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the uk, the eu, supremacy and parliamentary sovereignty December 7, 2010

Posted by Bradley in : eu , trackback

The House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee gets to grips with the circularities in the EU Bill (for example the irony of a Bill purporting to reinforce Parliamentary Sovereignty while requiring referenda for future inroads on sovereignty) in a report published today. There’s a rather forceful conclusion:

the Explanatory Notes are misleading when they state .. that the clause has been included “to address concerns that the doctrine of Parliamentary sovereignty may be eroded by the courts”. Clause 18 is not a sovereignty clause in the manner claimed by the Government, and the whole premise on which it has been included in the Bill is, in our view, exaggerated. We are gravely concerned that for political reasons it has been portrayed by the Government as a sovereignty clause in correspondence and also in the Explanatory Notes, which we discuss below. For these reasons we deeply regret that the Secretary of State’s refused to come and give evidence himself on these matters…The Explanatory Notes present as fact what the evidence we have received tells us is disputed, viewed from any perspective. We are concerned about the precedent this sets for future Explanatory Notes. Minimal research reveals the depth of the division of opinion on whether Parliamentary sovereignty is a common law principle .. as it does whether Parliamentary sovereignty can ever be put on a statutory footing. Yet, astonishingly, none of this is reflected in the Explanatory Notes. In addition, the case law which they quote-Macarthys and Thoburn-fails to include relevant passages of the judgments of Lord Denning and Lord Justice Laws and so gives a distorted impression.
Explanatory Notes are, we assume, drafted with care; they may be used to illustrate the context and mischief of an enactment, even if they are not approved by Parliament, and this would apply in relation to clause 18. All the more reason then that they should be drafted to reflect the status quo, rather than to present a partial opinion.

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