs so parliament could do its scrutiny job properly. It needs to deliver on that promise."

A spokesperson for the Department for Exiting the European Union said ministers remained "confident of passing the required number of exit-related statutory instruments before exit day".

They added: "It has always been our plan to increase the number of Brexit SIs being laid throughout the autumn and we are working hard with parliament to ensure this is manageable."

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